Shahar Avakeshkha

Sfarad-Turkey, based on a ladino tune

About the Piyut

This piyut belongs to the Reshut genre (see Leshoni Konanta) and was written by R. Shlomo Ibn Gabirol, the 11th century poet and philosopher.

It describes the feelings of the poet during the early hours of dawn. The emergence from the uncertainties of night and expectation to the light and warmth of sunshine converge at the moment of dawn and therefore create a perfect atmosphere for prayer and meditation. It is not surprising that the time set for singing piyutim in both the Aleppo and Morocco tradition is early morning, and that both of them include this piyut. Although the piyut seems at first glance to be just a rephrasing of the common theme of asking permission to pray, delving into it will reveal that it deals with a very powerful religious experience.

The poet describes his longing and quest for God’s closeness, a closeness that fills him with such emotions that cannot be expressed by words. Only poetry, which includes music and involves the whole body, can bring to light all the aspects of soul and spirit connecting to the Zimrat Enosh, the totality of mankind.

Shahar Avakeshkha can be found on the recordings of Piyutim North America. The author is Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol.

Lyrics

Transliteration:

Shachar avakeshcha tzuri u’misgabi / e’eroch Lefanecha shachri vegam arbi
Lifnei gedulatcha e’emod ve’ebahel / ki eincha tir’eh kol machshevot libi
Ma zeh asher yuchal halev vehalashon / la’asot u’ma koach ruchi betoch kirbi
Hineh lecha titav zimrat enosh al ken / odcha beod tihyeh nishmat Eloha bi

Translation:

At dawn I seek You, my rock and my fortress
my morning and evening prayers I lay before You
Before Your greatness I stand in fright
for Your eyes can see into the thoughts of my heart
What is this that the heart and tongue can
bring about, and what is the strength of my spirit within me?
Behold the singing of man will be pleasant to You, therefore
I thank You while the soul of God is within me

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