High Holy Days music

Here are many pieces I’ve written for High Holy Days over the years. Some texts appear several times in the season, throughout the month of Elul, at S’lichot, Rosh Hashanah, or on more than one occasion during Yom Kippur. If you like this music, or are interested in singing some of it and would like the sheet music, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

Elul, S’lichot, Rosh Hashanah, & Yom Kippur
  • Adonai, Adonai No.1 (13 Attributes of Mercy) – a lyrical, yearning tune to ‘marinade our souls’ (Rabbi Anne Brener)
  • Adonai, Adonai No.2 (13 Attributes of Compassion) – a warm, uplifting setting inspired by the teachings of Rabbi Arthur Green that this text is about connecting to love, compassion, kindness & forgiveness. 
  • Adonai Ori / Achat Sha’alti (Ps 27: 1 & 4) – ‘My God, my light’ and ‘Just one thing only, I ask’ – This can be sung as one complete piece, as the two sections / verses are linked by their musical motifs.  But the two verses 1 and 4 of the psalm can also be sung separately, as complete pieces within themselves.
  • Adonai Roi (Ps 23) – a gentle song, with a simple, memorable chorus. Composed for the Yizkor service at Oxford in 2020.
  • Ahavat Olam – Originally composed for the Kol Nidrei service; first blessing before the evening Sh’ma. Can be sung unison by the congregation. There is also an arrangement for 4 voices, and optional piano part.
  • Ashrei Ha’am (Ps 89:16-19) – traditional Rosh Hashanah text, making reference to the shofar calls. This piece has a very easy chorus that the congregation picks up instantly, using nigun syllables to sing different shofar calls; the verse melody alludes to the Unataneh Tokef motif. Ashrei Ha’am can be sung unaccompanied. There are also extra optional voice parts that produce canon-like semi-echos to add to the sense of lots of shofar calls happening.
  • Barchi Nafshi (Ps 103:1-12) – a traditional psalm for Yom Kippur, these verses explore themes of sin and mercy, compassion and forgiveness. This can be sung unaccompanied, solo or unison (congregation), or with piano or guitar. (I haven’t arranged it for choir yet, but could easily, so let me know if you would like a choral version.)
  • Dudeleh (Ribono Shel Olam) – A beautiful love poem to God by Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-1809) – wherever we turn, there is only ‘you’, God. Apart from the opening line, the lyrics are in English. This poem has been used in the USA Reform musaf service at Yom Kippur.
  • Essa Einai (Ps 121) – ‘I lift my eyes to the mountains’ – evocative, unaccompanied solo. Also available in a closely translated English version. Has been used in the Additional Service on Yom Kippur, and at Yizkor.
  • Han’shamah Lach – used at S’lichot and Kol Nidrei. Available as a solo (with or without accompaniment), and in a 3-voice arrangment.
  • Kaddish – a lively, spirited setting “before the gates of Ne’ilah close”. Can be sung unison, with or without guitar/piano; optional harmony parts. The musical setting is interesting melodically and structurally, bringing out the meaning of the words and the inherent larger shape of the text.
  • Kol B’Ramah, Kol D’mei – Verses from Jer. 31:15; Gen. 4:10; Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a). Has been used during the martyrology section of Musaf as a meditation/reflection. Can be sung a cappella solo, but also has an optional, carefully crafted piano part.
  • Nigun Yonah – for Mincha. A thoughtful, slow, slightly restless nigun reflecting the undercurrents of Jonah’s unsettled state, and the waves of the ocean below, and then above, him. Can be sung unison, or as a round.
  • Or Zarua (Ps. 97:11) – “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the straight in heart.” An opening verse for the Kol Nidrei service.
  • Oseh Shalom (No.2) – based on the nusach of the cantor’s Hin’ni prayer; used in Musaf.
  • Shalom, Shalom (Is. 57:19) – “Peace, peace, when you are far; however close you are.” So speaks Havayah.
  • Sh’ma Adonai Koli (Ps 27:7) – recurring, meditative prayer/chant. “Hear, O Lord, when I call with my voice, and be gracious to me, and answer me.” Reb Zalman Shachter-Shalomi’s translation: “Listen, YaH, to the sound of my cry and, being kind, answer me.” Can be sung solo, unison congregation, but also can be a 2-part round, with optional guitar accompaniment. Psalm 27 is also used throughout the month of Elul.
  • Tashlich (Micah 7:19) – For Rosh Hashanah. A short, two part round that people can sing by the water when they do the Tashlich ritual. For those who want to chant this as a group meditation, I have also created moves for a simple circle dance symbolising the casting away of sins.
  • V’shavti B’veit Adonai (Ps 23:6) – meditative chant for Yizkor. “Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Two part round, with optional guitar.
  • V’taheir Libeinu – “Purify our hearts, that we may serve You in truth.” Recurring in the Amidah – composed hauntingly for Yom Kippur, but can be used at other times as well, of course.
Meditations and extras
  • Ana Eil Na (Num. 12:13) – Simple, repetitive chant asking for healing; Hebrew with optional English words. Very easy for people to pick up instantly, and spontaneously harmonise.
  • Ein Keiloheinu No. 2 – a spacious, reflective song. “There is none like our Elohim / God, Adon / Master, Melech / Sovereign, Moshia / Saviour …”
  • Im Ein Ani Li (Ethics 1:14) – “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” A lively setting. 
  • Nigun Chakartani vaTeida – Inspired by Ps 139:1: “You have searched me out and known me”. A meditative nigun suitable for Elul and Yom Kippur.
  • Yism’chu Hashamyim (Ps 96:11) – energetic and fun, a real earworm! (When the Festival falls on Shabbat.)