The information about the sources and the particular context of each song is a work in progress. These summaries, variously based on the observations of composers, writers, and/or authoritative interpreters of each song, are provided to assist in the presentation, teaching, and performance of this music. We welcome additional or corrective information to this resource, which may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A song by the late Rabbi Shalome Carlebach, comes from a musical village tht he founded in Israel. It is the birthplace of many Jewish songs enjoyed around the world. The Hebrew word "tshuva," often translated as repentance during Yom Kippur, literally means "return." This has a deeply spiritual sense of coming back to the source of our being to re-establish right relationship with yourself and others.
Written in 1983, the composer shares these words, “Earth shakes out a mantle of green—each blade of grass true to the integrity within, yet together with others is the rise of spring from winter's urging. Our coming is with the grass—the common which persists, unexalted, but with the essence of life. Our humanness, our rhythms and dreams, the faith which nurtures our ardent love and hope for life—all this we share with earth community, of which we are natural and connected beings."
Rivers of Babylon
This title refers to a time in the 6th-5th centuries B.C.E., when the Jewish people were led off into exile following the destruction of their nation and temple. These experiences produced a literature, as reflected in Psalm 137, “by the rivers of Babylon...” that expressed their desire for repentance and reconciliation with God, and a return to the land of Judah. It is a popular church tune in Jamaica. Rastafarians who reside there sing it all the time. This tune was popularized in the U.S. by its inclusion in a movie The Harder They Come starring reggae great, Jimmy Cliff. The most notable version of "Rivers of Babylon" was recorded by The Melodians, a famous Jamaican singing group. The soundtrack album is still available in the U.S. from Island Records (314) 586-1582 (another version is available through Amazon).
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Last updated on Monday, April 9, 2012.
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