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ClassicsOnline Home » ZAIMONT: Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening (excerpts) / A Tale of Abram and Isaac
And it happened … that God tested Abraham. And He said to him … "Take, pray, your son, your only one, whom you love, Isaac, and go forth to the land of Moriah and offer him up as a burnt offering …"
"Abraham, Abraham … Do not reach out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him, for now I know that you fear God and you have not held back your son, your only one, from Me."
And the Lord's messenger called out to Abraham once again from the heavens and said, "By My own self I swear, declares the Lord, that because you have done this thing and have not held back your son, your only one, I will greatly bless you and will greatly multiply your seed, as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the shore of the sea. … And all the nations of the earth will be blessed through your seed because you have listened to My voice." (Genesis 22:15-18)
But the old man would not do so [offer the ram instead], but slew his son, And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
Musically, the work is dramatic, with considerable text-painting, and it is tightly knit motivically. Musical materials are derived throughout from two sources: a rising and then falling half-step (part of the angel's command, "Abram, wilt thou rest?"), and a lyrical progression associated with Isaac. Contrasting with the highly forceful, narrative choral sections are lyric solos for Abram and Isaac in accompanied recitative style. Abram is given music that underlines the enormity of his quandary. His mood is mercurial, shifting between the desire to reassure his son and the knowledge that he must be the agent of his son's death.
[May God's great Name be even more exalted and sanctifi ed in the world that He created according to His own will; and may He fully establish His kingdom in your lifetime, in your own days, and in the life of all those of the House of Israel— soon, indeed without delay. Those praying here signal assent and say, "amen." May His great Name be praised forever, for all time, for all eternity. Worshipped, praised, glorified, exalted, elevated, adored, uplifted, and acclaimed be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He— over and beyond all the words of blessing and song, praise and consolation ever before uttered in this world. Those praying here signal assent and say, "amen." May there be abundant peace for us and for all Israel; and those praying here signal assent and say, "amen." May He who establishes peace in His high place establish peace for us and for all Israel; and those praying here signal assent and say, "amen."]
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ZAIMONT: Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening (e...