Hanukkah music

Hanukkah music

Hanukkah music (or Chanukah music) (Hebrew: שירי חנוכה‎) contains several songs associated with the festival of Chanukah.


Chanukah blessings

There are three Chanukah blessings (Modern Hebrew: בֵּרַכוֹת לֵחֲנוּכָּה Birkhat L'ḥanukah, Lit: Chanukah blessings) that are sung for lighting the candles of the menorah. The third blessing (shehecheyanu) is only sung on the first night. After the two or three blessings are sung, Hanerot Halalu is chanted. The following blessings are transliterated according to proper Modern Hebrew.

English Hebrew Transliteration
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah lights." בָּרוּךְ אַתָה יי אֶלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם אֲשֶר קִדְשָנוּ בֵּמִצְווֹתַיו וְצִיוַונוּ לֵהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶל חֲנוּכָּה׃ barukh atah adonai eloheinu melekh ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner (shel) ḥanukkah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who performed wondrous miracles for our ancestors, in those days, at this moment." בָּרוּךְ אַתָה יי אֶלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם שֵעָשָׂה נִיסִים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָמִים הַהֵם בַּזְמָן הַזֶה׃ barukh atah adonai eloheinu melekh ha'olam she'asah nisim l'avotenu bayamim hahem baz'man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us in life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment. בָּרוּךְ אַתָה יְיָ אֶלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם שֵהֵחְיָנוּ וְקִיְימָנוּ וְהִגִעָנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶה׃ baruch atah adonai eloheinu melekh ha'olam sheheḥehyanu v'kiy'manu v'higianu lazman hazeh.

Maoz Tzur

Main articles: Maoz Tzur and Rock of Ages

"Ma'oz Tzur" (Hebrew: מעוז צור‎), also a widely known English version as "Rock of Ages", is a Jewish liturgical poem or piyyut. It is written in Hebrew, and is usually sung on the holiday of Chanukah, after lighting the festival lights. Its six stanzas correspond to five events of Jewish history and a hope for the future. Of its six stanzas, often only the first stanza is sung (or the first and fifth), as this is what directly pertains to Hanukkah. "Ma'oz Tzur" was written sometime in the 13th century.

Judas Maccabaeus

Judas Maccabaeus is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel.

Oh Chanukah

Oh Chanukah (also Chanukah, Oh Chanukah) is an English version of the Yiddish Oy Chanukah (Yiddish: חנוכּה אױ חנוכּה Khanike Oy Khanike). The English words, while not a translation, are roughly based on the Yiddish. Oy Chanukah is a traditional Yiddish Chanukah song and Chanukah , The English version, along with I Have a Little Dreidel, is one of the most recognized English Chanukah songs. Both of these songs are playful songs with upbeat tempo and are sung by children. The lyrics are about dancing the Horah, eating latkes, playing dreidel, lighting the candles and singing happy songs.

I Have a Little Dreidel

I Have a Little Dreidel[1] (also known as the Dreidel song[1]) is a very famous song in the English speaking world for Hanukkah, which also has a Yiddish version. The Yiddish version is Ikh Bin A Kleyner Dreydl, (Yiddish: איך בין אַ קלײנער דרײדל Ikh Bin A Kleyner Dreydl Lit: I am a little dreidel). The English version of the song is well associated with the festival of Chanukah, and is known by many Jews and non-Jews alike. The lyrics of the song are simple and about making a dreidel and playing with it. The lyrics are as follows:

I have a little dreidel
I made it out of clay,
And when it's dry and ready
O dreidel I shall play.
O dreidel dreidel dreidel
I made it out of clay,
And when it's dry and ready,
O dreidel I shall play.


A popular Hebrew Chanukah song, "Sevivon" or "S'vivon" (Hebrew: סביבון sevivon) is Hebrew for "dreidel", where dreidel (Yiddish: דרײדל dreydl) is the Yiddish word for a spinning top. This song, "Sevivon," is very popular in Israel and by others familiar with the Hebrew language. The English below is a literal translation, not an English version.

Hebrew Transliteration from Hebrew English Literal Translation

סֵבִיבוֹן סב סב סב
חנכּה הוא חג טוב
חנכּה הוא חג טוב
סֵבִיבוֹן סב סב סב

(In Israel)
סב נא סב כה וכה
נס גדול היה פה
נס גדול היה פה
סב נא סב כה וכה

חַג שִׂמְחָה הוּא לַעָם
נֵס גָדוֹל הָיָה שָם
נֵס גָדוֹל הָיָה שָם
חַג שִׂמְחָה הוּא לַעָם

Sevivon, sov, sov, sov
ḥanukah, hu ḥag tov
ḥanukah, hu ḥag tov
Sevivon, sov, sov, sov!

(In Israel)
Sov na sov ko va'cho
Nes gadol hayah poh
Nes gadol hayah poh
Sov na sov ko va'kho!

ḥag simḥa hu la-am
Nes gadol hayah sham
Nes gadol hayah sham
ḥag simḥa hu la-am.

Dreidel, spin, spin, spin.
Chanukah is a great holiday.
Chanukah is a great holiday.
Dreidel, spin, spin, spin.

