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October 10, 2015 | 27th Tishrei 5776

Annotated Service Outlines

by Cantor Ellen Dreskin

Certain issues that are central to the employment of Mishkan T'filah are also central to the crafting of meaningful worship in general. The following service outlines strive to provide:

  • An appropriate balance between Hebrew and English
  • Varied use of instruments
  • Moments of active vocal participation as well as moments of contemplation and meditation
  • Sensitive attention to the myriad needs of the individual congregants
  • Moments of celebration, meditation, comfort and challenge
  • Smooth transitions between worship moments, and a treatment of the worship experience as a complete organism, as opposed to a string of individual prayers.

Things to Keep in Mind as You Look at these Outlines:

  1. These services may be too lengthy in their entirety for your particular congregation—the settings and progression are only suggestions as to how to meet the above-mentioned criteria. Please adapt, don't adopt.
  2. Keep the big picture in mind—if a musical setting is suggested as a participatory moment, and your congregation is not familiar with the melody (for example), then it isn't participatory for you. Choose a setting that is.
  3. Use instruments sparingly and in a variety of ways. Sometimes a single flute, reed instrument, or violin is the perfect backdrop for a particular prayer. It is wonderful if you have an entire band, but using all the instruments all the time can be counterproductive to the natural flow of the service.
  4. Add new melodies one at a time and continue to use a new melody consistently for four weeks or so. But three weeks in, you might consider beginning one other new melody.
  5. Explain, acknowledge, converse and communicate with your congregants. Trust is a huge factor here.

Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv
p. 130 Niggun (could be one that you will want to use again elsewhere in the service, i.e. Mi chamocha) to welcome, read English with music underneath, segue to

p. 131 Yis'm'chu Hashamayim (folk/congregational tune), segue to...

p. 132 Or Zarua (Nichols—congregational, but with 3 part niggun), segue to

p. 134 Zamru L'Adonai (unknown—Shabbat Anthology III) segue to

p. 135 Rom'mu (Taubman) segue to

p. 136 either beginning niggun (if it was upbeat) or Ki Va Mo-eid niggun (Carlebach—just the niggun, no words) underscoring English on p. 136 and ending with singing. Segue to

p. 138 Lecha Dodi (Rottenberg), verses 1, 2, 3, 5, 9

p. 140 mellow out with Tov L'hodot (either Carlebach or Chasen, depending upon if you'd like English here—Chasen is not in the prayer book. Tzaddik Katamar (Lewandowski) can also work very well here, if it is a congregational favorite. Objective is to quiet things down.

Invite the congregation to greet and bless each other—blessing each other can conclude with the blessing of the Angels of Shabbat by singing Shalom Aleichem on p. 142, or move directly to

p. 144 Chatzi Kaddish(chanted nusach)

p. 146 Barchu (minhag hamakom—the custom of your congregation)

p. 148 Ma’ariv Aravim, read in Hebrew or English, or chant Hebrew lines responsively while reader intersperses lines of English at top of page 149. Uses both nusach and English, illuminates meaning of the prayer.

p. 150 Ahavat Olam (Debbie Friedman/congregational or D. Maseng choral)

p. 152 Shema (minhag hamakom—the custom of your congregation)

p. 154 V'ahavta (minhag hamakom—the custom of your congregation)

Time for an iyun t’filah—-an elucidation of a prayer; a verbal expansion of the concept of g'ulah—redemption not found in the prayer book, if possible don’t read it rather just speak it

p. 158 Mi chamocha (melody depends entirely upon mood of preceding iyun t’filah which must be coordinated with service partner, or bring back niggun from beginning of service)

p. 160 Hashkiveinu (D. Friedman or C. Taubman) or
Option 1: nusach works, but for all of the above, be careful of the transition from a very upbeat congregational Mi chamocha to a more mellow or meditative or traditional Hashkiveinu.
Option II: Taubman Hashkiveinu then segue to "Guide My Steps" p.375, return to "Ha-Poreis Sukkat Shalom (Klepper)—all in the same key.

p. 162 V'shamru (Katchko acapella, segue to congregational melody)

p. 164 Introduction to the Amidah— Adonai S'fatai Tiftach

p. 166 Avot V’Imahot thru K'dushah (minhag hamakom)

p. 172 K'dushat hayom (Hebrew at bottom of page, chant nusach in background under the reading of the English on the bottom of p. 173, concluding with chatimah

