Rebbe Nachman's Yahrzeit: AZAMRA

The Yahrzeit  of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is the fourth day of the week of the festival of Sukkos (Chai Tishrei).

To celebrate this day, and in honour of Rebbe Nachman (may the merits of the Tzadikim shield us) I am posting  the score of a short musical composition which I wrote many years ago for the Breslov community, together with a few thoughts relevant to the texts used.


However successful we may be (or appear to be)-  there are always times when we fail to do what we aspire to do. We often fail to approach “perfection” let alone attain it.  We may also fail because we do not have the abilities or skills we wish we had. 

But failure and disability are not always what they seem and if we have done our very best in the spiritual life, it really is not just “second best”. 

In the contemplative life, our intention and our effort are more important than all else. Being able to see the potential of whatever we are blessed with (and making the best use of it) is the greatest gift we can be given.

One of the favourite expressions of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was   “I will sing to G-d with the little I have left”.    It is actually a psalm text (Psalm 146:2).   You can read his interpretation of that text in Likutei Moharan 1:282. 

I am not qualified to make comment on his exposition there—  but I can tell you what the phrase meant to me at the turn of the millennium:  I had, just then, finally begun to realise that my encroaching deafness meant that I could no longer function as a performing  and teaching musician.

I had been a school music teacher for over twenty years and that realisation took some getting used to. It actually took me four years, but I am well over it now and see the whole development as Providential— for if it had not happened I might not have been quite so compelled to listen  to the Still, Small Voice in contemplative prayer. 

The song I needed to sing was an internal one. We all have such a song written in the notation of our genes--and each person has their own melody—though it can often take an entire  lifetime to discover it.

At that time, the shock of becoming deaf helped me to become  aware that the "little time I had left" was diminishing rapidly, and that I had been given a wake-up call to make good use of it.  

As an expression of this realisation in teshuvah,  I resurrected an old composition I had written setting the text of Azamra in conjunction with a poem written by "Motele", an eight year old Jewish child during the Holocaust.  Its message was one of unquenchable optimism and a determination to make the most of things:

"From tomorrow on I'll be sad, not today.Though stormy  winds may blow today,Tomorrow's sun may drive them all away. And every day,no matter how bitter, I will say:From tomorrow on I'll be sad, not today."


            Here then is the musical score:
- To see each page clearly you will need to click on each separate page in turn.
- Click on each page to open them in a new window.
- Click  again to  enlarge to full size..

(Notes: The musical reference to the klezmer song “Spieltshe mir a liedele” is deliberate.  The work has yet to be performed:- I am totally flexible with regard to instrumentation, but would always recommend that the melody is sung by a child and not an adult. Metronome marks are just guidelines and may be over-ridden.)

Azamra l’Elohai b’odi  
(I will sing to G-d with the little I have left)

At those times when we are examining our response to the Divine call to  contemplative prayer,  “The little we have left” may refer to the years of life we have but it may also refer to our “abilities” in prayer or to the amount of time in a day or week or month that we are able to devote to developing an intimate relationship with Hashem in hisbodedus and hisbonenus.

To overcome any lack of fervour in our lives of dedication we should dig deep to awaken and raise up even the smallest , dormant spark of devotion which might lie buried in the lower reaches of our soul. Such sparks can be roused and fanned into a blaze of  life if we are prepared to make the effort.

We can beat back laziness, anxiety, and ingratitude by declaring “Azamra!”--however short our prayer sessions, however rare our retreats in solitude, however wrapped up in our families, or jobs, or secular studies we may be--what matters most is not the quantity of our contemplative actions and practices, but the dedicated and contemplative quality of our lives themselves. G-d sees the heart.

V’taheir libeinu l’ovdecha be’emes.
O, purify our hearts that we may  truly serve You.

Nachman Davies
Oct 8 2017