« Oy, the humour-impaired among us | Main | The unexpected rewards of blogging »

Monday, March 26, 2007

Please... stop the madness!

A personal message to the Ba'al Mussaf (the person leading the additional service) this past Saturday morning:

I should begin by saying that I'm really in no position to criticize your voice. I'm certainly not in possession of a professional-quality set of pipes, and I generally shy away from leading services because I am more than a little self-conscious. 

However, despite my meager talents and limited knowledge of 'nusach' (the agreed-upon text/order of the prayers), I feel the need to step up and have a word with you about your choice of melodies to which you decided to set the traditional Mussaf prayers.

Here's the deal... If you grab pretty much any Sephardi guy off the streets of Israel... religious, secular, it really doesn't matter... he will almost certainly be able to recite every word of any weekday or Shabbat service out loud from memory.  Not only that, but what he recites will sound strikingly similar to what his great, great, great, grandfather would have recited when asked.  You see, the traditions surrounding 'nussach' and melodies have been a thing of relative constancy in the Sephardi community since, well, pretty much forever.

But if you ask an Ashkenazi guy to get up and 'daven for the amud' (lead the congregation in prayer), things are going to be a tad less, er, predictable. 

First of all, there is an excellent chance that he will decline the honor altogether for lack of confidence in his own knowledge and ability (I sort of fall into this category).  If by chance he agrees to lead the service, you are likely to get something resembling the bastard child of Eurovision and a Manhattan piano bar.  To say that it won't be anything approaching a traditional rendering of the service, would be a gross understatement.

Why is that?  When did the Ashkenazi community completely abandon any attempt to preserve and pass along traditional melodies and the specific knowledge of how to lead the community in prayer?

I ask you these question because this past Shabbat I sat through your rendering of Mussaf that included, among other offenses:

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Close Every Door To Me', from the Broadway musical 'Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'. 
  • Another offering by ALW; 'Memories' from the show 'Cats'.
  • Andrea Bocelli's 'Time to say goodbye' (ironically, the exact message I was trying to send you telepathically during this particular portion of your 'performance'), a song which gained popularity after being featured on the HBO series 'The Sopranos'.

Obviously it needs to be acknowledged that most critics have the luxury of passing judgment from the safe anonymity of the audience (as I have here).  But that doesn't necessarily mean the criticism is ill-conceived or incorrect. 

Please take my advice (for what it is worth): If you enjoy Broadway and light opera, there are piano bars for showcasing your talents with fellow enthusiasts.  If you don't like crowds and smoky rooms... then invite some like-minded friends over for an intimate evening of song in your living room.   

But please... I'm begging you... please leave the show tunes at the door when you enter the synagogue.  And if you are asked to lead the services, kindly remember that we are all there in shul because of a shared obligation to participate in communal prayer... not due to a common fondness for Andrew Lloyd Webber.


Posted by David Bogner on March 26, 2007 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Please... stop the madness!:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Reminds me of an article:

"Who Will Live, Who Will Die, Tra La La La La"


Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Mar 26, 2007 12:24:44 PM

You mean when we were singing "Adon Olam" to the tune of "The Lone Ranger" all those years at camp, it wasn't because our forefathers did so? I feel betrayed (although it did fit well, sacrilege aside.)

Posted by: Benji | Mar 26, 2007 12:24:57 PM

I was at a Chabad in Phoenix last year when a Sephardi man davened Kedushah to "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav". It was nice.

But I do agree that show tunes are a bit over the top.

p.s. I apologize for hijacking your last post with my Milky's question. I guess I should have realized how strongly people feel about them.

Posted by: dfb1968 | Mar 26, 2007 12:37:34 PM

...and people here seriously bicker about Lewandowski and why a choir would mean the end of all traditions.


Posted by: Account Deleted | Mar 26, 2007 12:42:42 PM

Showtunes, geez...well, it's a good thing they didn't break into "That's Entertainment" or "Stepping Out With My Baby," or whip out an umbrella while davening "Aleinu" to the tune of "Singing in the Rain."

Us? We do lots of services to the tune of the Beach Boys "Sloop John B." But we all seem to be in agreement that a catchy tune encourages kavana, and so thus it has remained.

