Jewish lifecycle music

Making sacred space
  • Ashrei Yoshvei (Ps 84:5) – gentle, short chant; easy for people to pick up and join in with. Voice and guitar.
  • Shalom Aleichem, Aleichem Shalom – gentle, short song, only two words; welcoming each other in peace. Voice and guitar.
  • V’asu Li Mikdash (Ex. 25:8) – “We we’ll make You a holy home, and You will dwell with us” – a text for the completion of the Sanctuary, this can also be sung in the spirit of people creating a collective sacred space, and that the couple under the chuppah will be making a home together and sanctifying it. Voice, with guitar or piano – also works as a two-part round.
  • V’shavti B’veit Adonai (Ps 23:6) – “Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. For unison voice and guitar, or a round for two voices, with or without guitar.

Joy and Celebration
  • Ki L’Olam Chasdo (Ps. 136:1-2, 5-6, 16, 25, 3, 26) – an upbeat piece in 3/4 that encourages audience participation; listeners can join in with the refrain ‘ki l’olam chasdo!’. Leader singer, with guitar or piano; there’s also an arrangement for SATB
  • Oneg Nigun – a gently joyful piece in 5/8 (oneg literally means ‘pleasure’ or ‘delight’)
  • Simcha Song (Ps 81 selected verses) – a riotous piece that celebrates whatever the occasion is, acknowledges God as the source of all goodness, gently notes that some present at a simcha may be feeling some private sadness, and joyfully invites everyone to eat! Can be sung unison with piano or guitar, or as a three part round, with or without accompaniment.
Blessings
  • B’rich Rachamana (Blessing after the meal) – a short chant that guests can pick up very quickly; it also can be sung as an a cappella 3 part round.
  • Y’varech’cha (Priestly Blessing) (Num.6:24-26) – ‘May the Lord bless you and keep you.’ This can be sung solo/unison, with guitar, or full piano accompaniment; there is also an arrangement for full choir (SATB) and piano. The full Hebrew blessing is sung, and the middle section is a translation into English.
Birth and babies
  • Nireh Or / In Your Light (Ps.36:8-10) – a traditional text at a baby blessing, which can be used for a boy or a girl. Arranged for single voice, with guitar or piano accompaniment.
  • B’ruchah Haba’ah (Blessed Is She) (Ps. 118:26; Song of Songs 6:10) – A blessing for the baby girl; a simple tune, the guests can pick up the refrain easily by ear and join in.
Bar mitzvah / Bat mitzvah
  • B’nei Mitzvah Nigun – lively, and simple. Single unaccompanied as a single tune, or as a 2 or 3 part round.
  • Nireh Or / In Your Light (Ps.36:8-10) – Blessing a boy or a girl. Arranged for single voice, with guitar or piano accompaniment.
Wedding
  • Kumi Lach Rayati  / Rise Up, My Love (Song of Songs) – solo and duet versions; full versions in Hebrew or English are available, including a full piano part, or just guitar chords; verses from Song of Songs.
  • Libavtini Achoti Chalah (Song of Songs) – verses (and part verses) selected from Song of Songs; solo voice and guitar
  • Mi Adir – this can be sung as a solo, or as a duet. There is an arrangement for either piano, or solo voice and string quartet.
  • V’erastich Li (Hosea 2:21-22) – including Hebrew and English sections, and a full piano part, this has arrangements for solo or duet
Funeral, Yizkor and Memorial
  • Essa Einai / I lift my eyes (Ps. 121) – solo, unaccompanied voice; versions in Hebrew or English.
  • Kaddish – Energetic, and upbeat, this can be sung free-style by a solo voice, or rhythmically, accompanied by a guitar. Despite being the prayer for mourner’s, this text does not mention death, but affirms the Source of Life, the positive influence of this force in the world.
  • V’shavti B’veit Adonai (Ps 23:6) – “Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. For unison voice and guitar, or a round for two voices, with or without guitar.
Conversion
  • Your People Will Be My People (Ruth 1:16-18) – pledge to join, and stay with the people of Israel, and to honour God as One. This can be sung solo/unison, with guitar, or full piano accompaniment; there is also an arrangement for duet and piano.
Healing
  • Ana Eil Na / Please Bring Healing (Num 12:13) – a short, gentle chant that guests can pick up very quickly (ie. no need to teach it).
  • V’shavti B’veit Adonai (Ps 23:6) – “Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. For unison voice and guitar, or a round for two voices, with or without guitar.