Music for Oxford High Holy Days (Progressive congregation)

Over a number of years, some new musical settings of High Holy Days prayers have been gradually introduced in the services for the Oxford Progressive Jewish congregation. On this page, you’ll find:

  • pieces I wrote for this year’s HHD for Oxford (2020)
  • pieces I wrote for previous HHD in Oxford, some of which are being used in 2020 again
  • other pieces I have written that we are using in Oxford HHD 2020


New for 5781 (2020)
  • Adonai, Adonai – Repeating the 13 attributes of God, invoking God’s forgiveness and mercy. A lyrical tune to ‘marinade our souls’ (Rabbi Anne Brener).
  • Adonai Roi (Ps 23) – ‘God is my Shepherd’. Composed for Yom Kippur Yizkor, Oxford, 2020/5781.
  • Shalom, Shalom (Is. 57:19) – “‘Peace, peace, when you are far; however close you are.’ So speaks Havayah.” – Composed for Yom Kippur Ne’ilah, Oxford, 2020/5781.
  • Yism’chu Hashamyim (Ps 96:11) -“Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult; let the sea and all within it thunder.” Composed for Yom Kippur Musaf (Additional service), Oxford, 2020/5781.
Composed for HHD Oxford Progressive services in previous years
  • Ahavat Olam – Gratitude for God’s unending love, the first blessing before the evening Sh’ma. Composed for Kol Nidrei, Oxford 2012/5773, arranged for OxfordShir (Oxford Jewish community choir) 2017.
  • Ashrei Ha’am (Ps 89:16-19) – ‘Happy are the people who hear the sound of the shofar.’ Traditional Rosh Hashanah text. The music of the chorus makes reference to the shofar calls, and the verse melody alludes to the Unataneh Tokef motif. Composed for Rosh Hashanah, Oxford 2012/5773.
  • Han’shamah Lach – ‘The soul is Yours and the body is Your workmanship; have compassion on what You have created.’ Composed for Yizkor, Oxford 2018/5779.
  • Kol B’Ramah, Kol D’mei – ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, Rachel weeping for her children.’ Verses from Jer. 31:15; Gen. 4:10; Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a). The first part of this was composed for Yom Kippur Musaf, Oxford 2012/5773, and the reworking and expanding of the text and song for Yom HaShoah, Oxford, 2018.
  • Oseh Shalom (No.2) – based on the nusach of the cantor’s Hin’ni prayer; used in Musaf. Composed for Yom Kippur Musaf, Oxford 2012/5773.
Other settings sung at Oxford HHD Progressive services

Text settings

  • Ashrei Yoshvei (Ps 84:5) – ‘Happy are those who live in God’s house.’ Also used at Yom Kippur Mincha, Oxford 2020.
  • Elohai N’shamah – ‘The soul You have given me is pure.’ A meditative chant / 3 part round.
  • Essa Einai (Ps 121) – ‘I lift my eyes to the mountains’. Sung at Yom Kippur Musaf, Oxford, 2018 & 2019.
  • Tashlich (Micah 7:19) – “Hurl all your sins into the depths of the sea.” For the Tashlich ritual at Rosh Hashanah. Two part round, composed 2014, arranged for OxfordShir (Oxford Jewish community choir) 2019.
  • 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. Used in Oxford High Holy Days services 2018, 2019, 2020.

Pre-service music and interludes

  • Hameichin Mitzadei Gaver – A meditative 3 part round on the morning blessing for moving mindfully through the world.
  • Nigun Chakartani vaTeida – Inspired by Ps 139:1: “You have searched me out and known me”.
  • Nigun Ma’ariv – a meditative chant for evening prayer.
  • Nigun Oneg – For Shabbat joy (Yom Kippur is the ‘Shabbat of Shabbats’). Just for fun, the time signature of this nigun is 5/8, echoing that the idea of Sabbath oneg comes from chapter 58 of Isaiah.
  • Tree of Life Nigun – meditation on journeying through the ten sefirot of the kabbalistic Tree of Life.
  • 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. A round in several parts.
  • Sh’ma Adonai Koli (Ps 27:7) – “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.” Psalm 27 is also used throughout the month of ElulA 2-part round. 
  • V’asu Li Mikdash – ‘Make for Me a sanctuary and I will dwell with them.’ Two-part round.