Ps. 90: Two Musical Interpretations
Rabbi Hanna Tiferet is an Eshet Hazon/Woman of Vision and a Vatika/Grandmother in the Jewish Renewal tradition. She has recorded eight albums of original liturgical music that lift the spirit and soothe the soul. She has nurtured many communities in the US and Canada and currently serves as a Mashpi’ah Ruchanit/Spiritual Guide to the holy students in the ALEPH Ordination Program.
Vi’hi Noam Psalm 90:17
Composed and Performed by Rabbi Hanna Tiferet
Vi’hi noam Adonai Eloheynu aleynu
Uma’aseh yadeynu konenah aleynu
Uma’aseh yadeynu koneneyhu
May G!d’s bliss be upon us
And connect us to the work of our hands
As the work of our hands connects us to G!d
The last verse of Psalm 90 calls us into partnership with G!d in the ongoing act of creation. I call this “The Artist’s Prayer” because it refers to our hands through which Divine energy flows for so many of our creative expressions. The beauty and blessing of G!d’s inspiration flows through our hands. And our hands complete the cycle by affirming the Source of the Great Flow of Life.
I have also created a circle dance (pre-COVID!) that embodies the words and their meaning.
Vi’hi Noam Circle Dance
Since these words acknowledge the creative energy that flows through our hands, this dance makes use of the hands in many different ways.
Choose a partner. Stand next to each other. Form a large circle. Face the center.
Vi’hi Noam - Circle right arm above head, then left arm above head.
Adonai - Hands on heart
Eloheynu - Rest arms on backs of people next to you in circle.
Aleynu - Feeling blessed as one, bend forward together slowly, then backward. Look up.
Repeat the pattern above.
Uma’aseh yadeynu - Face your partner and look into their eyes. Allow your palms to touch at heart level and then mirror each other, circling up, out, down and back to center.
Konenah aleynu - Place your hands on partner’s head, blessing them.
Uma’aseh - Extend right hand to shake hands with your partner and gently place your left hand on the outside of their right hand.
Yadeynu - Say goodbye with eye contact as you extend your left hand to greet your new partner (allemande right and left).
Koneneyhu - Cross right hand over left in a double handshake. Lift arms up and let go. Turn to center of circle with arms extended above and begin again.
Chris Brunelle has been involved in liturgical music since 4th grade, participating in numerous choirs and ensembles throughout the years. He is currently the music director at Holy Family Church in Portland, Oregon. He leads music for two other churches on a weekly basis and has led music for liturgy at numerous area churches, including the Portland Cathedral. He has a YouTube channel which provides videos of commonly used Catholic songs and psalms, with a subscribership that is 20,000 strong, with viewers from all over the world.
Composer’s Statement—Janet Sullivan Whitaker:
“The refrain for this song came to me the night after I was asked to sing at the memorial service for John Woodcock, my husband’s friend since childhood. By the following afternoon the piece was completely finished, just in time for John’s memorial service where it was sung for the first time.”
Liturgist’s Statement—Chris Brunelle:
“We use this beautiful song extensively at my church in instances that call for hope and healing, for a reminder of God's never-ending love for us. The congregation has always responded well to this piece, singing it heartily and genuinely praying the words. If I asked our parishioners for a list of the most meaningful songs we use regularly, this would be at the top of the list.”
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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.