Kirchen, Elkhanan
Yiddish Baroque Music by Rabbi Elkhanan Kirchen
Di Tsaytmashin
nr katalogowy
The Book of the Rejoicing Soul is an Ashkenazi songbook, credited to Rabbi Elkhanan Kirchen and published in Bavaria towards the beginning of the 18th century. It contains songs of morality for the Jewish home.
The songs describe in witty rhymes the diversity of customs for the Jewish holidays, the refined moods resultant of following the Jewish tradition, and the joy of believing in God. Thus there are songs to celebrate the Sabbath, to accompany daily and weekly rituals of preparation and purification; to celebrate times of mourning and fasting but also days of celebration, for drinking and marriage. There is even a song which doubles as a recipe for Passover bread, describing in detail how the matzo flour must not be exposed to excess humidity. The language of the songs is an antique version of Yiddish. The scoring is economical, but strongly hints at a unique musical pastiche, spanning pure Baroque counteproint to typically spicy Jewish and European folk tunes.
Rabbi Kirchen probably came up with the songs and melodies, and the publication itself was the work of another, more musically sophisticated mind, but one unfamiliar with the nuances of Jewish culture.
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