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Origins: Hava Nashira

06 Jun 18 - 07:19 PM (#3929542)
Subject: Origins: Hava Nashira
From: Joe Offer

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?


06 Jun 18 - 08:13 PM (#3929551)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hava Nashira
From: GUEST,Gerry

The annual Hava Nashira Songleading Workshop just ended a couple of days ago. Maybe someone connected with the event can help you.

06 Jun 18 - 09:32 PM (#3929564)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hava Nashira
From: Joe Offer

Thanks, Gerry. I should have thought of that.
I wrote to them just now. That workshop is held at a camp on Lac la Belle in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin - I led 4 or 5 canoe trips a year starting on that lake, for five summers in the 1960s.

07 Jun 18 - 11:11 AM (#3929618)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hava Nashira
From: Jack Campin

A lot of Hebrew songs come from Christian or Islamic musical traditions. This one is a real doozy:

It isn't often you have a problem tracing a song because somebody involved in the process of transmission has a religious prohibition against mentioning its name.