Yom HaShoah with Oxford Unitarians

Excerpts from: ‘A CCJ Branch in a Global Centre of Learning Excellence’ in Common Ground, Summer 2014, Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ)

“A memorable service on Holocaust Memorial Day, was led for us by the Revd. Peter Hewis, a retired Minister and former Chair of the Oxford branch of the Council of Christians and Jews. The guest preacher was Alexander Massey, an international musician and composer …

“From the back of our chapel Alexander sang his own haunting setting of Psalm 121: I lift my eyes to the mountains, turning the usual confident claim from whence cometh my help into a forlorn question: Where will my help come from? and adding the cry Help! Help!

“Alexander’s sermon took the form of a creative decoding of Psalm 87, which he described as an interfaith affirmation of divine goodness:

“This is quintessentially a universal Psalm embracing the equality of all humanity – each nation and person comes from the same source, and is loved equally.” (AM)

“After a scholarly explication of the content of the Psalm, Alexander took his place at the grand piano in the chapel and launched into his own composition, Holy Mountain, setting his translation of the Psalm to music sounding like a Christian gospel song, with jazzy blue notes, but was actually based on an ancient Jewish prayer mode called Adonai Malach. It was a call–response piece, and the congregation joined in …

“BBC Radio Oxford broadcast … a recording of Alexander’s midrash on Psalm 87.”

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