Music for the High Holy Days

Why don’t I recognize the Amidah we sing during the High Holy Days? Why is the Torah chanted differently then as well? Why do we hear some melodies only at this time of the year?

Music and worship are inextricably linked in Judaism. When we sing, we are praying – and when we pray, we are often singing. How are the tunes chosen? There is a system of melodies known as Nusach HaT’fillah thati nstructs us on how to sing specific prayers for different times of the day, the week and the year. A person who is used to observing three services a day and all the holidays, would be able to hear the difference between a weekday, Shabbat or holiday service not just by the liturgy, but also by how it is sung. He or she would also know if it is a morning, afternoon or evening service as well. These melodies also have regional variations – a Mizrahi service will sound very different from an Ashkenazi or Sephardic one. Often, the Minhag HaMakom (custom of the place) will dictate which music we hear at different times of the year.

This link to music of the High Holy Days will introduce some of the prayer settings we will be singing this year. My hope is that by becoming more familiar with these tunes, it will deepen your worship experience and encourage your participation throughout the season. Some of the tracks have narration explaining the call and response between the Cantor and the congregation.

Cantor Fran

mp3Hinei Ma Tov For HHD

mp3Shemah for HHD


mp3Ahavah Rabah; V’haeir Eineinu; Vahavieinu

mp3V’taheir Libeinu

mp3B’sefer chayim

mp3V’nomar l’fanav


mp3Lo Yisa Goi

mp3Oseh Shalom

mp3Eli, Eli

mp3Gesher Tzar M’od

mp3Esa Einai


mp3Chatsi Kaddish congregational responses for evening services

mp3Chatsi Kaddish congregational responses for morning services


mp3Niggun for Sh’mah Koleinu


mp3Shomeir Yisrael

mp3Ki Anu Amecha

mp3Adonai, Adonai

mp3V’al Kulam

mp3Avinu Malkeinu (folk)


mp3Return Again



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