The Friday Night Service has some of the best musical
settings for Shabbat. The music is rich and mellow, composers weaving
beautifully crafted melodies to match the words. Most of the pieces here are
currently sung in our synagogue, but there are some arrangements that are
slightly different. Some accents have been shifted to correct the Hebrew
pronunciation, and there are some new pieces, all modern compositions. Jewish
Music is continuing to develop both here and abroad and shows that there is a
desire to keep the services vital and refreshingly alive to more modern musical
tastes. We are keeping the best of the old too!
Cover art from the CD
1. YEDID NEFESH – CHASIDIC / PURSA
Friday Night Services start with this most passionate of
love songs. It describes how God’s love for his people Israel is compared to
honey which drips from the honey comb. The fusion of the musical setting of
Yedid Nefesh creates an evocative atmosphere of the acceptance of the onset of
- CHASIDIC / SCHAPOSCHNIK / MOMBACH
The most frequently used melody has been recorded for
this CD. It is the tradition in many of our synagogues for the chazan to change
the melody at the half way point. This rendition has a further change and
finishes with a lyrical Boi Vshalom, composed by Gershon Schaposchnik who
served as chazan in Instabul in between the two World Wars. The concluding
L’cha Dodi is a very old Mombach melody which was the staple diet in the United
Synagogue until recent times.
3. TSADIK KATAMAR – LEWANDOWSKY
Lewandovskys’ composition for this prayer is as majestic as the
words, which talks about the tall Cedars of Lebanon. This very well known
melody is known throughout the Ashkenazi world. Tsadik Katamar completes the
first section of the Friday Night Service leading into Ma-ariv.
4. V’SHAMRU – TRADITIONAL
Taken straight from the Torah, (Exodus Chapter 31 Verses
16 & 17), this musical setting which precedes the Half Kaddish and the
silent Amida sets a quiet reflective passage of serenity and tranquillity to
accept the peace for the arrival of Shabbat. ‘The children of Israel will keep
the Sabbath as an everlasting covenant, because the Lord made the heavens and
the earth in six days and he rested on the seventh’.
5.MAGEIN AVOT – REZUMNI
After the congregation has sung through Magein Avot,
otherwise known as the Bir-chat M’ein Sheva, the Chazan then repeats the text
in what is essentially a précis of the Amida.
The setting of the music composed by Rezumni is a dramatic,
classical interpretation, which allows for an artistic rendition by the Chazan.
6. KIDDUSH – GERSHON SCHAPOSCHNIK / LEWANDOWSKY
Wine has its own special place in Judaism. Every Shabbat
and Festival is sanctified by it and after making the appropriate Bracha, the
wine is drunk therefore becoming part of the person, and in that sense,
sanctifies the person. In the centre section of the Kiddush, the music of
Lewandovsky has been included, and his melodic line for Ki Va-nu V’char-ta is
internationally known for the congregation to join in.
7. YISMACH MOSHE – CHASIDIC
A bright rendition of the fourth Bracha of the Amida.
Moses rejoiced in the honour afforded him as the man who would receive the
Torah on Har Sinai. Wouldn’t you be happy at such a great honour?
8. V’AL KULAM – MEIR FINKLESTEIN
Meir Finklestein is at the forefront of modern Jewish
composition. His musical talent of bringing out the meaning of the words is
extraordinary. There are two of his pieces in this album, which are part of his
Shabbat Service written for Chazan and Choir.
9. ROFEI ELYON – PAUL ZIM
Ro-fei el-yon, sh-lach r-fua sh-lei-ma l-chol cho-lei a-me-cha,
B-toch yosh-vei tei-veil v-al kol yis-rael v-no-mar, amen.
Great source of strength, send healing and spiritual
well-being to all who suffer pain. Bless all who are ill. Now let us respond:
Cantor Saul Zim was delighted to learn that I had heard this
special prayer and that it was to be recorded and included in this CD.
Rofei Elyon is a prayer for those who are unwell, and is sung
prior to the Torah being taken back to the Ark.
10. EITS CHAYIM HI – PORTNOY
This very well known melody is a favourite in Woodside
Park. It’s a very pretty tune and every one sings!
