Min HaMetzar/Ana Adonay Hoshia Na

Min HaMetzar | Tripoli-Sfarad-Yerushalaim

Ana Adonay Hoshia Na | Sfarad-Yerushalaim

About the Mizmor

These verses are sung in the Hallel, a prayer of praise and thanksgiving recited on Holidays and on the first day of the month. The Hallel comprises psalms 114-118, and is also referred to as The Egyptian Halle because its opening verses relate the story of the Exodus.

The Hallel starts with thanksgiving for the redemption from Egypt and continues to praise God and Monotheism as opposed to paganism. It bestows blessings on different groups and stresses the joy of living and singing. It then shifts to a more serene mood, telling the difficulties and the hardships of the individual but again rises in a poetic crescendo to praise God who has delivered the individual from all his hardships and who is the only one whom the poet can rely on. The last part of the Hallel, where the verses of this Piyut appear, is psalm 118 which is meant to be recited as a psalmody, the leader reading one half of the verse and the chorus or the congregation responds. It is still sung in this manner in some congregations whereas in others verses 21-29 are repeated, once by the leader and once by the congregation. This style lends itself to music and indeed there are many different tunes for these verses.

Min HaMetzar (Psalms 118, 5-9):

The structure of these verses parallels their reading in psalmody since each one of them oscillates between the negative and the positive, darkness and light, distress and relief. The poet describes his difficult moments but stresses that in the face of danger, despair and betrayal, he always had one solid factor, his faith.

The first verse of this section inspired many Hassidic interpretations. According to R. Chayim of Tczernovicz it is an allusion to the Shofar which produces a powerful voice through a narrow mouthpiece. Similarly the prayers of Rosh HaShana draw their power form the congregation of people in a narrow place, where they unite their voices and hearts in prayer to produce a powerful call to the Divine.

R. Yehuda Leib Alter of Gur explains, following the Ball Shem Tov, that one should explore his fears and call out to God from the deepest, narrowest crevices of his soul because that is exactly where the redemption can come from. In other words we are most vulnerable where we are sensitive and if we use our emotions and spiritual strength correctly we can overcome all hardships.

Others still expand on that idea to say that the translation should be this: I called out to God from the narrow place, but he answered me “you are already in the open”, meaning that the act of crying out, identifying the problem and expressing the will to overcome it is in itself part of the redemption.In the next verses (10-12) there is an echo to David’s personal tribulations and his wars against neighboring nations but simultaneously it conveys the feeling of steadfast faith in the face of intensifying danger. The second leg of each verse is exactly the same to symbolize the unwavering trust while the first leg speaks of an ever growing danger, they beset me, they beset me and surround me, they beset me like bees. But the threat intensifies to not only be completely extinguished but to be proven ephemera, like thorns consumed by fire, a common metaphor in the bible to a thing of no inner value.

In the following verses (13-20) the poet speaks of the times when he felt that God has abandoned or even persecuted him and how he came later to realize that God is his helper. The license to argue with God, complain and even accuse Him is one of the compelling aspect of Psalms, and can also be found in psalms 6;10;13;22 and elsewhere. Interjected into the poet’s pleas and complaints are descriptions of triumph and joy. These show the source of strength and faith for the poet in difficult times as he visualizes the great joy and jubilation at the time of his redemption.

The theme in the next verses (21-22) is the personal redemption. First is the praise for the Divine response: I will extol You for You have answered me and became my redemption. Then there is an allegory where the poet compares his youth, being rejected and ostracized to a stone deemed unfit for construction only to be found later on worthy to become the cornerstone, just as the poet rose to glory. The theme of early rejection and later vindication is common in psalms as a part of King David’s life story and is especially evident in psalm 69.

25. O Lord, deliver us! O Lord, let us prosper!

Unlike the previous verses which are repeated by the congregants upon their completion by the leader or the conductor, each half of this verse is repeated separately. This could be explained as stemming from its special structure or due to the exclamatory nature of it as it professes faith in and complete reliance on God.

Min HaMetzar and Ana Adonay Hoshia Na can be found on the recordings of Piyutim North America. The text is from Psalm 118.

Lyrics

Transliteration:

Min hametzar karati Yah anani bamerchav Yah / Adonay li lo ira ma ya’aseh li adam
Adonay li be’ozrai va’ani er’eh besonai / Tov lachasot baAdonay mibetoach ba’adam
Tov lachasot baAdonay mibetoach bindivim / Kol goyim sevavuni beshem Adonay ki amilam
Sabuni gam sevavuni beshem Adonay ki amilam
Sabuni kidvorim do’achu ke’esh kotzim / beshem Adonay ki amilam
Dacho dechitani linpol va’Adonay azarani / Ozi vezimrat Yah vayehi li lishua
Kol rina vishua be’ohalei tzadikim yemin / Adonay osah chayil
Yemin Adonay romemah yemin Adonay osah chayil / Lo amut ki echyeh va’asaper ma’asei Yah
Yasor yisrani Yah velamavet lo netanani
Pitchu li sha’arei tzedek avo bam odeh Yah / Zeh hasha’ar laAdonay tzadikim yavo’u bo
Odecha ki anitani vatehi li lishua / Even ma’asu habonim hayeta lerosh pina
Me’et Adonay hayta zot he niflat be’enenu / Ze hayom asa Adonay nagila venismecva bo

Ana Adonay hoshia na, Ana Adonay hatzlicha na

Translation:

Translation from the JPS Tanakh

Psalms 118

5. In distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and brought me relief
6. The Lord is on my side I have no fear; what can man do to me?
7. With the Lord on my side as my helper, I will see the downfall of my foes
8. It is better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in mortals
9. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in the great [human benefactors]
10. All nations have beset me; by the name of the Lord I will surely cut them down
11. They beset me, the surround me; by the name of the Lord I will surely cut them down
12. They have beset me like bees; they shall be extinguished like burning thorns;
by the name of the Lord I will surely cut them down
13. You pressed me hard, I nearly fell; but the Lord helped me
14. The Lord is my strength and might; He has become my deliverance
15. The tents of the righteous resound with joyous shouts of deliverance,
the right hand of the Lord is triumphant!
16. The right hand of the Lord is exalted! the right hand of the Lord is triumphant!
17. I shall not die but live and proclaim the works of the Lord
18. The lord has punished me severely, but did not hand me over to death
19. Open the gates of victory for me that I may enter then and praise the Lord
20. This is the gateway to the Lord, the righteous shall enter through it
21. I praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my deliverance
22. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone
23. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our sight
24. This is the day that the Lord has made – let us exult and rejoice in it

25. O Lord, deliver us! O Lord, let us prosper!

Singers

Musicians

Production

  • Musical Direction and Arrangements: Yair Harel and Omer Avital
  • Production: Ari Priven, Yair Harel and Omer Avital
  • Mixing and editing: Daniel Freedman
  • Mastered by: Randy Merrill at Masterdisk
  • Recorded at B’nai Jeshurun, New York City, July 2010