It is traditional to read Psalm 27 during the month before and including the Jewish New Year, as part of the season of teshuvah or return. The simplicity of verse 4 always holds my attention and gives me strength throughout the year:
One thing I asked of the Holy Living Essence, this I will seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Holy One all the days of my life.
In this composition, I hope to convey how it may feel to sit with awareness of the Holy Presence. The first movement focuses on the word akhat, which means one: one request, one God, one holy Essence creating and pervading the universe in every moment. In repeating and overlapping that word, the chorus creates a texture to hold and embrace us in that intention.
Jewish tradition considers Hebrew a holy language, and that as such, the words themselves embody the meaning they represent. The second movement plays with the sounds of the words otah avakesh (this I will request). I felt more extroverted energy in these words, and the chorus sings them with joy, conveying a spirit that builds in excitement as the movement progresses. A sustained melody of the entire text of verse 4 holds the central core, while otah avakesh dances around it.
The last movement, shivti b’vet HaShem (that I may sit in the House of the Holy One), returns to a state of calm, integrating the joyous connection with an inner peace, which radiates throughout.
The audio below is performed by the Schola Cantorum Carolina, directed by Alina Orraca in Havana, Cuba, for the Ansonica recording Chévere!