Emek (Shir Ha-Emek), Song, Op. 40 (1935)

Note: This version of Emek is that of the popular song. There is also Emek, Symphonic Poem, Opus 45 based on this song.

A historic recording from September 4, 1958:
Marc Lavry, Conductor
Kol Zion Lagola Choir (The Broadcasting Service Choir)

Variations: Three arrangements are available for the composition:

  • Voice and Orchestra
  • Voice and Piano
  • A Cappella Choir

Lyrics: Rafael Eliaz

Duration: 3:50 minutes

Additional details: email music@marclavry.org

Shir Ha-Emek is the first song Marc Lavry composed in Israel to the lyrics of Rafael Eliaz. The poem that describes the landscape of the Emek (Jezreel Valley), the pioneers plowing the fields by day and dancing the Hora by night, inspired Lavry to write the song. Within days the song was sung all over Israel.

Fun fact:

First version of Shir Ha-Emek

First version of Shir Ha-Emek

Lavry, who had not yet seen the Jezreel Valley, decided to take a bus trip to see the sights. As was customary at that time, bus riders joined in a loud sing-along. To Lavry’s delight they sang his new song, but to his dismay, the end of the first phrase was sung wrong.
The same thing happened on the way back with another group of people. This time Lavry approached the sing-along leader and pointed out the mistake. The leader gave Lavry a not-so-gentle pat on the back and said: “comm’on, the composer is a friend of mine and I know the right tune.”

Second version of Shir Ha-Emek

Second version of Shir Ha-Emek

Being a newcomer to Israel, Lavry realized that his version was not the natural melodic progression to the Israeli ear. He decided to not reveal his true identify to the sing-along leader and just change his score.

(transliterated from Hebrew to English)

Plada kchula hem hashamayim,
Kivshan adom hu levavi.
Tisa nafshi chedvat ena’yim
Keset gufi et mach’ovi.

          Hayad Choreshet,
          Hadam Go’esh,
          Tziv’ei hakeshet alu ba’esh.

          Or, or, or, or –
          Kol ha’emek hu shikor;
          Mitnashek im hatavor.

          Hayad Choreset,
          Halev yiktzor,
          Magal hakeshet
          Mi ya’atzor.

Shzufat yagon ka’adama at,
Ach al pana’yich or yahel,
Or hatochelet hadoma’at
El hasufa shetishtolel.

          Hayad Choreshet…

Ki basufa na’ufa shneinu
Kishtei ruchot zo neged zo,
Vecho dvukot kizro’oteinu
Od shum zro’ot lo ne’echzu.

          Hayad Choreshet…

2 Responses to Emek (Shir Ha-Emek), Song, Op. 40 (1935)
  1. Sophia Chatov
    September 3, 2014 | 10:05 am

    Enjoyed listening to this official version!
    I always heard the second ending when it was sung by “the man in the street”…

  2. Lewis Glinert
    September 8, 2018 | 6:52 pm

    Hidden away in the transcription of the third stanza is another, fascinating case of vox populi:
    The transcription uses the grammatically ‘approved’ form ‘zo neged zo’ — but the choir, following the popular norm (and the rhyme scheme!) sings ‘zu neged zu’.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?