More melodies for the Days of Awe

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

A few weeks ago I shared a post containing some melodies for the Days of Awe — focusing on those melodies I knew we would begin singing at our Selichot service.

Here are some other melodies you’ll hear at CBI during the Days of Awe. The first one is the Bar’chu or Call to Prayer, sung in the nusach — the melodic mode — unique to this time of year:

Bar’chu – High Holiday Evening Nusach

This next one is Mi Chamocha, the blessing for redemption that reminds us every day of the Exodus from Egypt, also sung in the special nusach for this season:

Mi Chamocha – High Holiday Evening Nusach

(If you listen to the above two tracks together, you’ll hear how they are variations on the same melody — they are sung to the same nusach, adapted for different words.)

This next one is the prayer called Avinu Malkeinu — “Our Father, Our King.” For some of us the patriarchal language of fathers and kings can be challenging, but the melody may feel meaningful even so. (For me, part of what’s beautiful about this prayer is how it plays with the intersection of transcendence and closeness. Kings are far away and distant; parents are intimate and loving, at least ideally.) I have two Avinu Malkeinu recordings for you:

Avinu Malkeinu – Max Janowski setting

Max Janowski’s melody for “Avinu Malkeinu” was popularized by Barbra Streisand, and we will hear it a few times over the course of the holidays.

Avinu Malkeinu – “traditional” (waltz or 6/8) setting

Many people are deeply attached to this setting, sometimes referred to as a waltz though I would say it’s in 6/8 time rather than 3/4. We’ll sing this refrain a few times over the course of the holidays also.

Next up is Kol Nidre — “All the Vows.”

Kol Nidre – “All the Vows” – sung by Rabbi / Cantor Angela Buchdahl

The text of this prayer asserts in advance that we know we will miss the mark in making promises we cannot keep, and begs for forgiveness for that human frailty. The melody is haunting and is sung only once a year, on the eve of Yom Kippur, before sundown (ergo before Yom Kippur officially “begins.”)

May listening to (and singing!) these melodies prepare our hearts to open as we approach this most awesome and powerful time of year.

Wishing you blessings as we approach the new year —

Rabbi Rachel

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