Hebrew is in the blood of any Christian, even an Episcopalian.
An oversimplification of sorts, I have often said that our liturgy is descended Jewish liturgy. What we do in worship closely follows the Jewish liturgy. Jesus just tagged on Holy Communion to the Jewish liturgy when he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
Today many Christians refer to the Old Testament as the Hebrew scriptures. I have even seen this in print in parish service leaflets, “A reading from the Hebrew scriptures."
Our Motet Choir has sung anthems in Hebrew. “May the words of my mouth” from Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service comes to mind, with is rich sonorities and deep ethos.
But this Sunday (March 31), our Choristers will sing in Hebrew.
This anthem by Michele Citrin includes one of the most well-known prayers ever heard in Christian churches. More than once, Episcopalians have heard from the pulpit at the beginning of the sermon:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
The brief but beautiful anthem the Choristers will sing during Communion includes this verse from Psalm 19:14.
Yih’yu l’ratzon imrei fi v’hegyon libi l’fanecha. Adonai tzuri v’goali.
Go inside your heart, just be.
Go inside your heart and see what it wants,
what it needs, what it yearns when you breathe.
May the words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
be kind, be true, acceptable to You,
O my Rock and my Redeemer.
Photo credit: Joshua 1:1 from the Hebrew Bible, Aleppo Codex, 10th cent., Public Domain.