Posted by: Erica | Mar 26, 2007 1:01:53 PM

At Hillel when I was in college, they did a strange rendition of Adon Olam. I knew it sounded familiar, nice, but couldn't put my finger on it. Then when listening to the radio one day, there it was. Simon and Garfunkle's "The Sound of Silence."

Now I'm trying to think of it a la Lone Ranger as Benji suggested. It does seem to be a flexible song. My parents' rabbi did it to a wedding march the Shabbos before my wedding.

My problem with using various tunes is I'm still trying to learn all the words and pronunciations. When they switch the tune to something I don't know, I lose where I am and what is being said.

Posted by: JDMDad | Mar 26, 2007 1:28:54 PM

How about Adon Olam to the tune of Rock Around the Clock?

Posted by: seawitch | Mar 26, 2007 2:21:07 PM

LOL. What a great visual. I love my showtunes, but I think even I would be shaking my head or just cracking up.

When I was little (early 70s) we use to sing Adon Olam to Coca Cola's theme song - I Like to Teach the World to Sing....

Today, it's still difficult for me to stop humming; that tune. However, I love the Israeli, slow to fast version of Adon Olam.

Posted by: jaime | Mar 26, 2007 3:08:55 PM

This is a sacrilege and an outrage. I think you'd feel more comfortable at our synagogue, where all the melodies are from 80s classic rock.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 26, 2007 3:17:26 PM


Maybe he thought it was Simchas Torah?

I actually heard someone recite kedusha in musaf to Memories over 15 years ago. Never forgot it.

Posted by: mochassid | Mar 26, 2007 3:27:12 PM

I hear ya,

Every simchat torah i have to sit through every kaddish ( except mourner's) to the the theme song of Gilligans island!

Posted by: David | Mar 26, 2007 3:31:58 PM

Wimp! You "Chosen People" seem to think you've cornered the market on suffering. I defy you to try sitting through a "contempory service" at an evangelical Christian church. (It takes "suffering for the sake of Christ" to a whole new level.) If only we goyim had Andrew Lloyd Weber tunes...

Posted by: Bob | Mar 26, 2007 4:04:11 PM

Doctor Bean...Mmm...I hate to break this to you, but there is no 80's classic rock.

Posted by: dfb1968 | Mar 26, 2007 4:24:54 PM

A while back in our shul someone did musaf to an Air Supply tune... AIR SUPPLY!?
Seriously, that's terrible.

Posted by: Shifra | Mar 26, 2007 4:32:35 PM

LOL. Having been an "audience member" of many a show tune davening, I can totally relate. Lots of shuls also do the popular "jewish rock/boy band" tunes...ouch!

Posted by: SaraK | Mar 26, 2007 4:36:26 PM

So I take it this means you would dissaprove of our Hillel doing Adon Olam to the tune of Sky Rockets in Flight for reasons other than that the original lyrics are completly inappropriate for synagogue? (It must be a syllable count thing, we've never found a tune you can't sing Adon Olam to if you try hard enough)
This Rosh Hashana, Chabad did something to the tune of Hail to the Cheif, which would have been fine, except it wasn't until I heard them singing something that I know that I realized how tone deaf the Rabbi really is. :) I worry now that I've learned strange versions of all the other melodies they use.

Posted by: Emily | Mar 26, 2007 4:43:45 PM

How many times have you heard Havdalah set to "The Rose" by Bette Midler.

As for Adon Olam, I'd be hard pressed not to come up with a good 25 different tunes it has been set to.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 26, 2007 4:45:04 PM


Unfortunately, the current trend appears to involve picking and choosing new minhagim, with little regard for one's heritage. Tefilah Betzibur suffers the least out of all the aspects of Judaism involved.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Mar 26, 2007 5:04:44 PM

1. Best (and most slyly subversive) Adon Olam tune: theme from "I Dream of Genie".

2. Andrew Lloyd Webber - Wow! We don't get that much, uhhhhh, cultcha out in our neck of the Shomron.

3. The Sephardi guys only sound authentic - many of them are makin it up as they go along (is there a melody in there?) and/or cribbing tunes from shmalzy-nasal "musikat kalatot" (= Andrew Lloyd Webber with a kefiah) that doesn't always make it to Galatz.

Posted by: Ben-David | Mar 26, 2007 5:16:28 PM

Our shul has started using a new tune for Hinei Ma Tov that has a distinct 50s feel to it. I keep waiting for the cast of Grease to appear on the bimah as we're singing...

