Birkat Kohanim

Instrumentation: SATB Divisi
Duration: 3:00
Commission: The University Singers and conductor Michael Slon of the University of Virginia
Premiere: 11/9/12
University Singers conducted by Michael Slon
Old Cabell Auditorium, UVA,
Charlottesville, VA

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Program Note:
Birkat Kohanim
, known as The Priestly Blessing, is drawn from the Bible, Numbers 6:24-26, of which I have set verses 24-26. In the Orthodox Jewish tradition, this prayer is recited by male descendants of Aaron (the Kohanim). There are varying traditions within Judaism regarding its use, both in the daily liturgy, the Sabbath services, and as a benediction, or at ceremonies such as weddings. Conductor Michael Slon suggested setting this text in the original Hebrew. I was happy to do so, as I was drawn to both its spiritual and sonic qualities. The translation below is based on the literal meaning of the Hebrew. Birkat Kohanim was commissioned by University Singers at the University of Virginia with their conductor Michael Slon and is dedicated to them. –JS


May the Lord bless and keep you
May the Lord shine His face upon you and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord lift up His face to you and grant you peace.

Hebrew Transliteration

Y’-va-re-ch’-cha  A-do-nai v’-yish-m’-re-cha.
Ya-eir A-do-nai pa-nav ei-le-cha vi-chun-ne-ka
Yi-sa A-do-nai pa-nav  ei-le-cha v’-ya-seim l’-cha shalom.

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