Service of Thanksgiving for the 300th Anniversary of the Resettlement of the Jews in Britain
The recordings on this page were made at a weekday afternoon (Minha) service held in 1956 celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the Kahal and of Anglo Jewry. The recording is unusual and valuable in that it includes many items usually sung in the synagogue only on Shabbat - and therefore rarely recorded live by a congregation (rather than by a choir alone).
On the left is the invitation to the event. Viscount Herbert Samuel, whose name heads the invitation, had recently completed eleven years as head of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords, having previously been High Commissioner of Palestine, and the first nominally practicing Jew to serve as a Cabinet minister and to become the leader of a major British political party.
The logo used is interesting. It is an adaption of the seal of the congregation, very much in contemporary style. The "tent" of the community from the congregational seal is topped with a Star of David and flanked by stylized Tudor roses, symbolizing the Jewish community's "standing" on British soil.
I have called the first item "Processional" as I imagine the more important dignitaries filing in to the already full synagogue as it was sung. (No, I wasn't actually there to see for myself, nor even born yet!)
The actual Minha service begins here with Lamenatseah and the sections dealing with the afternoon sacrifice.
♫ Lamnatseah and korbanot [Dutch inflection detected? May be Revd. Ducque]
The following version of "Ashrey", with the reader's chanting and the congregational responses, is a beautiful example of the S&P rendition of this well-loved psalm, traditionally recited three times each day. This tune is used on Shabbat just before Musaph, and again at the start of Minha.
♫ Ashrey [EA]
♫ Kadish and Kedusha [EA]
In the Amidah, the S&P shortened version was employed, which is slightly different to the method used in other Sephardi, and Ashkenazi, communities. The first three blessings are said aloud, including Kedusha. The Amidah is then completed silently by everybody. However, the hazzan waits for the Kahal to finish (in principle, at least), before completing the last of the middle blessings and the last three blessings out loud.
The S&P chant for weekday Minha is similar to that of Shabbat but also distinctly different. Musicians note that while very similar, on Shabbat the theme hovers around the fifth while on weekday Minha it hovers around the third. Hat tip to Eliot Alderman for pinning it down nicely with this observation.
♫ Amidah [EA]
♫ Kadish Titkabal [EA]
Although this was a weekday afternoon service, when the Torah is not read, it would seem they opened the ark, took the sefer to the tebah for the blessings and hashkaba, and then returned it without reading from it. This is the tune used for the opening of the ark on all Sabbaths and festivals.
♫ Kohanecha [Revd. Joseph Graziani, Hazan at Bevis Marks]
This is sung on all Sabbaths and festivals as the sefer is taken from the hechal to the tebah.
♫ Prayer for the Royal Family [Hacham Dr. Solomon Gaon]
This is one of several tunes used on different occasions for this part of the service.
An excellent Sermon by the late lamented Haham, Dr. Solomon Gaon.
An unusual feature of this service is the chanting of Kaddish by the choir and entire congregation. This is also done on the new Year and Kippur. It is unheard of in any other community, where Kaddish is usually seen as a prayer for mourners. This custom shows a quite different approach to Kaddish.
In 1956 no celebration of this kind would be complete without the singing of the National Anthem!
I have created a CD with all the above recordings, except (for reasons of space) the English thanksgiving and Haham Gaon's sermon.