Posted by: Kayla | Mar 26, 2007 5:24:06 PM

Did the guy have a good voice at least? I know many baalei musaf that even to the classic tunes they could not keep up with it. the type that while they are going through Kedusah, you look at the gabbai with a face that says "Where did you get this guy from"? or the "haven't you learned the lesson once that you have to ask the guy to daven again"?

Adon Olam to the tune of the wedding march? that sounds cute. My kids can use something different for those shabboses with an aufruf.

David S.

Posted by: David S | Mar 26, 2007 5:41:23 PM

Andrew Lloyd Webber - what an outrage!

Especially since only Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein or Lerner and Lowe are the only appropriate Broadway composers for any religious service.


(David, be very glad "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel wasn't selected. *shudder*)

Posted by: Carol Elaine | Mar 26, 2007 5:47:16 PM

I remember a Mussaf Kedusha, in an orthodox shul, when the chazzan used "Amazing Grace" as the underlying theme.

Yes, Amazing Grace. A polarizing "laugh-or-cry" situation indeed.

Whatever you just imagined happened afterwards...well, it was much worse.

Posted by: Yonah | Mar 26, 2007 6:02:06 PM

dfb1968 - No Classic 80's rock - ah gee, what do you call Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, or the Scorpians? : )

Personally, besides showtunes, I would definitely enjoy some 80's new wave melodies - Rock the Casbah (even says the word Kosher), Mony Mony or Come On, Eileen.

Posted by: jaime | Mar 26, 2007 7:15:44 PM

The use of "Close Every Door" may be a bit more understandable, if not quite condonable. About 25 years ago, MBD - er - "borrowed" the melody, set it to Yiddish lyrics, and renamed it "Lichtiger Shabbos." (It's on the Just One Shabbos album, for those keeping score.) I've heard many a Yeshiva guy earnestly sing the song under the chupa, complete with ersatz MBD-like vocal perorations, with no clue that he's channelling A.L. Webber. No excuses, however, for "Memories" and (yecchhh) Andrea Bocelli.

Posted by: psachya | Mar 26, 2007 7:43:52 PM

I think someone once posted a very very long list of pop songs and tunes to which Adon Olam can be sung to. My daughter (the opera diva wannabe) sang it to The Habanera from Bizet's CARMEN for her Bat Mitzvah. Other popular versions at our shul include the Beatles' YELLOW SUBMARINE, and ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK. Our shul is primarily and AShkenazi one. Various congregants take turns serving as Chazzan and personally, I enjoy the different melodies to the Tefillah. But most are variations on the same theme. Nothing too outrageous. But for those who are interested, try googling the list of melodies that can be used for Adon Olam. ON December 25, someone even used one of the X-mas carol melodies. It actually worked!!!!!

Posted by: Helene | Mar 26, 2007 8:15:32 PM

Hi Benji,

[[[You mean when we were singing "Adon Olam" to the tune of "The Lone Ranger" all those years at camp, it wasn't because our forefathers did so? I feel betrayed (although it did fit well, sacrilege aside.)]]]

I always imagined that The William Tell Overture was secretly Jewish...

And seriously, my voice is terrible and I only make Aliyah once in awhile.

And, Hashem surely knows that despite the horrible, tortured tunes and niggunim that issue from my throat, my prayers AKA davening ARE sincere and heartfelt.

That's half the reason I like the quiet murmur style of praying.


Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | Mar 26, 2007 8:19:52 PM

Come to Washington Heights and visit KAJ. Or, ask MarGavriel, he found another Old Western Ashkenazic shul in Jerusalem, in Ramot.

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Mar 26, 2007 9:23:05 PM

Oooh, someone mentioned "Adon Olam" to Sound of Silence... my cousin's a capella choir in Brandeis did that! :)

Posted by: Ezzie | Mar 26, 2007 9:51:07 PM

I'm not sure if that's too funny or too sad!

I'll never forget when I was in yeshiva a guy led "L'cha Dodi" to the tune of "The Saints." Can you believe it... a gospel Christian song!

Posted by: Shmuel | Mar 26, 2007 10:05:06 PM

I recall hearing a story from the 1960's of someone who davened musaf one shabbat to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair.
In the middle an old guy interrupted the davening and said: "In Europe, we only used that tune for Tisha B'av."

