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From Haven to Home: Sacred Music

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Jewish activists saw a need to reinvigorate the music of the synagogue. They argued that it had strayed too far from its roots in Jewish tradition, incorporating elements from popular operas and church masses. In his hymnal displayed below, Moritz Goldstein, the reader at Cincinnati's Mound Street Temple, sought “to select the best from the various Jewish text-books in use in this country, and so to arrange them that not only the choir, but also the congregation may take part in their rendition.”

Moritz Goldstein
Kol Zimroh: A Hymn Book for Temples and Sabbath Schools, and Adapted for Choirs and Congregational Singing.
Cincinnati, Ohio: M. Goldstein, 1885.
Printed hymnal.
Music Division

Otto Lob's German-English hymnal published in Chicago, which included simple, natural, and light rearrangements of traditional melodies, was also part of the effort to revitalize liturgical music. The Jewish Women's Congress, chaired by Hannah Solomon, worked with cantors Reverend William Sparger of New York and Reverend Alois Kaiser of Baltimore to publish this collection of "The Principal Melodies of the Synagogue From the Earliest Time to the Present" as a commemorative volume available at the World's Parliament of Religions held in conjunction with the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.


Songs of Zion: Souvenir of the
Jewish Women's Congress
, 1893.
National Council of Jewish Women Collection.
Manuscript Division
Otto Lob.
Israelitsche tempel-gesänge

[Songs for Divine Service of Israelites].
Chicago, Illinois: E. Rubovits, 1876.
Printed hymnal.
Muic Division

In this composition for the synagogue, Leonard Bernstein sets to music the popular liturgical hymn “Yigdal,” a poetic statement of the Maimonidean creed [thirteen principles of the Jewish faith] that often marks the end of the evening service. Bernstein's "Yigdal" was written for the United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education and included in Harry Coopersmith's anthology, U-leshonenu rinah: The Songs We Sing (New York, 1950).


Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990).
Yigdal: A Round for Jewish Voices.”
Holograph score.
Leonard Bernstein Collection.
Music Division

Sources: Library of Congress