Singing the siddur: the man who'd like to tune us into prayer

July 17, 2020

Source: The Jewish Chronicle


Richard Collis hopes his musical recording of the Shabbat service will help more people to become familiar with the liturgy. Back in London, over the next few years he began recording the melodies with a musician friend from Edgware, Yossi Yoffe. And now he has released a musical double-album of the Shabbat service from Nishmat to Adon Olam with 64 tracks in which pretty every word of the prayers is sung.

The tunes are arranged in an easy listening style with percussion, guitar, keyboard and sometimes multi-layered vocals. “It had to be easy to learn and for people to sing along and we had to make it sufficiently melodic and enjoyable so people would want to listen.”

Most were based on traditional or Carlebach melodies, but sometimes they are “sampled”, adapted from a few bars of the original. He has found tunes for parts of the liturgy not usually sung such as P’tum Haketoret, the Talmud passage about incense, or Al Tirah, the short passage after Aleinu.

The tunes can now all be downloaded free from streaming services such as iTunes or Spotify or heard on Youtube. But a two-disc CD is available for sale as well as a We Sing We Stay Together book with a translation of each prayer and a transliteration into English.

Richard hopes teachers will now disseminate the tunes to children and families will accept his invitation to at least learn to sing one prayer together. The prayers cry out to be sung “with happiness”, he said.

Visit the “We Sing We Stay Together” website. 


Updated: Oct. 22, 2020