Dear Congregation Beth Israel community,
Several of you have asked me when we will hold another contemplative / chant-based Shabbat morning service. And the answer to that question is: our next contemplative Shabbat service will be on November 2, the week when we’ll be reading parashat Toldot.
What is a contemplative chant-based service?
During our contemplative Shabbat morning service, we’ll use a stripped-down liturgy. We’ll pray just one or two lines from each prayer, singing / chanting each line several times so that we can really get inside the words and the words can really get inside us. The aim is to move more deeply into each prayer’s theme, and to connect with gratitude, awe, light, love, redemption, and more!
After each chant concludes, we’ll sit in silence for a few minutes so that the prayers can reverberate inside us before we move on. The silence following the chant is also part of the prayer — it’s an opportunity for the prayers to continue to move us, even during a pause between our singing. The practice of sitting still after prayer, to see what arises in us, can be very meaningful and sweet.
Prayers for the sick will be included, as will a brief Torah reading. The only prayer we will recite in full-text form is the mourner’s kaddish.
What melodies will we use?
We will use the same melodies which we have used at previous contemplative / chant-based services. For your convenience, they are enclosed below — feel free to listen to them between now and November 2 (or to use them in your own private prayer practice) if you are so inclined. They are very simple melodies and can easily be learned at the service itself, too.
Blessings to all for a sweet Shabbat —
1. Prayer for gratitude
מודָה אָנִי! / מודֶה אָנִי!
Modah ani (women) / Modeh ani (men)
I am grateful before You!
Modah Ani (mp3)
2. Prayer for the soul
.אֵלהַי נְשָמָה שְנָתַתָ בִי טהורָה הִיא
Elohai neshama, shenatata bi, tehora hee.
My God, the soul that You have placed within me is pure.
Elohai Neshama (mp3)
3. Ashrei (Happy!)
אַשְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵי בֵיתֶךָ, עוֹד יְהַלְלוּךָ סֶּלָה:
Ashrei yoshvei veitecha, od y’hallelucha, selah!
Happy are they who dwell in Your house;
they will praise You, always!
4. Kol HaNeshamah (All That Breathes) – from Psalm 150
כֹּל הַנְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּל יָהּ הַלְלוּיָהּ:
Kol haneshamah t’hallel Yah.
All that breathes will praise You!
Kol HaNeshamah (mp3)
5. Yotzer Or (Creator of Light) – 1st blessing before the Shema
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, יוֹצֵר אוֹר, וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶךְ,
עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא אֶת הַכֹּל:
Baruch atah, Adonai eloheinu, melech ha-olam, Yotzer or u-vorei choshech, oseh shalom u-vorei et ha-kol.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, sovereign of creation, creator of light and former of darkness, maker of peace and creator of all.
Yotzer Or (Round) (mp3)
6. V’yached L’vavenu (Unify Our Hearts) – 2nd blessing before the Shema
וְיַחֵד לְבָבֵנוּ לְאַהֲבָה וּלְיִרְאָה אֶת שְׁמֶךָ.
V’yached l’vavenu, l’ahavah u-l’yirah et sh’mecha.
Unify our hearts in love and awe of Your name!
V’Yached Levavenu (mp3)
7. The Shema
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְיָ אֶחָד:
Shema Yisrael, adonai eloheinu, adonai echad!
Hear, O Israel; Adonai is Our God; Adonai is One!
Shema (zhikr chant) (mp3)
8. Ozi v’zimrat Yah (God’s Song is My Liberation) – 3rd blessing surrounding the Shema
עָזִי וְזִמרָת יָה וַיְהִי–לִי לִישֻעָה.
Ozi v’zimrat Yah, vay’hi li l’y’shua.
My strength is in Your song, and You will be my salvation.
Ozi v’zimrat Yah (mp3)
9. Shalom chant (to end our silent amidah)
שָׁלוֹם, שָׁלוֹם, שָׁלוֹם, שָׁלוֹם.
Shalom, shalom, shalom, shalom.
Shalom chant (mp3)
10. Ana, El Na (Prayer for Healing) – after our Torah service
נפשי חולת אהבתך, אנא, אל נא, רפא נא לה!
Nafshi cholat ahavatecha; ana, El na, refa na la.
Your beloved is sick; please, God, heal her.
Ana El Na (mp3)
11. Ein Od Milvado (There is Nothing But God) – our Aleinu
אֵין עוד מִלבַדו, ה’ הוא הָאֶלהִים.
Ein old milvado, Hashem hu ha-elohim.
There is nothing but God; God is God.
Ein Od Milvado (mp3)
12. Shviti (I Keep God Before Me Always)
שְוִיתִי אָדונָי לְנֶגְדִי תַמִיד.
Sh’viti Adonai l’negdi tamid.
I keep God before me always.