Monday, December 29, 2008

The Yekkishe Shir Hamaalos

German Jews have a very beautiful melody for Shir Hamaalos Ashrei Kol Ye’rei Hashem, (Tehillim 128) which they sing every Mowtsei Shabbose (sic) and at weddings. To get a Yekke’s attention, just hum a bar from this song and it will stop him in his tracks.

Here are four renditions.

(By the way, if you have a Yekke listen to one of these with you, he or she will inevitably comment "Not exactly....)

This clip is by Cantor Malovany.This and other recordings are available for purchase.

(This one is by Cantor Lawrence Eliezer Kepecs. Double-click on the second song on the list.)

(This one is by the KAJ Choir. It is done without accompaniment, by non-professionals, but it will bring a tear to your eye anyway.
It is also on TorahMedia, which requires that you sign up for a free listening membership.)

Here is the KAJ choir again, even better.

(This one is of a young man at a friend's wedding.)

For the benefit of friends and bands that have to sing this at a wedding, and are desperately searching the net for samples, this is also called Shir Hama'alot or Hama'alos, and it is sung


Thank you very much to an anonymous contributor, who directed us to the original score by Israel Meir Japhet.  It can be found here (at the Harvard Library.)  Click on 'how to read'. Click "read on your browser". When the document appears, our contributor says you should put 120 into the page search box on the bottom right.  On my browser, I don't get a search box on the bottom.  There's a line across the bottom with a circle on the line, and you slide the circle along the line until it says page 120, which will then appear above the line.

Or here, (at th) on page 144 according to the sliding marker on the right side, which corresponds to page 126 in the song book.  But you will have to download the entire book to see that page.


  1. For those who want to know the melody 'exactly', you can see the composer's original music here:
    Click on 'how to read'. Click "read on your browser". When the document appears, put 120 into the page search box on the bottom right.

  2. Excellent. I am out in south bend indiana but when I get back to my normal desktop I intend to get a direct link to that site into the post. Thanks!

  3. Ok, I'm back, and again, thank you! The link works perfectly, though I don't get a search box on my browser. I make that clear in my update to the post.

  4. You're very welcome! I'd love to share that music with the various bands whose singers try so hard to learn the song (from someone else who learned it from someone else...).
    The closest recording that I've found thus far is the Breuer's Choir on youtube: ('Choir of KAJ Sings Shir Hamaalos'). The timing is a bit different. However, when the notes sound different, I believe that's the harmony being sung so loudly that it drowns out the melody line.

  5. I put a comment on the youtube site directing readers to find the link to the original here, because you can't put an address into the comments there.