Posted by: nombody | Mar 26, 2007 10:38:07 PM

(what, you thought *I* was gonna ignore this one?)

Of course, there's never any excuse for Andrew Lloyd Webber in the synagogue; sheesh, there's only 20,000 showtunes written by Jewish composers out there; you have to use the shlockiest hack of the lot? (Although I confess to Joseph as a guilty pleasure, but that's another story).

I wouldn't necessarily make the Ashkenazi/Sephardi distinction, btw: the only time I heard the melody for "Memory" used during an Orthodox wedding ceremony was at a Sephardic service.

It's a tough balance between having a service fosslize and going too far in updating; my feeling is that if you're drawing more attention to your cleverness than the words, you've probably gone too far (also, when did the use of D'veykus tunes become a requirement for Mussaf?).

Posted by: efrex | Mar 26, 2007 11:10:16 PM

I was once at a service where the chazzan put everything to Elvis songs. Was kinda fun. Didn't get anything spiritual out of that service at all, but we did have a good time.

Posted by: projgen | Mar 27, 2007 12:12:24 AM

Well, David, don't feel so bad, we Christians have problems with the Karaoking of our hymns, too. One sad Sunday, for the "Special Music" section of the worship service, the old lady was singing what I presumed to be a hymn to Jesus, but the melody was Beautiful Dreamer...and was it awful!

Posted by: Jauhara | Mar 27, 2007 6:13:16 AM

So where do we draw the line here? Are we only allowed to use tunes brought over from "ze old country?" or ones we make up ourselves? Is the popular (secular) Israeli song "Erev shel shoshanim" ok? That one's used all the time in tefilah. Was it ok back in medieval times when European chazzanim were rumored to stand outside churches and steal their tunes? Hey, and for the Zionists and/or Israelis out there, do we care that the tune we use is a goyish one that made its way around Europe? Sorry 'bout all the questions. Just trying to understand the rules of these things. I mean, I always thought it was a judgment call, and somewhat subjective at times, but it seems to be much more cut-and-dry, so can you elaborate, please, David?

Posted by: ilan | Mar 27, 2007 9:06:51 AM

I've heard Adon Olam done to the tune of G-d Bless America, which was rather nice, right after 9/11...

Posted by: Russell | Mar 27, 2007 1:18:32 PM

that's why i leave during the haftorah and never come back.

Posted by: Robert I | Mar 27, 2007 5:21:42 PM

Yehuda Berlinger... Exactly!

Benji... Um, no. At least I'm pretty sure of that.

dfb1968... While that at least has some Jewish connection, it still represents an abandonment of tradition. (IMHO)

a. ... Don't get me started about choirs. puleeze.

Erica... Um, does the expression 'missing the point' mean anything to you? :-) Sheesh!

JDMDad... The question that needs to be asked is: Just because the song can fit to a wide range of popular songs, does that mean it should be?

seawitch... Oy. [see my comment to Erica]

jaime... At least the one you mention (slow to fast) was composed for Adon Olam and not adapted from pop culture. That's something at least.

Doctor Bean... Thank you (as always) for tossing gas on the fire. :-)

mochassid... I'm assuming that when you say 'never forgot it', you aren't implying that it was a life-changing religious moment for you. I think my most 'unforgettable' bad tune choice memory was the Chazan who began the Mussaf Kedusha to the bouncy tune of Haleluya (Na a reetz cha... v'nakdisha...). Oy.

David... Look, even though it is still inappropriate (IMHO), at least on simchat Torah one can make certain allowances for lunacy.

Bob... I guess I should count my blessings. :-)

Shifra... If someone ever did that in our shul... well, let's just say that there are penalties for such sacrilege in a house of worship where most of the men are armed. :-)

SaraK... Even though they are a departure from tradition, at least the boy choir and shiny shoe tunes are mostly Jewish (notice I said 'mostly)'.

Emily... As I told an earlier commenter, just because Adon Olam is very adaptable does not mean it necessarily should be adapted. Just my 2 cents.

Jack... [shakes head] The Rose?! Only in LA.

tnspr569... Which is why tradition in general...and nusach specifically, are in tatters.

