Baruch She’amar: “Blessed is the One who spoke and the universe came into being,” opens with a timpani roll expressing the creative force of the Word. The tenor and chorus enter in the traditional prayer mode (minor triad with descending fourth), which the orchestra then takes over, building to the climactic Kol Haneshama (all who breathe…from Psalm 150). The chorus’s rhythmic repetition uses a minimalist technique to convey the fervor and excitement (breath) of the text.
The call to public worship (Barechu), chanted with awe and reverence, uses an ascending major third and descending minor third, as in the traditional call and response. When the soprano moves into Or Chadash (“shine a new light…”) the mode changes to include the augmented second and the improvisatory rhythmic flow of the cantorial style for petition. Contrasting chromatic gestures from the vibraphone and other percussion hint at the mystery and wonder of this “new light.”
For the Sh’ma (listen/hear), the affirmation of faith, the mode modulates to major. The dramatic choral declamation is a resounding call: Sh’ma Yisrael Adoshem Elokeinu Adoshem Echad (“Hear, Israel, the Eternal is our G-d, the Eternal is One.”) The following dance-like movement is based on melodic motives used when chanting this portion from the Torah from Deuteronomy.
The Amidah, or standing silent prayer, is the heart of the service. Here the worshiper enters the holy realm to address the Eternal One. Murmuring winds and strings create an atmosphere of calm with inner joy. The angelic choirs call back and forth Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh (Holy, Holy, Holy…) amidst hints of kol haneshama (trumpets) and its sustained counter melody (horns) enhanced by liquid ripples of marimba and harp. The glockenspiel suggests the major triad used when this portion is chanted aloud.
When the worshiper returns from this intimate encounter with the Creator, there is boundless joy and exultation as the holy energy channels through the body. The Kaddish (glorification of G-d’s name) becomes an extroverted dance with syncopated interplay between the chorus and soloists and percussive punctuation from the orchestra. A dramatic sustained Amen makes way for the gentle coda which repeats the last line of the Kaddish: Oseh shalom…(Maker of peace…). The soothing counterpoint provides closure for this spiritual journey with a prayer for peace.
— Meira Warshauer
Information about the organ/percussion arrangement of Shacharit here.
Text and translation:
Baruch she-amar v’haya ha’olam Baruch Hu
Blessed is the One who spoke, and the universe came into being. Blessed is the One.
Kol han’shama t’halel Kah (Yah). Halelukah (yah).
All who breathe praise G-d. Halleuyah.
Bar’chu et Adoshem (Adonay) hamevorach.
Bless is the Eternal One Who is blessed.
Baruch HaShem ham-vorach l’olam va’ed.
Blessed is the Eternal One Who is blessed forever and ever.
Or chadash al tzion ta-ir v’nizke kulanu m’heira l’oro
Shine a new light on Zion and may we all soon be privileged to enjoy its brightness.
Baruch ata Adoshem (Adonay), yotzer hame’orot.
Blessed are you, Eternal One, Former of the luminaries.
Shma Yisael Adoshem Elokeinu (Adonay Eloheinu), Adoshem (Adonay) echad.
Hear, Israel: the Eternal is our G-d, the Eternal is One.
Adoshem (Adonay) Elokeichem (Eloheichem) emet
Eternal, G-d of truth.
Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh…
Holy, holy, holy…
(The following portion, the Kaddish, is in Aramaic, the daily language of the Jewish people in Babylon, two millennia ago.)
Yitgadal v’yitkadash, sh’mei raba.
Magnified and sanctified be the great name of G-d.
B’alma divra chirutei V’yamlich malchutei
in the world which He (She) created according to His (Her) will. And may He (She) rule His (Her) domain
b’chayeichon uvyomeichon uvchayei d’chal beit yisrael
in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of all the House of Israel
ba’agala uvizman kariv, v’imru amen.
speedily and in the near future, and say, Amen.
Y’hei shmei raba m’varach l’alam ul’almei almaya.
May the great name of G-d be praised forever and for all eternity.
Blessed is He (She)
y’hei shlama raba min shamaya v’chayim aleinu v’al kal yisrael v’imru amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven and life for us and all Israel and say Amen.
(The following returns to Hebrew)
Oseh shalom bimromav Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kal yisrael
Maker of peace in the heavens make peace for us and for al Israel
v’al kal yoshvei teyvel v’imru amen.
And for all who dwell on earth and say Amen.
Translations adapted by the composer from The Metsudah Siddur: A New Linear Prayer Book, Sabbath and Festival Prayers, ed. Rabbi Avrohom Davis, Metsudah Publications, 1982, NY.
Consonants as in German, vowels as in Italian. Apostrophe after a consonant is short vocalization as in “ih” or “uh;” apostrophe before a vowel indicates glottal stop.
Hebrew words for G-d are used only in actual prayer service. For concert performance, the following are substituted:
HaShem or Adoshem Adonai