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Rhoda Leah Agin | Celebrating The Sabbath Queen - Rhoda Agin And Friends

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Latin: Cuban World: Klezmer Moods: Type: Vocal
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Celebrating The Sabbath Queen - Rhoda Agin And Friends

by Rhoda Leah Agin

Long-awaited upbeat and fun sabbath table melodies in Latin, klezmer and inspirational genres including a booklet of english translations and transliterations for each song. Thirty musicians and singers join in the celebration.
Genre: Latin: Cuban
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lecha Dodi
5:49 album only
2. Yom Zeh L'yisrael
3:40 album only
3. Ahavat Olam And Menucha V'simcha
5:54 album only
4. Ya Ribon Olam
4:00 album only
5. Tsur Misheloh Achalnu
4:58 album only
6. Yom Zeh M'chubad
3:07 album only
7. Shabbat Hayom
4:47 album only
8. Ki Eshmirah Shabbat
3:40 album only
9. Bnai Haichalah
2:40 album only
10. Im Tasheev M'shabbat
3:21 album only


Album Notes
Celebrating the Sabbath Queen
With Rhoda Agin and Friends
Dedication: My parents grew-up in families where singing at the dinner table on the Sabbath was a family tradition. My mother hailed from a musical family and enjoyed a stint singing and acting in the New York Yiddish theatre. My father loved to listen to my mother sing. The purpose of this collection of Sabbath songs is to share the enduring pleasure of honoring the Sabbath with music and honor my parents’ who celebrated the Sabbath with musical memories. May their guidance, insight, enjoyment of Jewish music and love of the Jewish people continue to nurture their children, grandchildren and their progeny.

In loving memory of
September 1906 - Shvat 16, January 1986
September 1898 – Adar II, March 1988
by their devoted daughter Rhoda Leah Agin

May their memories be blessed.

Background: I began to write melodies for Sabbath poems (zemirot) as a lonely graduate student living in Chicago in 1970s, where I knew no one. Zemirot are sung around the table at festive Sabbath/Shabbat meals; in between courses or after the meal before saying grace. Since I was alone during the Sabbath, I began to play with the harmonies and tempos of zemirot that I knew. Some Sabbath poems did not seem to have melodies associated with them or I had never heard one. Others -to my mind- had unappealing melodies. Gradually, while spending Shabbat considering and singing various zemirot, I began to sing my own versions of them and even change a melody, tempo and style completely. By the end of my studies, I composed two new tunes; Yom Zeh L’Yisrael and Yom Zeh M’chubad, and created a new rendition of Tsur Mishelo. These melodies were partial to the klezmer genre popular at Jewish celebrations. In subsequent years, I composed waltzes and Latin melodies that favored my musical interest in dance rhythms. The last melody in this collection (Im Tashiv m’Shabbat), was composed by me in 2009.

Jewish Sabbath Table Songs:
The singing of songs during Sabbath meals was likely heard in ancient Israel based upon Talmudic references, according to Levin (1981). During the Middle Ages, Hebrew and Aramaic speaking poets living in communities surrounding the Mediterranean Sea began to compose songs specifically for singing during Sabbath meals. As this custom spread throughout Europe so did the styles and genre of melodies and rhythms, yet the emphasis and intent was to enrich the Sabbath milieu with spirituality, joy, holiness and praise of G-d for giving the gift of the Sabbath day and the benefits of keeping the day of rest. Singing zemirot was never required, rather a spontaneous attempt to enhance the three Sabbath meals. They were always sung a cappella. Despite political and societal upheavals of the 16th to 18th centuries within and beyond the Jewish community, zemirot were heard in Jewish homes internationally.

The Sabbath Queen:
It is written that Rabbi Ḥanina used to put on his Sabbath clothes before sunset of Sabbath eve and exclaim: "Come and let us go forth to welcome the Queen Shabbat" and Rabbi Yannai used to put on his finest clothing at that time and call out, "Come, O bride! Come, O bride!"
These Talmudic stories served as the main motif for the Shabbat hymn "Lecha Dodi" by Solomon ha-Levi Alkabetz a kabbalist of the Israeli city of Safed. Alkabetz welcomed the Shabbat by going into the fields on Fridays at sunset to recite special prayers and hymns in honor of the Shabbat amid nature. In traditional synagogues, this prayer is recited no later than half an hour after sunset on Fridays.
In modern times, esteemed Hebrew poet, Chaim Nachman Bialik (1873-1940) wrote “Shabbat, Our Queen” Shabbat Hamalka in 1933. The first stanza is included here.
Shabbat, Our Queen
The sun on the treetops is no longer seen,
Come out to welcome Shabbat, our Queen.
Now she descends, the holy, the blessed,
And with her angels of peace and of rest.
Come, oh come, our Queen, our pride.
Come, oh come, dearest bride.
Peace be unto you, you angels of peace.

Notes on a Few Zemirot:
I learned Tsur Mishelo in the 1960s working in Camp Young Judaea in North Carolina. The song was sung by Israeli Avram Grobard; the camp’s music director. I have been singing it ever since and created a verse embellishment. The chorus melody is Tsur Mishelo version #9 in Neil Levin's Zemirot Anthology (1981). Levin described it as "from Kisselgof, Lieder Sammelbuch.” Further research elaborated that Yiddish musician and educator Susman Kisselgoff, recorded Jewish folk music for the Society of Jewish Folk Music. Subsequently, the Society supported the publication of a Song Collection for Jewish Schools and Home (1912, St. Petersberg, p. 31) edited by Kisselgoff in which this Tsur Mishelo chorus melody was first published.

Ahavat Olam and Menucha v’Simcha melodies were written by my grandfather Chazan Bezalel Gershon Itzkowitz z”l who died many years before my birth. My uncle Jacob (Jack) Arkin z”l sang them to me occasionally on shabbat when I was a youngster. He was in his father’s choir as a child and Uncle Jack, loved to sing the melodies once sung by the choir. Unfortunately, there was no one alive from his childhood choir to sing with him. So, I was enlisted as “the choir,” so to speak, and he liked to be the soloist! As I recalled my grandfather’s melodies, I thought they should be included in this CD or they would be lost to subsequent generations.

Pronunciation: All the poems are sung in the Sephardic pronunciation as spoken in modern day Israel. The exception is the word “Shabbes” rather than “Shabbat” as in “Yom Zeh L’Yisrael.” Admittedly, some adjustments to stress patterns have been made whle singing in an attempt to maintain the Latin, waltz, and other rhythms in the collection.

Translations and Transliterations: English translations and transliterations for tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 were generously contributed by Dr. Barry Walfish from his Sabbath songbook titled Let Us Sing. The remaining zemirot were translated into the English and transliterated by me - with the benefit of traditional prayer book sources and my own modest Hebrew skills.

There are several systems for transliterating the Hebrew language. A popular system is employed here for the non-reader of Hebrew. Spelling changes the meaning of a word, even though we may make no distinction in pronunciation. In the Hebrew alphabet, there are two different letters typically pronounced similarly in modern Hebrew conversation; the “khof” and the “ḥet”; formally transliterated respectively as kh and ḥ. In colloquial English, both of those palatal Hebrew sounds do not exist in our phonological system. Therefore, they are written below as the more familiar “ch” sound we often hear in the words Chanukah or Bach.




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