Interfaith Jewish music

Jewish texts offer rich opportunities for interfaith thinking, dialogue and encounters. Many Jewish prayer texts and Biblical verses, including the psalms, speak to universal human experience and spiritual yearning. Some are part of our regular liturgy; it is interesting to note how many could fit an interfaith context. Some Jewish texts specifically affirm inclusivity and diversity.

Here are my musical settings of some of these texts. Interfaith encounters benefit from open hearts and minds, and creative thinking. I have added some thoughts about how these songs and texts might apply universally, beyond just a Jewish context. But you may find ways that I haven’t yet thought of. Go for it!

Greeting each other, and making sacred space
Acknowledging, praising and thanking God
  • Adon Olam No.1 and Adon Olam No.2 – Acknowledging God as Creator, Ruler, Comforter, Source and Destination
  • Adonai, Adonai (13 attributes) – affirming God’s mercy and forgiveness
  • Adonai Roi (Ps 23) – affirming God’s guiding and supportive presence (The Lord is my shepherd)
  • B’rich Rachamana – short universal grace after eating together
  • Barchi Nafshi (Ps 103:1-12) – counting the blessings all humanity receives from God
  • Ein Keiloheinu (No.2) – ‘There is none like God’, a belief common to many different traditions
  • Ki L’olam Chasdo (Ps 136:1-2, 5-6, 16, 25, 3, 26) – Praising God for God’s kindness and love
  • Mah Gadlu (Ps 92:4) – wonder at God’s thoughts and actions
  • Modeh /Modah Ani – thanks for God giving life to us
  • Simcha Song (Ps 81 selected verses) – celebrating in joy, and honouring those who are sad at times of joy
  • Yism’chu Hashamayim (Ps 96:11) – praise and joyfulness at God’s creation
  • Yotzeir Or – praising God the Creator
Diversity, inclusivity, togetherness
  • Baruch Atah, B’ruchah At (Blessed Shall You Be) (adapted from Deut 28:3-4, 6, Gen 12:3, 2) – affirming God’s blessings for everyone, including all genders
  • Eilu v’Eilu (Eruvin 13b) – there are many true ways to God, and this text embraces diversity of dialogue ‘for the sake of heaven’
  • Elohai N’shamah  – a reminder that every human soul is pure
  • Han’shamah Lach – our soul and our body are God’s, and we ask for God’s compassion for them
  • Holy Mountain (Ps 87) – a psalm that embodies and interfaith outlook, specifically affirming that we all (from all corners of the earth) come from God and have a place with God
  • Im Ein Ani Li (Pirkei Avot 1:4) – about being there for each other, at the right time
Healing, safety and peace (including Yom Hashoah and disaster events)
  • Ana Eil Na – universal healing prayer
  • B’makom Sh’ein Anashim – a call to bring forth goodness in the face of inhumanity or despair
  • Come Down, God (Ps 86:1-8) – a cry for God to listen
  • Hashkiveinu (1st 3 sentences) – asking for God’s sheltering care in our time awake and asleep
  • Kol B’ramah, Kol D’mei – a journey from despair to hope: Rachel weeps for her children; God calls out to ask who has spilled their sibling’s blood; the Talmud teaches that who saves a life saves a whole world.
  • Lo Yisa Goi (Isa. 2:4) – Song for cessation of war
Blessings and intentions for bringing good into the world