Adon Olam (Pharrell Williams – “Happy”)

JEWISH MUSIC ROCKS – yes, it’s true, the meter of Adon Olam renders it possible to sing it to almost any melody – and most Hebrew school students have, at one time or another, if their teachers are letting them have that kind of fun!!

This  Shabbat morning we ended services with the Pharrell Williams melody for “Happy” which is omnipresent in our musical worlds these days, but changed the words to a classic Jewish poem – Adon Olam / Master of the Universe – sung by Listen Up! A Cappella.

 

 

Adon Olam (“Lord of the World”) is alleged to be composed in the 11th century by Solomon ibn Gabirol. The word “Adon,” meaning master, was first spoken by Abraham in the Bible, referring to God. The lyrics speak about God’s greatness and all-empowering existence. There have been countless melodies adjoined to this hymn.

Adon Olam is the final prayer of the Musaf service on Shabbat morning and festivals. It can also be found in the composition of bedtime prayers and is recited on one’s deathbed. In the next to last line of the Adon Olam is a request that God watch over one’s soul as they sleep. The conclusion of Adon Olam mentions God’s presence and ability to bring reassurance to the people.

ADON OLAM MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE

Adon olam, asher malach,
b’terem kol y’tzir nivra.
L’et na’asah v’cheftzo kol,
azai melech sh’mo nikra.

V’acharey kichlot hakol,
l’vado yimloch nora.
V’hu haya, v’hu hoveh,
v’hu yih’yeh b’tifara.

V’hu echad, v’eyn sheni
l’hamshil lo, l’hachbira.
B’li reishit, b’li tachlit,
v’lo ha’oz v’hamisrah.

V’hu Eli, v’chai go’ali,
v’tzur chevli b’et tzarah.
V’hu nisi umanos li,
m’nat kosi b’yom ekra.

B’yado afkid ruchi
b’et ishan v’a’irah.
V’im ruchi g’viyati,
Adonai li v’lo ira.

The Lord of the Universe who reigned
before anything was created.
When all was made by his will
He was acknowledged as King.

And when all shall end
He still all alone shall reign.
He was, He is,
and He shall be in glory.

And He is one, and there’s no other,
to compare or join Him.
Without beginning, without end
and to Him belong dominion and power.

And He is my G-d, my living G-d.
to Him I flee in time of grief,
and He is my miracle and my refuge,
who answers the day I shall call.

To Him I commit my spirit,
in the time of sleep and awakening,
even if my spirit leaves,
G-d is with me, I shall not fear.

אֲדוֹן עוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר מָלַךְ,
בְּטֶרֶם כָּל יְצִיר נִבְרָא.
לְעֵת נַעֲשָׂה בְחֶפְצוֹ כֹּל,
אֲזַי מֶלֶךְ שְׁמוֹ נִקְרָא.

וְאַחֲרֵי כִּכְלוֹת הַכֹּל,
לְבַדּוֹ יִמְלוֹךְ נוֹרָא.
וְהוּא הָיָה, וְהוּא הֹוֶה,
וְהוּא יִהְיֶה, בְּתִפְאָרָה.

וְהוּא אֶחָד וְאֵין שֵׁנִי,
לְהַמְשִׁיל לוֹ לְהַחְבִּירָה.
בְּלִי רֵאשִׁית בְּלִי תַכְלִית,
וְלוֹ הָעֹז וְהַמִּשְׂרָה.

וְהוּא אֵלִי וְחַי גֹּאֲלִי,
וְצוּר חֶבְלִי בְּעֵת צָרָה.
וְהוּא נִסִּי וּמָנוֹס לִי,
מְנָת כּוֹסִי בְּיוֹם אֶקְרָא.

בְּיָדוֹ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי,
בְּעֵת אִישַׁן וְאָעִירָה.
וְעִם רוּחִי גְּוִיָּתִי,
יְיָ לִי וְלֹא אִירָא.

This and much more information about all things Jewish  is available from the Jewish Virtual Library.

Sources: Eisenberg, Ronald L. The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions. PA: Jewish Publication Society, 2004; “What is in the Siddur? Shabbat and Holiday Liturgy”; “Adon Olam”; Wigoder, Geoffrey , Ed. The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Facts on File, 1992; “Song: Adon Olam”.

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