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Jewish Prayers: Addir Hu

Addir Hu (Hebrew, "Mighty is He") is a hymn in the form of an alphabetic acrostic enumerating the qualities of God (mighty, blessed, great), and imploring Him to rebuild the Temple, a prayer which is repeated in the refrain:

"Speedily, speedily/In our days, and soon to come;/ Build, O God! Build, O God/ Build Thy house speedily."

Addir Hu is one of several hymns added to the Passover Haggadah in the Middle Ages to be chanted after the conclusion of the formal part of the seder service according to the Ashkenazi rite. Since the 16th century Addir Hu appears in printed texts. A Judeo-German version recited by Ashkenazi Jews was first printed in Gershom b. Solomon ha-Kohen's Haggadah (Prague, 1527). Because of the refrain in that version (Bau dein Tempel shire) the Jews of southern and western Germany called the seder night "Baunacht" and the celebrating of the seder "bauen," i.e., to build. In the Avignon Maḥzor (1775) it is recited on all festivals.

Only in the Ashkenazi tradition is Addir Hu given greater prominence than the other Haggadah songs. It is sung to basically the same tune in all Jewish homes, and this is used in the synagogue as a musical motif of the festival. The music appeared in print as early as 1644 but may be even older, since one of its variants is in a Shtayger scale with a diminished seventh. In the 18th century it was often quoted in cantorial Passover compositions. In the synagogue, the tune is used in various parts of the service, including the Hallel, the Kaddish over the Scroll of the Law, and the Priestly Benediction. The domestic versions introduce many variations, abbreviations, and distortions characteristic of folk music.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

E.D. Goldschmidt, Haggadah shel Pesaḥ (1960), 75; Davidson, Oẓar, 1 (1924), 52, no. 1086; E. Pauer, Traditional Hebrew Melodies (1896); Selig, in: Der Jude, 3 (1769), 385–7 (see facsimile). MUSIC: Idelsohn, Melodien, 6, pt. 1 (1932), 63, no. 155; 68–69, nos. 164, 165, 167; 72, no. 171; 83, no. 199; 184, no. 200; ldelsohn, Music, index (18th-cent. works); F.J. Fétis, Histoire générale de la Musique, 1 (1869), 467 (earliest Oriental version).