‘Songs’, sung at the table on the Sabbath. The Zemirot, some of them composed as Sabbath-table hymns, others as independent liturgical hymns and adapted for the purpose, date from the Middle Ages down to the sixteenth century. Each community, and even individual families, often have their own special melodies for the Zemirot with different tunes for each. The idea behind the Zemirot is the need to celebrate the Sabbath as a day of joy and gladness with a combination of spiritual and material fare, a day which, in the words of the Rabbis, is a semblance of the World to Come. One of the most popular of the Zemirot, ‘Yah Ribbon’, was composed by Israel Najara (1555–1628) in Aramaic. The opening stanza of this hymn (in Israel Abraham's translation) conveys the flavour of the Zemirot: ‘God of the world, eternity's sole Lord! King over kings, be now Thy name adored! Blessed are we to whom thou didst accord this gladsome time Thy wondrous ways to scan.’
Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.