Jewish wedding music
The Jewish Internet
With Mark Mietkiewicz
Traditionally, fewer weddings are held between Passover and Shavuot, a period of semi-mourning. But after Shavuot, the Jewish wedding dam bursts. That means that right now, there are countless couples counting down the days as they plan their special ceremony. And that means choosing perfect music. Here’s some help.
As the chatan (groom) and then his kallah (bride) make their way to the chupah (wedding canopy, the right music can help create a sublime atmosphere.
Rabbi Andrea Frank has put together a marvelous page with full-length songs including Erev shel Shoshanim, Eshet Chayil, Zemer Atik and L’chi Lach by the late Debbie Friedman.
As well, there is a lovely introduction to the importance of music in Jewish religious ceremonies dating from the days of King David all the way to contemporary synagogues (http://bit.ly/jwed01).
WedAlert also provides some great music samplings. These are not full renditions but the first minute or so of classics like Siman Tov, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen and a large helping from Fiddler on the Roof. They can be a bit schmaltzy and you’ve probably heard them all a million times before. But if you hadn’t, they wouldn’t be classics (http://bit.ly/jwed02).
One of the highlights of a Jewish wedding ceremony is the singing of the Sheva Brachot, the seven blessings during which the chatan and kallah are wished gila, rina, ditza v’chedva, ahava v’achva, v’shalom v’reut, rejoicing, jubilation, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship.
If you’re going to be honored with reciting one of the blessings, here is a site where you can listen to a performance, and read the brachot in Hebrew, in English, and in English transliteration (http://bit.ly/jwed17).
Chazzanut.com provides sheet music for the Sheva Brachot. According to the site, the fifth blessing, Samayach Tesamach, is set to a tune from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (http://bit.ly/jwed14).
For more sheet music, you can download a file with the works of the Rev. Marcus Hast (1840-1911) from The Great Synagogue, London, 1910 (http://bit.ly/jwed18).
Is it me or is it getting a bit noisy in here? I enjoyed this discussion about whether Jewish wedding music is getting too loud. One argument: “Music is meant to be listened to and enjoyed, and lead to being inspired — not digested by every pore in the body.” And a response: “lol you guys sound like a bunch of old fogies! us young folk thrive on booming loud music… just don’t stand too close to the speakers (http://bit.ly/jwed08)!”
What is the number one Jewish wedding song? Sidney Johns suggests that it’s King Solomon’s Dodi Li – and it’s hard to disagree about the beautiful tune with the lyrics from the Song of Songs: “I am unto my beloved and my beloved is unto me.”
Check out Johns’ list to see if you agree with the rest of his 10 Best Jewish Wedding Songs (http://bit.ly/jwed10).
If you’d like to try out some less familiar melodies on your special day, visit the Wedding section of the Zemerl website.
You can listen to renditions of about a dozen Yiddish, Hebrew and Bucharan songs, and read the lyrics and translations of about 20 others. The lovely Ladino folk song, Scalerica D’oro, tells this tale:
A ladder of gold and ivory
So our little bride can go up to take
Her marriage vows
We’ve come to see, we’ve come to see
May they have joy and prosper
And always be happy
The bride has no money
May they have good fortune
The bride has no riches
May they have good luck. (http://bit.ly/jwed11)
Even if you’re not planning a wedding — or yours was ages ago — you can still celebrate vicariously. Many couples have posted videos of the wonderful music that helped make their day special (http://bit.ly/jwed12).
But let’s leave the last word to Rabbi Eliezer Azikri, a well-known kabalist from the 16th century: “One of the main expressions of fervent love is that the lover sings songs of love — so we should sing before God (http://bit.ly/jwed13).”
Mark Mietkiewicz can be reached at email@example.com.