Continue with individual prayer, either the texts in the prayer book or their own. Conclude this private prayer time with R'tzeh (Richards) p. 174

p. 284 Aleinu (minhag hamakom)

p. 287 Choose one of the English readings, then conclude with Bayom Hahu. If you are using the Isaacson Bayom Hahu, then instruments can certainly underscore whatever reading occurs.

p. 291-295 Choose an appropriate introduction to Kaddish. Use instruments to underscore.

p. 296 Mourners' Kaddish
Conclude Kaddish with V'imru Amen (Shur) or Oseh Shalom (Spanish/Portuguese) or just the first two lines of the Hirsch Oseh Shalom to provide a buffer before announcements/closing song/kiddush/whatever comes next.

Conclude as is your congregational custom with song, blessing, etc.

Shabbat Morning

(The first few melodies are meant to create a communal feeling, and may be considered more on the informal side. Many congregations are happy to listen later on, if you begin with melodies that are more on the participatory side)

p. 192 Mah Tovu (D. Maseng) This arrangement is majestic/soaring in nature, is published for choir, yet has a chorus that the entire congregation can sing. Eventually, if they like, they will catch on to the verses as well.
Segue to: (room for possible iyun t’filah on the upcoming combination of prayers, with music underneath, as both Mah Tovu and Elohai can be played in the same key)

pp. 194-96 Asher Yatzar and Elohai (Debbie Friedman)
Many people do not know there is a beautiful duet which contains the text to both of these prayers, bringing together gratitude for both body and soul. This is wonderful for a volunteer choir, or for one clergy member to lead the congregation in "Elohai" (the more well-known of the two) while the Cantor sings "Asher Yatzar."

p. 198 Nissim B'chol Yom (nusach)
These blessings might be chanted in Hebrew or English—I have also heard Rabbi Elyse Frishman chant the key words in the right margins (where we might normally insert "amen") in between the blessings in order to illuminate the upcoming Hebrew.

p. 204 La-asok b'divrei Torah (nusach)
The nissim b'chol yom segue right into this final blessing. In congregations where there is Torah study, one might insert it here, or do a short d'var on one aspect of the siddur or parashah, and allow congregants to discuss among themselves.

p. 218 Psalm 150 (Yemenite, antiphonal, something participatory) include in final chord, "we continue on p. 224." (Sing it!)

p. 224 Chatzi Kaddish (nusach)

p. 226 Bar'chu as is the congregation's custom

p. 228 Yotzer Or
Read in Hebrew or the first paragraph in English. Slow down the communal reading in preparation for Or Chadash (use a congregational melody, end with chatimah)

p. 230 Ahavah Rabbah
Read in English—perhaps use top of 230 first paragraph, then segue into V'ha-eir eineinu if the congregation knows it. Cantor should pick up where congregational singing ends (biy'shu- atecha) and continue thru chatimah. (Look out for addition of V'ahvi-einu l'shalom....!)

p. 232 Shema and V'ahavta as is minhag hamakom

Insertion of iyyun tefilah here—illuminating second paragraph of V'ahavta, the concept of g'ulah, OR reading English p. 237 or 239....

p. 240 Mi Chamocha (Lipson)

p. 242 Intro to the Amidah
Begin "traditional" Adonai S'fatai Tiftach—after two or so repetitions, continue instrumental while reading "O God, You are as near as the very air we breathe..." on p. 243—repeat singing of kavanah once again at end of reading. Or begin with just one instrument playing the kavanah with reading underneath and sing after.

p. 244-248 Avot thru K'dushah as is minhag hamakom—for K’dushah
(Nusach or Bonia Shur)

p. 250 Yis'm'chu (D Maseng)
Again, this piece has a chorus that is congregational, yet is published chorally. The verses are solo in nature, interesting/upbeat, fun for the Cantor.

