3 min.
2012

Winning piece for the Ithaca College Thirty-Sixth Annual Choral Composition Contest, and The Robert Campbell ’40, M.S. ’50, Endowed Choral Composition Prize


Berakhot (ברכות ) is the Hebrew word for “blessing,” and the text for this piece is that of a blessing that appears in the Berakhot Tractate of the Babylonian Talmud.  According to the Tractate, this blessing was spoken by the third century Rabbi Ammi in Tiberias.

Note: This piece can be performed with either piano or harp accompaniment.  The piece was originally written for choir and harp.

Romanized Hebrew pronunciation tips:

  • “ei” is pronounced like “ay” in “say”, ([εi] in IPA)
  • “ay” or “ai” is pronouced like “y” in “fly” ([ai] in IPA)
  • an apostrophe with no vowel indicates an unaccented schwa like the “a” in about ([ə] in IPA)
  • “ch” is that iconic Hebrew guttural sound, like the “ch” in “chutzpah” ([x] in IPA)

from Talmud Bavli, Tractate Berakhot 17a

Olamcha tireh v’chayecha
V’acharitcha l’chayay haOlam haBa
V’tikvat’cha l’dor dorim
Lib’cha yehge t’vunah
Picha y’daber chachmot
U’lshoncha yarchish r’nanot
Af’apecha yaishiru negdecha
Einecha ya’iru b’me’or Torah
U’fanecha yazhiru k’zohar harakiya
Siftotecha yabiu da’at
V’chliyotecha ta’alozna meisharim
U’fe’amecha yarutzu lishmoa
Divrei Atik Yomin

Translation

May you live to see your world in your lifetime*
May your end be for the life of the world to come
And your hope from generation to generation
May your heart conceive understanding
May you mouth speak wisdom
And may your tongue bring forth song
May your eyelids look straight before you
May your eyes shine in the light of the Torah
And may your face shine like the brightness of the heavens
May your lips express knowledge
And may you rejoice in righteousness**
And may your feet run to hear
The words of the Ancient of Days***

* Or, “may you live to see your world fulfilled”
** Literally: “may your kidneys rejoice in righteousness”
The kidneys were believed to be the emotional center of the body, with a similar metaphorical significance as we give the heart.
*** “Atik Yomin” is an Aramaic title for God meaning “Ancient of Days”

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Berakhot (SATB) - Casey Rule

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Berakhot (SSA) - Casey Rule

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Berakhot (Solo voice/unison choir) - Casey Rule

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Berakhot (Harp part) - Casey Rule

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SATB

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Solo voice

Harp part