Revered by the three Abrahamic traditions as a holy city, Jerusalem embodies the hope for harmony and peace in the world. Jerusalem, Open Your Gates is a three movement symphonic work which interprets ancient teachings to create a musical vessel for peace.
The three traditions consider Jerusalem to be on an elevated spiritual level. According to Jewish mystical tradition, it is the point where Divine energy flows into the world, and this concept is reflected in all three faiths. Jews ascend to Jerusalem, the place where God’s presence was revealed in the Holy Temple; Jesus was resurrected from the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; and Mohammed rose from Jerusalem’s Al-Haram Al-Sharif to heaven in his nocturnal vision. The three blessings spoken by the priests of the ancient Temple also call us to rise above divisiveness to live in peace.
I. Enter the Sacred Space
Quietly expansive music prepares us to receive the first blessing, “God will bless you and keep you.” We enter the sacred space, the temple in our hearts, our own luminous holiness.
II. Arise into Radiant Grace
The priestly blessings continue: “God will shine God’s countenance upon you and be gracious unto you,” and “God will lift up God’s countenance upon you and grant you peace.” A shimmering texture evokes the Light of the Divine Countenance. Melodies representing each tradition* intermingle as the texture ascends, lifting us up into the light of grace and unity. We descend in peace.
III. Open Your Gates and Receive God’s Glory
Psalm 24 proclaims, “Lift up your heads, gates, entrances to eternity, so that the Sovereign of Glory may enter.” Here the three melodies are joined by trumpeted shofar calls, symbolizing awe and revelation, as giant gates open to receive God’s glory into our hearts and into the world. The energy gradually subsides into a state of quiet fullness as we absorb the influx of holiness. May Jerusalem’s destiny as a city of peace and source of radiant holiness in the world be fulfilled quickly, in our lifetime.
*These melodies are: a pentatonic David melech yisrael, for David, King of Israel), who founded the City of David at Jerusalem; the Christian Gregorian chant, Judaea et Jerusalem; and the Islamic call to prayer.
-Meira Warshauer, 1998
Thanks to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, ztl, for his interpretation of the priestly blessings,
and to Ani Tuzman for her collaborative vision and support in this composition.