Adonai Ori / Achat Sha’alti – Psalm 27

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Psalm 27, verses 1 & 4

;הוָה, אוֹרִי וְיִשְׁעִי–מִמִּי אִירָא
.יְהוָה מָעוֹז-חַיַּי, מִמִּי אֶפְחָד :אַחַת, שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת-יְהוָה– אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ
;שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְהוָה, כָּל-יְמֵי חַיַּי
.לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֹעַם-יְהוָה, וּלְבַקֵּר בְּהֵיכָלוֹ


God is my light and my refuge secure —  whom shall I fear?  God is the stronghold of my life —  of whom should I be afraid?
Just one thing I have asked of God;  only this do I seek:  to dwell in God’s House all the days of my life,  to behold divine sweetness and beauty,  and to gaze in delight at God’s Temple.
[Mishkan HaNefesh: Rosh HaShanah: Machzor for the Days of Awe (p. 92). CCAR Press. Kindle Edition.]

Optional English lyric

My God, my light, my help, how could I fear?
My God, my strength, my life, I won’t be afraid.
My God, my light, my God, my light.
Just one thing only I ask, my God, just one thing I seek:
to live in your house, my God, all the days of my life,
to gaze on your beauty, my God, and to return to my royal home.

This original English lyric is a close adaptation of the Hebrew. It picks up on the word heichalo / palace in the Hebrew, and refers to the idea that, because God is both Monarch and Parent, the Talmud (Shabbat 67a) teaches: “All Israel are royal children.” We can universalise this message to think of all humanity as royal children of God, since we are all of one family descended from Adam.

Performance guidelines

This can be performed as one complete piece, as the two sections / verses are linked through their musical motifs, in particular in each occurrence of Adonai. However, the two sections A & B, representing verses 1 and 4 of the psalm can also be used separately, as complete pieces within themselves. In liturgy, you may want to sing just one or the other, or both together. The English lyric is optional.

Make sure you check out all my other musical settings for Elul and High Holy Days!