(In Israel)
Spin, please, spin like this and that.
A great miracle happened here.
A great miracle happened here.
Spin, please, spin like this and that.

A joyous holiday for the nation.
A great miracle happened there.
A great miracle happened there.
A joyous holiday for the nation.

Al Hanisim

Al Hanisim (or Al Hanissim) is a popular Hebrew song for Chanukah taken from liturgy (see Hanukkah → Additions to the daily prayers), and is also an Israeli folk dance. The song is about thanking God for saving the Jewish people.

Mi Y'malel

Mi Y'malel (or Mi Yimalel) (Hebrew: מי ימלל "Who can retell?") is a very well known Hebrew Chanukah song. The opening line, which literally means "Who can retell the mighty feats of Israel," is a secular rewording of Psalms 106:2, which reads "Who can retell the mighty feats of God." Below is a singable version of this song called "Who Can Retell," with words based on the Hebrew, as well as a literal translation.

Hebrew Transliteration from Hebrew English (singable version) English (literally translated version)

מי ימלל גבורות ישראל
אותן מי ימנה
הן בכל דור יקום הגיבור
גואל העם

בימים ההם בזמן הזה
מכבי מושיע ופודה
ובימינו כל עם ישראל
יתאחד, יקום ויגאל

Mi yimalel gvurot Yisrael,
Otan mi yimne?
Hen be'chol dor yakum ha'gibor
Goel ha'am!

Ba'yamim ha'hem ba'zman ha'ze
Maccabi moshia u'fode
U'v'yameinu kol am Yisrael
Yitached yakum ve'yigael!

Who can retell the things that befell us,
Who can count them?
In every age, a hero or sage
Came to our aid.

In days of yore in Israel's ancient land
Brave Maccabeus led the faithful band
But now all Israel must as one arise
Redeem itself through deed and sacrifice.

Who can tell of the heroic deeds of Israel?
Who can count them??
Yes in every generation a hero arises
To save the people.

In those days at this time
The Maccabee saved and redeemed
But in our days the whole people Israel
Will unite, arise, and save.

Ner Li

Literally translated as "I have a candle," Ner Li is a simple Hebrew Chanukah song that is popular in Israel. The words are by L. Kipnis and the music, by D. Samburski.[2]

The transliteration of the Hebrew is as follows:
Ner li, ner li, ner li daqiq,
Bakhanukah neri 'adliq.
Bakhanukah neri ya'ir
Bakhanukah shirim 'ashir.[3]

The literal translation is:
I have a candle, I have a small thin candle
On Chanukah, my candle I will light.
On Chanukah my candle will glow
On Chanukah I will sing songs.

Light One Candle

"Light One Candle" is a 1983 Hanukkah song written by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary. It is a very popular song and it has been sung by the trio at their concerts. It is a song that encourages the Jewish people to remember the history of the holiday and continue their heritage.

The Chanukah Song

A series of popular Chanukah songs by Adam Sandler each a slightly different version that all center around the theme of Jewish children feeling isolated during the Christmas season and Sandler's listing of Jewish celebrities. The song often gets airplay during the winter holiday season.

Eight Days of Hanukkah

Eight Days of Hanukka is a Hanukkah song written by Senator Orrin Hatch and Madeline Stone, a Jewish songwriter from the Upper West Side of Manhattan who specializes in Christian music. The song was written at the suggestion of Jeffrey Goldberg.[4]

Hanukkah Hey Ya

Hanukkah Hey Ya, is a Chanukah spoof of a chart-topping 2003 OutKast song, “Hey Ya!,” by American comedian Eric Schwartz. The song was made into an e-card in 2004.[5] In 2009 Nefesh B'Nefesh produced a Hanukkah Flash Mob viral video that became a major success.[6] The mob assembled on Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda Street and was choreographed by new immigrant Marvin Casey.[7][8]


Candlelight is a song written and sung by The Maccabeats, an undergraduate a cappella student group at Yeshiva University. It was released in late 2010 and quickly achieved viral status.


  1. ^ a b University of Pennsylvania Library: Freedman Collection of Recorded Jewish Music
  2. ^ "Custom On-line Liturgy". Liturgy.lashon.net. http://liturgy.lashon.net. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  3. ^ "Ner Li". Zemerl. http://zemerl.com/cgi-bin//print.pl?title=Ner+Li. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  4. ^ A Senator’s Gift to the Jews, Nonreturnable, MARK LEIBOVICH December 8, 2009 , New York Times [1]
  5. ^ December 1, 2009, Smooth-E’s Jewtronic Music-Making, By Ryan Torok, Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, [2]
  6. ^ "Hanukkah Flash Mob". Urlesque. 2009-12-16. http://www.urlesque.com/2009/12/03/hanukkah-flash-mob/. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  7. ^ Feeling the beat, By YAEL BRYGEL, Jerusalem Post, June 3, 2009
  8. ^ now to post a comment! (2009-11-23). "Nefesh B'Nefesh Hanukkah Flash Mob (Official NBN Release)". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULtglogZbR8. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 

External links

See also

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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