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Na'ar Hayiti

Na'ar Hayiti ("I was young and am now old") is the last section of Birkat Hamazon (Grace after meals), which the S&P sing as a table hymn. Since it is sung at home, among family and friends, it is a great opportunity for letting one's hair down and enjoying oneself. Here are a few S&P tunes used for Naar Hayiti. You'll find the transliterated text further down the page. 

Note: Outside London (Manchester, New York, Amsterdam), I believe the singing commonly starts with line three, "Ma sheakhalnu" and ends on line ten, Hodu (doubling it up when possible), making it an eight line song which they tend to call it "Ma Sheakhalnu" rather than "Na'ar Hayiti".
 
This is the most widely known and used tune for Naar Hayiti. We sing this tune after the Shabbat evening meal. Harmonically it is very closely related to a well-known secular tune.
 
Naar Hayiti (joyous)
This exuberant S&P tune, used for En Kelohenu and Kaddish on festive occasions, lends itself well to Naar Hayiti. In my home we usually sing it after the Shabbat morning meal.
Note: Since the tune takes two lines to complete, it requires an even number of lines. Hence the tenth line (Hodu) is not repeated, since that would result in an odd number.
 
La Despedida ("the departure") is a plaintive S&P melody sung in the synagogue on the last days of Pesah and Succot, expressing our sadness at the imminent departure of the festival. In my home we sing Na'a Hayiti to this tune after the third Shabbat meal, to reflect a similar emotion about the imminent departure of the Sabbath.
 
One of the most lovely S&P tunes is that sung on the 1st day of Pesah in the Prayer for Dew ("Lech leshalom geshem - go in peace, rain!"). The similarity with the opening of Hatikva has been noted, though the S&P tune certainly predates Hatikva. In my home we sing this tune for Naar Hayiti during the month following the seventh day of Passover, when it also serves as a reminder to say "morid hatal" in the Amidah.
 
This is a speeded-up version of one of the S&P tunes for Yigdal, used occasionally on the intermediate Shabbat of a festival. It's a perfect example of the adaption of a synagogue tune for home use. I believe it was Rabbi Abraham Levy, of the London S&P, who adapted it. It's lively and fun, and we use it when we're feeling exuberant.
 
Naar Hayiti (Yigdal for festivals) { s,.-:d.r | m.r:d.- }
This is one of the more popular of the many S&P tunes for Yigdal, sung at the conclusion of the morning service for festivals. I believe it was Sir Alan Mocatta, distinguished judge, lay leader of the S&P community, and initiator of a number of musical adaptions in the London S&P synagogue service, who initiated this adaption for home use. The tune has the form AAB, taking three lines to complete (and is therefore sung through four times in the 12 lines of Naar Hayiti). This means that it splits the lines up differently to most of the other tunes on this page (groups of three instead of two), which makes it just a little challenging for some! It probably depends on whether you're right or left brained.
 
This is one of the main S&P High Holiday themes, so of course we use it on Rosh Hashannah. Note the modulation, present in a number of S&P High Holiday melodies, hinting at the hope for change, both in ourselves and our fortunes, in the coming year. Although this tune can theoretically go on forever, we sing the closing phrase at the end of lines 4, 8 and 12, to break the monotony.
 
Not strictly speaking an S&P tune at all, this is from a rousing Ashkenazi High Holy Day hymn, "Imru Lelohim". It fits Naar Hayiti well, the whole tune being sung just twice. We sing it at some of the New Year meals.
 
Borrowed I believe from the Gibraltar version of the wedding ceremony, this would be suitable for use at Sheva Berachot.
 

The Text
The twelve lines of Naar Hayiti lend themselves to singing 2, 3, 4, 6 or 12 times through a tune, depending on its structure. Here are the words:
 
01|     Na'ar hayiti gam zakanti | velo raiti tzadik ne'ezav
02|       Ve zaro mevakesh lachem | kol hayom honen umalveh vezaro livracha
03|     Ma she'achalnu yihyeh lisova | umah sheshatinu yihyeh lirfuah
04|       Umah shehotarnu yihyeh livracha | kedichtiv vayiten lifnehem
05|     Vayochelu vayotiru | ki-i devar Adonai
06|       Beruchim atem la-dona-i | o-se shamayim va-aretz
07|     Baruch hagever asher yivtach badonai | vehaya Adona-i mivtacho
08|       Adonai oz leamo yiten | Adonai yevarech et amo bashalom
09|     Ki hisbiya nefesh shokeka | venefesh re-eva-ah mileh tov
10|       Ho-du ladonai ki to-v | ki-i leolam hasdo * (This line is repeated if the tune allows it, see note.)
11|     Oseh shalom bimromav | hu berachamav ya'aseh shalom alenu
12|       Ve-al kol amo Yisrael | ve-imru Amen. **
 
* Note 1: In the case of tunes (such as the traditional tune) that are completed in a single line of the text and then begun again for the next line, the tenth line - "Hodu" - is sung twice. In the case of other tunes this is not practical, as it results in an odd (and prime) number of lines.
 
** Note 2: The S&P version of Grace does not traditionally include the last two lines ("Oshe shalom" - shown here in green text), ending simply with line 10 ("Hodu"). However, "Oseh shalom" is now frequently added, probably because increasing the total number of lines to 12 renders the words adaptable to many more tunes.


Last update 5 Nov 2013
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