Ben-David... 1) Oy; 2) That kind of 'culture' grows on shower curtains and month old tuna sandwiches; and 3) I have to differ with you on the Sephardi guys faking it. I've been in Sephardi (mostly Morroccan) minyans for Kabalat shabbat in dozens of places in the world and am pleased to hear them all doing it note for note.... word for word.

Kayla... that should be your first hint that it is probably not an appropriate choice. :-)

David S... On the off chance that this guy might find this blog I deleted 2.5 paragraphs of rather amusing descriptive of his voice and ability to carry a tune before hitting the publish button. 'nuff said.

Carol Elaine... Don't get me wrong... I happen to love show tunes, and Carousel is one of my favorites. I just find the intrusion of popular culture into the synagogue jarring.

Yonah... I'm actually baffled as to why that would be more offensive than some of the pop tunes mentioned here. Seriously... While Amazing Grace is a well known Christian anthem, it doesn't mention anything specifically antithetical to Jewish beliefs. And if you can borrow tunes from songs written and performed by rock stars, why is it any worse to use a tune universally associated with positive religious attributes such as redemption and forgiveness? (tshuvah).

psachya... That may be true, but I promise you that in MBD's shul they aren't using that tune for Kedusha.

Helene... There is an old story about a woman who berates a scoutmaster for taking his scouts to a rifle range to teach them about gun safety. She tells him that he is equipping them to be murderers. To this the scoutmaster responds that she (the woman) is equipped to be a prostitute, but that doesn't mean she would make that choice. I mention this old saw because, just because a prayer is equipped (from a syllabic perspective) to be adapted to pop songs and show tunes does not mean it should be.

Maksim-Smelchak... I'm right there with you. :-)

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)... Yeah, I'd like to see someone try to do ALW in Breuyers (sp?) :-)

Ezzie... There is a big difference between a choir 'performing' a creative version of a song for entertainment purposes and a ba'al tephilah doing so during a service. Wouldn't you agree?

Shmuel... Some people have absolutely no shame. :-)

nombody... I could totally see that happening. You have to remember that the late 60s saw the birth of the Havurah movement and the subsequent adapting of a lot of pop culture into Jewish observance in order to make it palatable to what were essentially hippies.

efrex... While a wedding is certainly a 'religious service' of sorts, it is somewhat more understandable that such liberties would be taken there (as opposed to, say, Neilah on Yom Kippur.

Projgen... "Didn't get anything spiritual out of that service at all, but we did have a good time." that about sums up my argument.

Jauhara Al-Kafirah... Glad to hear we aren't alone in this problem. :-)

ilan... Obviously the traditional tunes came from somewhere. But there is a big difference between the judicious introduction of a small variation once in a blue moon and every shabbat becoming a shameless talent show that detracts (and distracts) from what people would be doing in shul; praying. If it provides you with more kavanah (concentration), great. If it simply entertains without inspiring then what's the point. See my response to projgen above.

Russell... That was probably very inspirational at the time. But it would get laughs if you did it today. That, IMHO, is the litmus test of whether something is appropriate for the long term.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 27, 2007 5:21:57 PM

I agree, pretty much. But the way you originally put it, it seemed like you were taking issue with the choice of tune, and not the attitude brought to davening. Of course, you were inferring (and/or feeling) an attitude due to the song-choice. Fair enough. But cut the chazzan a little slack. I wasn't there, and maybe he was clearly just showing off his cleverness. But isn't it possible that he himself is inspired when the words are set to a beautiful tune?

I don't know. I guess we all have our pet peeves, but this just isn't at the top of my list of things that bug me about modern Ashkenazi minyanim.

Posted by: ilan | Mar 27, 2007 7:19:12 PM

I know, David, I'm just teasing. I'm not a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber solo (I do love some of the work he did with Tim Rice, however - such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita). In my eyes, Sondheim, Bernstein and Lerner and Lowe are appropriate, no matter the occasion. But I consider Sondheim a musical god, so there you have it.

BTW, Carousel? Hate it. With the passion of a thousand burning suns. I'm not much of a Rodgers and Hammerstein fan to begin with (though some of their songs I like on their own) and I find Carousel to be the worst of the lot, if only for these lines:

I didn't make it up, Mother. Honest, there was a strange man here, and he hit me hard. I heard the sound of it, Mother, but it didn't hurt. It didn't hurt at all. It was just as if he kissed my hand.

