Shabbat songs

FEATURE ARTICLE : the Shabbat, the day of rest, is a very important event of Jewish life. And the songs that rhythm this particular day hold a major place, at the synagogue as well as at home…

According to the Hebrew Bible, God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day. This day was blessed, proclaimed holy, and instituted as a day of rest (Exodus 20:8-11). In the Jewish tradition, the Shabbat, seventh day of the week, starts on Friday at sunset and ends on saturday evening when three stars appear, approximately 40 minutes after dusk.

The root of the word « Shabbat » (in Hebrew שבת) comes from Hebrew shev (שב), or lashevet (לשבת), which means « to sit down ». Shabbat is thus a day to rest, out of time and material contingencies, one day in which the activities are reduced to the strict minimum, in order to come back to the essential : the family and the shared moments such as meals, prayers, and study of the Torah.

The songs hold an important place in the Shabbat rituals, such as the lighting of the candles, the Friday night Kiddush (blessing on the wine), the Birkat hamazone (prayers at the end of a meal), the Havdala (last Kiddush which closes Shabbat). The songs are also omnipresent during the five services and four Shabbat meals.

The welcoming of the Shabbat (Kabbalat shabbat) starts on Friday before dusk with songs such as Ana Bekoa’h (a prayer attributed, according to the Talmud, to Rabbi Nechounia ben Hakanah), Lekha dodi (attributed to the kabbalistic rabbi Salomon Halevi Alkabetz) or the Song of Songs (Shir hashirim).The Piyutim Shalom Alekhem and Eshet Hayil (Book of Proverbs 31:10–31) are sung at home before the Friday night Kiddush.In introduction to the evening prayer, the psalms 92 and 93 are sung. The poem Ya ribon, written by Israel Najara (1555-1628), is sung during the Friday evening meal.

MP3 - 2 Mb
Chalom alechem - Benjamin Hervé Houzy (Extrait)

MP3 - 2.3 Mb
Echet Hayil - Philippe Darmon (Extrait)

MP3 - 1.6 Mb
Ya ribon - Yehoram Gaon (Extrait)

The Saturday morning service (Sha’harit) is particularly long, as it includes, in addition to the usual prayers, more piyutim (El Adon, La-El barouch), the reading of the Torah and of the Haftarah, followed by the additional service of Musaf. The Min’ha service is sung in the evening before the third meal. Then comes Motsei shabbat, the evening prayer which closes the Shabbat rest.

MP3 - 2.1 Mb
El Adon - Gilles Dorai (Extrait)

During the meals which are marked by the abundance of food, it is a custom to sing religious poems called Zemirot (or Tish nigunim by the Chasidim), such as Deror Yikra, Ki eshmera shabbat (text by Abraham Ibn Ezra, one of the most prolific and brilliant authors and poets of the Spanish golden age of the 12th century) or Yedid nefesh traditionally sung in the evening, during the third meal (Seouda Shelishit). The end of Shabbat comes also with songs such as Hamavdil ben kodesh lekhol, Elyaou hanavi or Laner velivsamim performed in particular by Yemenite Jews.

MP3 - 1.8 Mb
Deror Yikra - Chansons de Shabbat (Extrait)

MP3 - 1.9 Mb
Ki eshmera shabbat - Ouriel Elbilia (Extrait)

MP3 - 2.2 Mb
Yedid nefesh - Duo Reim (Extrait)

MP3 - 1.8 Mb
Deror Yikra - Chansons de Shabbat (Extrait)

Let’s notice finally that the tunes, and even sometimes the lyrics of the religious poetry, change according to the origin of the worshippers. Thus the piyut Lekha dodi, which marks the beginning of Shabbat, is sung in all Jewish communities over hundreds of different melodies ! Music then becomes a real marker of identity, an element of cohesion or sometimes of dispute when the cantor or the rabbi changes the traditional melody of the community without informing the worshippers.

MP3 - 5.4 Mb
Lekha Dodi (pot-pourri airs sefarades) - Itsik Eshel

Shabbat song in the Western Ashkenazic rite
Shabbat song in the Moroccan rite
Shabbat song in the Algerian rite
Shabbat song in the Italian rites
Shabbat songs in the Tunisian rite
Shabbat songs in the East European rite
Shabbat songs in the Comtadine and Portuguese rites
The Chasidic Shabbat songs
Shabbat songs in the Ethiopian rite

Browse the catalog of our collections and listen to samples of Shabbat songs.

Listen to

In case the music player doesn't open, you must allow the opening of pop-ups for the website in your browser settings.

  • Chalom alechem - Benjamin Hervé Houzy (Extrait)

  • Echet Hayil - Philippe Darmon (Extrait)

  • Ya ribon - Yehoram Gaon (Extrait)

  • El Adon - Gilles Dorai (Extrait)

  • Deror Yikra - Chansons de Shabbat (Extrait)

  • Ki eshmera shabbat - Ouriel Elbilia (Extrait)

  • Yedid nefesh - Duo Reim (Extrait)

  • Laner Velivsamim (air yéménite) - Ofra Haza (Extrait)

  • Lekha Dodi (pot-pourri airs sefarades) - Itsik Eshel

Lire tout

You may also like

Release of eight new musical scores by Itaï Daniel at the EIJM publishing house

The EIJM publishing house releases eight new instrumental or vocal scores by Itaï Daniel, a composer inspired by Judaism and its (…)

Ani Maamin - Ben Zion Shenker

Discover the audio collections of the EIJM

Release of a new musical score by Serge Kaufmann: Katouna, for clarinette and cello

Release of the musical score Katouna by Serge Kaufman, at the EIJM’s editions

Training of Music Teachers of Paris - 2011

The CFMJ continues its educational action by organising another training day for music teachers in Paris. In the program : a large overview on (…)

The CFMJ at the Festival of Jewish Culture in Paris

Conferences, round table and concerts : find all the events co-organized by the CFMJ at the Festival of Jewish Culture in Paris, on June 29 and (…)