2. Liturgy Lane
NOTES ON DISCS FROM BOOKLET:
DISC TWO: LITURGY LANE
(SIMTAT HAPULKHAN) סמטת הפולחן
The second disc is a compilation of sacred song, some remixed older pieces and some more recent or never before recorded. We begin with a canon that I wrote when I was 17 years old, while studying music at Yeshiva University in New York. “Hashmi-ini” (Let Me Hear Your Voice) is a setting of a verse from the Song of Songs, and is delivered by four mezzos, four baritones, four violins, four cellos, guitar and double bass.
“L’Hadlik Ner Shel Shabbat” (Lighting the Sabbath Candles) was commissioned by my lifelong partner and sweetheart, Naomi Arney. She asked me for a tune for lighting the Sabbath candles that wasn’t the one we all sing on Hanukah. The melody I came up with is featured here, and can also be utilized for all holidays, by substituting the words shel shabbat (for the Sabbath) with shel yom tov (for the Holiday) or shel yom hazikaron (for the Day of Remembrance, Rosh Hashana) and so on.
“Shalom Aleichem” (Peace Be Unto You) was written in 1967 when I was 18, and is featured on a first Jewish album of mine, Moshe Denburg Sings—Vekarev Pezureinu. We felt we could do a fresh workup of it, with a Tzimmes feel, and so here it is. The text, which has received a great many melodic treatments over the years, of course is from the Sabbath liturgy, and is traditionally sung upon coming home from the synagogue on Friday night (Sabbath Eve).
Now we come to the first of the three newly remixed pieces from our first album, Sweet and Hot. This is my arrangement of Myrna Rabinowitz’ melodic setting of “Adon Olam” (Ruler of the Universe), a very well known hymn that is sung at the conclusion of the Sabbath morning services. It features some counterpoint for baritone, and an easy to sing along wordless refrain.
Following this, as I warned above, we have a reprise of “Simkha L’Artsecha” (Joy to Your Land), but this time, after the instrumental rendition, the song is sung from beginning to end. It has been a beloved nigun in my family all my life, and we are happy to present it here. The text is from the liturgy of the High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur).
In 2004, at the request of a dear friend, Rabbi Shmuel Birnham, I wrote a melody for the opening line of the Yizkor (memorial) service. “Shiviti Adonai L’Negdi Tamid” (I Have Set Hashem Always Before Me) was kept alive all these years by another wonderful friend, featured on the lead vocal here, cantorial soloist Naomi Taussig. We hope it inspires meaningful reflection in the listener.
Before we get, yet again, to the final Beatles reference, there are two pieces from Sweet and Hot that have been newly remixed. “Hashem Yishmorcha” (May the Lord Watch Over You) is the traditional prayer for the way, and featured here, as in “Adon Olam,” are the members of Tzimmes who recorded our debut album. “Vechitetu” (Swords into Ploughshares), is the final truly liturgical piece on the recording, and here Adel Awad can be heard playing frame drum in his inimitable style.
So why, for the final piece, are we doing “In My Life” again? Well first of all, it is a Hebrew translation/adaptation of “In My Life,” called “Biy’mei Hayai” (The Days of My Life). For years I wanted to create a Hebrew setting for the song, and finally, a couple of years ago it came about. Except for the Hebrew lyrics, the track is the same as that on disc one. So I thought: What am I going to do with it? Hold onto it for later? When and where is that going to be? No, in keeping with the goodbye blessings I mentioned before, “Biy’mei Hayai” is chosen as the final word here. We truly hope you enjoy it afresh.
So from the Tzimmes family to you and yours: May we all live well, and love well, in good health, with a song in our hearts always.
MOSHE DENBURG, March 2021