Hammerstein needs to be smacked for that alone, even if he has been dead for over 40 years. I know the musical was based on Liliom, but I still hate it.

Funny story, though. Back in the early 90's I attended a Carousel audition that my community theater was having. One of the auditioners sang You'll Never Walk Alone. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to know the lyrics quite as well as she should have, as her version changed the title and refrain to You'll Never Walk Again. While she had a nice enough voice, she didn't make the cut. Oops.

Posted by: Carol Elaine | Mar 27, 2007 7:24:58 PM

The rav of my shul back in America has taken an interest in this issue for some time now, and if I recall correctly, he discovered a surprising bit of non-Jewish influence in this area, from the popular music in previous eras. The latest manifestation of this trend isn't exactly surprising, seeing how it's been going on for quite a while now.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Mar 27, 2007 8:14:31 PM

My sympathies. I can only remember the old days when we would wonder, sometimes aloud, which of the two versions of Adon Olam the chazzan would pick, the traditional or "that new one". Never could keep up with that second one. ;-)

Posted by: jennifer | Mar 27, 2007 11:23:54 PM

Yes, David, "Amazing Grace" may have positive messages and be about wonderful things...assuming one knows the words. Perhaps you can agree that if most of the shul folks did not know beyond those two opening words, and all they really hear in that situation is "Church Church Jesus" then the negative reaction is more understandable.

Posted by: yonah | Mar 28, 2007 1:17:51 AM

I agree - I'm sure that none of the above tunes would have made it in MBD's shul. And I agree with your basic premise - the whole lounge lizard thing has no place in a shul. Anything that doesn't promote better concentration on prayers has no place in the service. BTW - slightly off topic, and I've asked this before - how the heck did "Shave and a Haircut" ever slither its way into "Aleinu"? Just askin'.

Posted by: psachya | Mar 28, 2007 11:46:17 AM

MO, The great holy smokes has gilligan tunes on yom tov???
the "rebbe" allows this crap?


Posted by: WHAT??? | Mar 28, 2007 7:24:43 PM

Amzing Grace is specifically Christian.
The idea of Grace as expressed in the soong is a particularly Christian idea, and I think relates to the teaching of Calvin with regard to the road to salvation.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Mar 28, 2007 8:41:17 PM

ilan... This is not a clearly defined thing I'm ranting about here. In some cases it is the tune. in other cases it is the source.

Carol Elaine... Great story! Reminds me of that SNL skit where Frank Sinatra has Alzheimer's and can't remember the words to his songs: "I got you under my house"... "Love and tractors, love and tractors"... My funny frankenstein..." :-)

tnspr569... I think your rabbi would probably differentiate between outside influences slowly creeping into our traditions and the headlong dash away from tradition that is taking place today.

jennifer... After reading all these comments I think you should count yourself lucky that your shul only had two versions. :-)

yonah... OK, I buy the whole 'it's Christian so it is inappropriate for use in shul'. But if you've read the words there is no explicit mention of JC.

jordan Hirsch... I never said it wasn't an entirely Christian song. I simply said it contained nothing that was antithetical to Judaism. Even the Christian concept of grace (as you pointed out) is referring to being sanctified and/or singled out by G-d.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 28, 2007 10:03:35 PM

Yes, but the idea of grace as something visited upon an individual by God and thus allowing that person to receive salvation is antithetical to Judaism We believe that everyone has the chance to do t'shuva by merit of their own efforts. Calvin conceived grace as something God could either grnt or withold, without the same idea of reward and punishment. His was a theology based on predestination.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Mar 29, 2007 2:55:46 AM

Hey Jordan, Who is Calvin? What is his surname? What other tunes did he write?

Posted by: Shmiel | Mar 29, 2007 2:59:37 AM

Some considerations in addition to "traditionalness" that matter:
1. The tune matches the proper mood of the piece.
2. Lines of the song do not end in mid-phrase or mid-sentence.
3. The tune allows the Hebrew words to be accented on the right syllables.
4. No excess words are jammed into the tune and no excess tune is jammed into the words.
5. No repetition of words is needed to make the tune work.
6. Sufficient time is allowed for the congregants to say their parts.
7. No sung notes are included that the chazzan can't handle.
8. If the new tune is not actually better than the previously used tune in that shul, who needs the new one?

Posted by: Bob Miller | Mar 29, 2007 9:11:02 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.