11. HU ELOKEINU – STEPHEN GLASS
This haunting melody was written for me around 1986 by
Stephen Glass, for a Wigmore Hall Concert. This sweet lyrical rendition is new
to Woodside Park and is sure to become a favourite!
12. L’DOR VADOR – MEIR FINKLESTEIN
From generation to generation we will declare Your
greatness. L’dor Vdor and the earlier piece V’al Kulam show a strong musical
connection to each other. Both pieces were written for choir and chazan but
work very well for congregational singing.
13. KAD’SHEINU – GROSS
This bright rendition of kadsheinu reflects the joy and happiness of
Shabbat, v’sam’chei-nu bi-shu-a-te-cha and make us rejoice in your
14. SIM SHALOM – taken from A.Z. IDLESOHN
Based on traditional motifs for Shabbat, this melody
allows for congregational singing and rounds off the Mussaf service.
15. EIN KEILOHEINU – ZVI TALMAN
A haunting melody for a much loved poem towards the end
of the Shabbat morning service. Sung as a duet, Nic Gilbert’s singing completes
this lovely setting.
16. ADON OLAM – STEPHEN GLASS
There have been many musical settings for Adon Olam.
Stephen Glass wrote this one initially for his childrens’ choir in Montreal,
and was performed in Woodside Park at the ‘Three Cantors and a Choir’
The distribution of a CD with a magazine is not a new idea, but is most unusual when associated with a shul magazine.
The concept was to make a recording of the melodies that have been sung in our community over the last 2 years as well as introducing some new ones. There are 16 tracks on the CD.
I am pleased to also include the younger generation. Nicholas Gilbert has sung many times with me in Woodside Park. He has shown
considerable talent and an interest in the continuity of our rich Jewish Music
heritage. He joins me, singing on the last 2 tracks. Nic has been involved in
my concerts in London, Belfast and Dublin to great acclaim, and has recently
been approached to sing with the Shabbaton Choir for the Midnight Slichot
My main concern has always been accurate interpretation and
understanding of the Hebrew text combined with beautiful music, and putting the
accents and stresses in the right places.
I would like to mention Stephen Glass without whom this CD would not have been possible. Stephen has a very special talent for achieving musical excellence through his remarkable piano accompaniment, applying a deep understanding of the texts, accents, and interpretation.
The first track, Yedid Nefesh will initially sound a little odd to our regular Friday Night congregants, but the accent shifting ensures correct Hebrew reading!
I would like to take this opportunity of saying thank you to the many people who have supported me in this hugely time consuming venture. Firstly to my wife Ros, for putting up with me being permanently attached to my computer. My son Rich for his design ideas, and a special mention to Sharon Murad and our Honorary officers, who encouraged me to make this CD.
I thank them for offering their valuable advice and support in getting it finished and out with the magazine.
Most of all, I would like to express my grateful thanks to all those who through their generous donations to the synagogue made this CD possible.
Cantor Stephen Robins
ARCM Dip JC
Nicholas has become Woodside Park’s boy soloist.
He has been taught singing by Chazan Robins over for the past two years, and has progressed to becoming an accomplished performer.
He has a beautiful soprano voice and has sung with Chazan Robins on many occasions on a Shabbat Morning. His first ‘major’ concert was in the ‘Three Cantors and a Choir’ concert in Woodside Park and he has sung with great success in Belfast and Dublin, where he received a standing ovation.
Building on his success he has recently been asked to perform with the Shabbaton Choir for midnight Slichot.
From Hershel Rader – Rav, Woodside Park Synagogue
The power of music to enhance our prayers is an integral part of Jewish tradition; melody can open the heart and heighten the senses, inducing a true sense of kavanna – devotion.
Chazan Stephen Robins initiative to record some of the tunes he uses in the Shabbat services offers an opportunity to the wider community to familiarise themselves with his unique blend of traditional and modern liturgical music.
I am sure that this album will be an enjoyable listening experience for all our members and hopefully inspire them to even more regular Synagogue attendance.
Recorded in Montreal and Wembley Middlesex. Thanks to:- Toby Wood at Phoenix Sound, Wembley Fred Ganon at Tempo Studio, Montreal Bradley Rubenstein, Redbridge. Sharon Murad for help and advice. My son Rich, for designing the front cover Stephen Glass in Montreal for his unfailing support and guidance in the making of this CD.