Monday, July 28, 2008

More "misplaced commas" :)

Remember this post? I've come across a few more "misplaced commas"--pauses in the music of songs that break up phrases in the lyrics--since then.

Here's a quote from the aforementioned post that might serve as an illustration, not to mention a lead-in, for this one:

"Open your siddur to K'riat HaTorah, the Torah-Reading Service.

This quote (Eicha/The Book of Lamentation, chapter 5, verse 21) is the last thing that we sing at the end of this service before the Aron Kodesh/Holy "Ark" (in which the Torah scrolls are stored) is closed:

"Hashiveinu AdoShem
eilecha v'nashuvah"

Three of the tunes that I know for that passage in the Torah Service "break" in that same place.

Again, read the same passage in translation:
"Turn us, HaShem
to You and let us return" (Birnbaum Siddur's translation, more or less.)

As with a p'sik in a Torah reading, you have to stop there in the song."

On to the new--While we're on the subject of the songs sung during Hotzaat haTorah, the Torah Service (the "taking out" of the Torah), let's try this one from the beginning of that section:

"Ki v'cha
l'vad batachnu"

For in You

alone do we trust

Given the meaning of the words, that's an odd place for a "break" in the music.

But then again, as I said, when it comes to words, "language" people like me (BA in French) listen for meaning, whereas songwriters listen for sound.

Then there's the interesting "break" in the first paragraph of Birkat haMazon, the Grace After Meals. Check this out:

". . . u-v'tuvo hagadol, tamid lo chasar lanu v'al yachsar lanu mazon l'olam vaed

baavur sh'mo hagadol, ki hu Kel zan u-m'farneis lakol . . ."

Attempting my own translation:

" . . . and in His great goodness, never has He deprived us and never will He deprive us of food
for the sake of His great name, For He is the G-d who feeds and sustains all . . . "

Okay, I tipped my hand by capitalizing the word "For": Folks, once you put a "ki" in there, it's a given that you've started a new sentence or phrase. Clearly, "baavur sh'mo hagadol, for the sake of His great name" belongs with the previous sentence.

One of my all-time favorites for "breaks"--though this is a question of punctuation, not of music--is the second part of the prayer "Baruch Sheh-Amar, Praised is the One who spoke." Here's a classic case of "two Jews, three opinions"--the "breaks" fall all over the place.

Open in front of me are the following siddurim/prayer books:

  • Hertz (copyright 1948, 16th printing 1979)--Orthodox
  • Birnbaum (copyright 1949)--Orthodox
  • ArtScroll Siddur Kol Yaakov Nusach Ashkenaz (copyright 1984 and 1990)--Orthodox
  • Siddur Sim Shalom (1985 edition)--Conservative
I'm going to copy some of the words (with the ArtScroll translation, more or less, that being the most contemporary and, I hope, accurate of the four), showing you which punctuation is used in each book.

". . . m'shubach u-m'foar bil'shon chassidav va-avadav
. . . praised and glorified by the tongue of his devout ones and his servants
[ends with a comma in ArtScroll, Hertz; ends with a period in Birnbaum, Sim Shalom]

u-v'shirei David avdecha
and in the songs of David Your servant
(period in ArtScroll; comma in Hertz, Birnbaum; no punctuation in Sim Shalom]

N'halelcha HaShem Elokeinu bi-sh'vachot u-vi-z'mirot
We will laud You, HaShem/Lord our G-d in praises and songs . . .

We have here two different variations on the meaning of the words:

1) . . . .praised and glorified by the tongue of his devout ones and his servants, and in the songs of David Your servant. We will laud You, HaShem/Lord our G-d, in praises and songs . . .

2) . . . praised and glorified by the tongue of his devout ones and his servants. And in the songs of David Your servant we will laud You, HaShem/Lord our G-d. In praises and songs . . .

[Tangent: I was startled to see that Psalm 30, Mizmor, Shir Chanukat HaBayit, L'David, A Psalm, A Song for the Dedication of the House (Holy Temple), by/of/for/to (depending on your translation and/or belief) (King) David, does not appear at all in the Hertz Siddur between the Rabbi Yishmael quote from the Gemara and the prayer Baruch ShehAmar. I was even more startled to see that, according to Hertz--Rabbi Joseph Hertz was the late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire--the tallit and tefillin were to be put on just before Baruch ShehAmar. I also just noticed that, according to the ArtScroll's editors, one puts on a tallit and tefillin before even going to synagogue--Ma Tovu, recited upon entering the synagogue, appears later in this siddur. I am totally unacquainted with either of those minhagim/customs. In every synagogue that I've ever attended, tallit and tefillin were/are put on immediately upon entering the shul. However, my rabbi tells me that he saw men wearing tallit and tefillin on the way to synagogue in Jerusalem. Perhaps this is minhag Yerushalmi, the (a?) custom of Jerusalem.]
Ahem. Where was I before I so rudely interrupted myself? Oh, yes: Here's where I have fun. Check out the line just before the closing brachah/blessing:

Yachid, chei haolamim, melech m'shubach u-m'foar adei ad sh'mo hagadol.

ArtScroll translation: O Unique One, Life-giver of the worlds, King Whose great Name is eternally praised and glorified.

My translation: Only One, life of the worlds, king praised and glorified, forever is His name the Great One.

I rather like my translation.

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