The verses of the Psalms have been a primary source of lyrics for religious composers throughout history. Since King David is the Bible’s most famous musician, and is said to be the author of most of the Psalms (although modern biblical scholars dispute this), it makes sense to assume that Psalms were originally meant to be sung. Even the Hebrew phrase Mizmor L’David, which is often translated as “A Psalm of David,” can also be translated as “A Song of David”.
Psalm 96, one of the six Psalms that begin Kabbalat Shabbat, is a perfect example of how one Psalm can yield a number of different songs. The opening verse, Shiru l’Adonai shir chadash (Sing unto God a new song), is a favorite of many composers, and a few verses later we find the source of another well-known musical piece: Yism’chu hashamayim (Let the heavens rejoice).
But one of the most poetic verses in Psalm 96 is:
Ya’aloz sadai v’chol asher bo…
Az y’ran’nu kol atzei ya’ar.
Which can be translated as:
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them…
Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
The popular Israeli group, Nava Tehila, who had been scheduled to lead our Friday night service on May 8th, has composed an inspiring melody for these beautiful words. Since that event had to be postponed, I decided to take their song and create a whole new arrangement with a Reggae feel.
After creating all of the instrumental tracks, to make it even more special, I invited eleven singers who have all have played a role in the music of Ohabei Shalom over the last 20 years to lend their voices to this project. Eight of them have brief solos, and you can hear them in this order:
Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman – 2017-present / Rabbi (she also has the last solo)
Joshua Cohen –2017-present / Music Educator
Cantor Randall Schloss – 2007-2016 / Cantor
Cantor Robbie Solomon – 1991-2005 / Cantor
Cantor Rick Lawrence – 2012-2014 / Cantorial Intern
Cantor Maayan Harel – 2017-present / High Holy Day soloist, B’nei Mitzvah tutor
Cantor Shana Onigman – 2005-2007 / Cantor
Avi Davis – 2019-present / High Holy Day Soloist
In addition, in the ensemble parts we also have the beautiful voices of:
Daniel Anderson – 2015-present / Education Programs Coordinator
Cassie Samuels – 2019-present / Youth Engagement & Administration Coordinator
Naomi Gurt Lind – 2013-2018 / Member Outreach Coordinator • Director of Membership & Engagement • Executive Director • High Holy Day Soloist.
I hope you will enjoy this fun arrangement that is also a slice of Ohabei Shalom history below:
I also recommend that you listen to the original Nava Tehila version, which you can find here: