Delving into lovingkindness: week one of the Omer
Too great a teaching to only share once: Song for the Seventh Day

Six poems of praise (Hallel)

We recite Hallel (psalms 113-118) on festivals. Today I'm sharing a set of six short poems which arise out of Hallel. These are not direct translations -- they're somewhere between the original Hebrew text and the words of my own heart. I offer them in hopes that they may speak to you and might help you connect with these psalms of praise today -- whether you're reciting them because it's Pesach, or because it's Easter, or for some other reason altogether.





1. (113)

Yesterday's sleet has melted: I offer praise
the sky is a perfect eggshell: I offer praise

my husband has taken the baby out of the house
freeing me to wrap myself in rainbow silk

to squint into the sun and sing psalms
I offer praise

2. (114)

let all offer praise
to what brings us forth from constriction
when we remember to say thank you
the hills and horizon dance

3. (115)

You spun the heavens on Your unthinkable loom
and fashioned the elements of creation with Your deft hands

the heavens are Yours
but the earth is in our keeping

the dead can't praise, but we can
help us remember

4. (116)

I yearn to serve
as my ancestors yearned to serve

you have loosened
the cords around my heart

5. (117)

let every nation wake up, seized
by the yearning to praise

help us manifest mercy and truth
both are Yours

6. (118)

let gratitude well up like water
     lovingkindness is forever
let my community call forth
     lovingkindness is forever
let all who marry fear and awe call forth
     lovingkindness is forever

from the straits of depression I have called out
You answer me with heart wide as the fields

open Your gates for me
I yearn to enter and give thanks

help me know that what was rejected in me
is cornerstone for something new

this day, right here, was shaped by You
I want to rejoice in it

Dear One, bring us salvation
bring us Your help

You give us light; in return we imagine
festival processions, our arms full of branches

bless all who come in Your name
     lovingkindness is forever