Excerpts from Sacred Service conducted by Marc Lavry, 1959:
Joshua Zohar, Baritone
Kol Zion Lagola Choir (The Broadcasting Service Choir)
Kol Israel Symphony Orchestra (The Broadcasting Service Orchestra)
Choir: Mixed Choir
Lyrics: Hebrew Liturgy
Duration: 60 minutes
Publisher: The Marc Lavry Heritage Foundation
Sacred Service was commissioned by Cantor Reuben Rinder of Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco to set music to the synagogue’s Sabbath services.
The composition consists of two parts: the Friday evening (Sabbath Eve) and Saturday morning services, each one compiled of a number of prayers.
The rhythm of the words and tone of the passages were Lavry’s inspiration for the music. Many reviewers commented that even without listening to the words they could hear the prayers in the notes.
Lavry became so involved with the project that while writing the composition he remembered some of his father’s chants, which can be heard in Echad Hu Eloheinu (Our God is One).
When writing the Shema Yisrael (Hear, O Israel) prayer Lavry felt so much in awe that he chose an intimate and humble music where the cantor practically recites the words while the choir joins in a murmur.
The finale movement, the Halleluiah, brings the typical Lavry characteristics where both the choir and orchestra rejoice an ecstatic rhythmical dance.