The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #164278   Message #3929542
Posted By: Joe Offer
06-Jun-18 - 07:19 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Hava Nashira
Subject: Origins: Hava Nashira
I've known the Hebrew round "Hava Nashira" for a long time, and I don't know where I learned it. It's in the Rise Up Singing Songbook that I've used since it was published in 1988, so maybe I learned it from there.
But where does the song come from?

The lyrics are simple:

Hava nashira, shir’ haleluiah (three times)   

One translation
Let us sing together, sing Halleluyah!

Here's a recording by the Georgia Children's Chorus:

So, I figured this song must be traditional Hebrew, and that's that. But I can't find it in my Jewish songbooks, although it's in a number of Rounds books.

The song is popular as a choral piece, and there is a choral arrangement available from GIA (Gregorian Institute of America). GIA says the arrangement is by Neil Ginsberg, and the composer is Johannes Ockeghem. J.W. Pepper has a choral arrangement by Patrick Liebergen, composed by Johannes Ockeghem. But Johannes Ockeghem was a 15th-century composer who wrote Masses and antiphons and other Christian stuff.

Now, this page (click) claims the melody was written by Ockeghem, and used after his death to sing the praises of Benedictine liqueur. The lyrics were simply, "Benediktiner Munklikör." The page says the melody was resurrected by Jews in the 19th century and used with the "Hava Nashira" lyrics.

But is this what happened, or is it all "fakelore"? Can anybody come up with credible source information on this song?