The piece above is extremely energetic, as are many settings to Yis'm'chu (for good reason!). Whatever comes next must be read in a similarly energetic/celebratory manner in order not to be jarring and provide a smooth transition to the rest of the Amidah.

p. 252 In English—chant chatimah in keeping with Yis'm'chu melody.

p. 255 Read English at bottom—chant chatimah

p. 257 Read English at bottom—chant chatimah
Alternatively, underscoring the reading on page 257 with Finkelstein's "V'al Kulam" for several weeks in a row is beautiful, and subliminally preps the congregation for hearing this as a vocal duet or choral piece eventually. Using instruments to introduce melodies first, even over the course of a month or so, is a great tool.

If you sing Sim Shalom after this, you must choose a setting that doesn't destroy the mood set by Modim. I recommend going directly to Silent Meditation after p. 257.

p. 260 Elohai N'tzor (Maseng if you have a choir)
May the Words (Schiller)
Either can segue into a congregational melody/Oseh Shalom if you like, but I prefer to keep it a meditational moment altogether.

Service for the Reading of the Torah:
p. 263 English at the bottom (familiar from Gates of Prayer)

p. 264 Ki Mitzion

p. 266 Baruch Sh'natan thru bottom of page

Page 267 provides options for a longer Hakafah.

(personal preference—a VERY brief mi shebeirach after each aliyah—shows folks that it's not just for healing—one sentence, maybe even begin in Hebrew and then switch to English so that people understand what you are doing)

p. 270 V'zot HaTorah (Portnoy)
I like this melody both because it continues into a niggun while the Torah is being dressed, and because if you proceed directly to returning the Torah to the Ark, it is an easy segue to
p. 274 Eitz Chayyim Hi/Hashiveinu (Lefkowitz)

If you are looking for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah musical blessing from MT, Benjie Schiller has a lovely setting to the Talmud passage at the top of p. 281.

p. 284 Aleinu

p. 287 read English, concluding with Bayom Hahu.
If you are using the Isaacson Bayom Hahu, then instruments can certainly underscore whatever reading occurs.

p. 291-295 Choose an appropriate introduction to Kaddish. Use instruments to underscore.

p. 296 Mourners' Kaddish (no instruments under, in case you were wondering)
Conclude with V'imru Amen (Shur) or Oseh Shalom (Spanish/Portuguese) or just the first two lines of the Hirsch Oseh Shalom to provide buffer before announcements/closing song/kiddush/whatever comes next.


Weekday Shacharit (a 30-45 minute example)
This outline is a bit simpler. I have assumed less accompaniment, no choir, a smaller congregation or minyan. For a more elaborate outline, please see Shabbat Morning.

p. 30 Mah Tovu (round)
If the congregation will hold on to the basic melody and "chorus" words, it is lovely for the Cantor to lay the "verses" on top of that in an improvisatory fashion.

p. 33 Read English, top or bottom, with Elohai N’shamah music in background

p. 34 Elohai N’shamah (Debbie Friedman)
Sing once thru, then continue instrumental under reading of p. 35 bottom, and conclude by singing the chatimah in the same Elohai N’shamah melody.

p. 36 Nissim b'chol yom—if in a small group, go around and ask each person to lead one (Hebrew or English). The congregation can respond with "amen" to each blessing.

p. 52 Ashrei (nusach)

p. 58 Barchu (weekday nusach)

p. 60 Yotzer (Laura Berkson)
Begin melody, read any of the English selections, end again with melody

p. 62 Ahavah Raba—read in Hebrew or English

p. 62 V'ha-eir Eineinu
V'havieinu thru chatimah (nusach)

p. 64 Sh’ma (minhag hamakom)

p. 66 V'ahavta

Iyun t'filah
on G'ulah—Redemption

p. 72 Mi chamocha (weekday nusach)

p. 74 Preparation for Amidah (see Shabbat morning)
Avot, G'vurot, K'dushah

p. 83-95 Read odd numbered pages aloud, person by person as above (suggested either here or nissim b'chol yom—probably not both)

p. 98 Sim Shalom (Chassidic)

Silent Meditation

p. 100 Yih'yu L'ratzon (Weinberg, acapella)

and Mourners' Kaddish (see Shabbat morning)

Cantor Dreskin has served as the Director of Programs for Synagogue 3000 and as both, the cantor and educator, at Woodlands Community Temple, White Plains, NY and Fairmount Temple, Cleveland, OH.

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