Sh’ma Adonai Koli (Ps 27:7)

Composition and audio © Alexander Massey 25 Sept 2016

Sh’ma Adonai koli ekra; v’choneini va’aneini.

Hear, O Lord, when I call with my voice, and be gracious to me, and answer me.

Zalman Shachter-Shalomi: “Listen, YaH, to the sound of my cry and, being kind, answer me.”

I try to write something new each year for my Jewish Renewal community the London Ruach Chavurah to use at Yom Kippur. This year (2016) it struck me that it would be good to have a meditative chant for crying out to God to hear our prayers.

The language is in the first person singular – ‘I’. And yet as Jews we are encouraged to pray in community, and at High Holy Days especially, we are meant to find support and honesty with each other as we direct our thanks, our apologies and our requests to God. That might suggest that we should have used a text with the plural ‘we’, as we have in, for example, the prayer Sh’ma koleinu (‘Hear our voices’). But when this setting of Ps 27:7 is sung as a round, the resulting harmonies create a strong sense of the community sending out its collective voice – a balance of individual voices and a collective sound. The individual voices make and support the community, and the community supports the individuals.

Possible ways to use this prayer-song
  • The prayer can be sung as a single congregational line or solo (with or without instrumental accompaniment)
  • It can also treated as a round.
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