Usher in the new Millennium with Danny Maseng and friends. The most beautiful inspirational songs and music from two thousand years of Jewish and world traditions. Songs of peace, joy and harmony.
Soul On Fire, a new theatrical concert of other-worldly and magical quality, is a journey of aesthetic and spiritual beauty; an exciting blend of uplifting, meditative, ecstatic, and soul stirring songs.
Listen Cast Guide Narrative
Ma Tovu The prayer Ma Tovu - "How good are your tents, oh Jacob..." opens the morning prayers at a synagogue. The biblical passage was first uttered by Bilam, a sorcerer who was hired by the Moabite king Balak to curse the children of Israel, who were nearing his territory on their journey to the promised land. Bilam changed his curse to this blessing after a change of heart brought upon by his more enlightened donkey, who thrice saw an angel of God on their way and finally rebuked Bilam, thus becoming one of only two animals ever to speak in the bible.
Yashkeff This haunting chant is an ancient liturgical folk song from Yemen, where Jews had been living since the destruction of the first Temple. Relatively isolated in this magnificent mountainous country for two Thousand years, Yemenite Jews have preserved their culture and customs throughout the millennia and speak what is believed to be as close to Biblical Hebrew as is humanly possible.
Hodu Psalm 136, from which the lyrics are taken, is chanted as part of the Hallel - the glorification portion of the festival services. It lists the many reasons for giving thanks for God's never-ending grace.
Return Again/Hashiveinu I was first introduced to this beautifully simple song, written by the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, by my friend Eli Kranzler, who said about this song: "This is truth, distilled". I married the song to the "Hashiveinu" - return us to you - because they are both songs of sweet repentance, of gentle return, of coming home.
Lo Tevoshi This authentic Hassidic melody for the last part of the L'cha Dodi hymn, sung on Friday evenings to welcome the Sabbath Queen/Bride, comes from the Modzitz Hassidim who are famed for their beautiful melodies, many of them written (as was this one ) by their spiritual leaders, their Rebbes.
Dante's Prayer When I first heard Irish music as a child, I wept. I knew I had heard it somewhere before, though my parents assured me I was of Lithuanian/Jewish/Norwegian/Danish descent, which was complicated enough, and there was no way I could have heard Irish music before. I knew better. When I heard Loreena McKennit sing her amazing Celtic soul music I was a child once more. Verdi insisted on appearing during the intervals and I had to let him in. The Hostias, from his glorious Requiem simply belongs in the heart of this song.
Elohai, N'tzor The Elohai is the closing meditation of the 19 part Amida - the standing prayer. I had always felt this prayer was rushed by on the way to the end of the Amida, which begins with asking God to "open my lips so my mouth may declare God's glory." This closing, asking for God to "Guard my tongue from evil and my mouth from speaking falsehoods", puts in question who is praying to whom?
Barchi, Nafshi Joe Vass, the founder of the Minnesota Klezmer Band, wrote this beautiful melody, inspired by the opening words for the blessing for donning the prayer shawl, "Bless God, oh, my soul". I placed it, as a contemplation, before my own composition " Oh Lord My God", which is the continuation of the very same prayer, taken from Psalm 104.
The Heart Of The World This song is based on a story by Reb Nachman of Bresslov, the great Hassidic Rebbe, who died at the age of 38, leaving an indelible mark on Judaism that is only now coming into focus. The Heart Of The World is part of his greatest story, The Seven Beggars. The Japanese chant is from the Heart Sutra, the core teaching chanted by adherents of the Soto Zen school of Buddhism. This profound chant is part of the Wisdom - Prajna - Sutra, and speaks of the awakening experience of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A Bodhisattva is one who forgoes their own final enlightenment in order to help all suffering beings in this world. The song is dedicated to Sister Magdalit, of the order of the Beatitudes, in Bethlehem, who is a living Bodhisattva walking among us right now.
Raza D'Shabbat This is my favorite prayer for the Sabbath. It comes from the Zohar, the Book Of Splendor, the main tome of Kabbalistic teaching, and is the very last prayer before the Barchu - the Benediction of God's Glory. It speaks of oneness, of the rule of ultimate good, of transparent souls worn as crowns, of unity in love. The Aramaic, in which it was written, only adds to the mystique of this prayer.
Haben Yakeer/D'ror Yeekrah Haben Yakeer Li is an old cantorial favorite from the Malavski family, who were very popular in the 50's. The song speaks of Ephrayeem, Jacob's favorite grandson, his child of delight. This D'ror Yeekrah is an old Sephardic rendition from Israel and is one of the most popular Zmirot - songs - which are sung throughout the Sabbath.
Hallelu This song has become wildly popular thanks to Congregation Bnai Jeshurun, in New York. It's based on a Suffi chant - Allahu - by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, arguably the greatest Suffi musician of our time. By simply putting the music to the words of Psalm 150 and tweaking the melody a bit, the song has become part of services throughout North America. I couldn't resist adding Let Every Soul Glorify God in the middle, a hymn that has found its way into the Reform Jewish liturgy. I threw in the Israeli Hallelu version for good measure, thus spanning at least three major religions, coexisting within one medley.
Listen Cast Guide Narrative
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