healingsong

RECORDINGS:  Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1omJzOGLv8 to hear Larry Lesser’s first Jewish song hit, “HEALING SONG” — a piano arrangement on Ellen M. Wilson’s 2008 album Songs of Ascent and a guitar-piano-drum arrangement on Larry Bach‘s 2013 album Openings.

LIVE PERFORMANCE: here’s a sample concert and service

LYRICS:   Words & Music © 2004, 2008 Lawrence M. Lesser (BMI), all rights reserved
Text: Inspired by the MiSheberach and Viddui prayers for healing of the body and soul.

Yai, dai-dai…

May it be Your will that we will heal
Completely whole, body and soul.
And may we hear Your love through the fear:
We understand we’re in Your hands.

Yai, dai-dai…

May we have our share of future life
And may this prayer bring more light.

Yai, dai-dai…

Not me alone — y’hi ratzon
May it be Your will that we heal…
May it be Your will that we will heal…

BACKGROUND:

While aware of the general potential of music to heal, it was Larry’s attending ‘healing services’ in El Paso that moved him to write in December 2004 his own “Healing Song.” The song concisely and deeply expresses the essence of Jewish prayer for healing in a way that gives the singer and listener abundant space to make their own connection – a connection that is both personal and communal and that ultimately goes beyond words, as reflected by the use of Chassidic niggun syllables in the chorus that have no literal semantic meaning.  This song, like most Jewish prayers, is in first person plural to emphasize our mutual responsibility and fates (see www.jewfaq.org/prayer.htm and https://www.hadar.org/torah-tefillah/resources/praying-healing-others for further thoughts).

In early 2008, Lesser showed it to UTEP voice faculty coloratura soprano Ellen Wilson, who enthusiastically asked to record it as the only previously-unrecorded song for her debut CD, Songs of Ascent.  The resulting ambient keyboard-based version (produced by Scott Leader) was featured prominently in a fall 2008 KTEP-FM “State of the Arts” interview (by Mónica Gómez) of Wilson and Lesser and in a follow-up interview a year later.  The song has been prominently used by congregations in several states, such as El Paso’s Temple Mount Sinai using it in regular rotation in its Bikkur Cholim (Caring Community) initiative as well as in services for Shabbat, Yom Kippur, etc.) and transcends denominational and faith lines.  In a March 18, 2010 blogpost, the congregation’s rabbi described the song as “[combining] beautiful sounds with sound theology.  Never straying into the realm of tefilah lashav (‘praying in vain’), it is equally appropriate as a public prayer for healing at Shabbat worship and at the bedside of a hospice patient”  and also stated that the song “deserves a place in the pantheon of healing music with the Mi Shebeirach settings of Friedman, Levine, and Sher.”

“Healing Song” has been featured in other settings, ranging from a blogpost of the literary journal of the Center of Bioethics and Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University to a university-wide program for healing (the month of the Walmart mass shooting in El Paso) and to a version recorded on Larry Bach‘s 2013 album, Openings.

SHEET MUSIC: contact the composer; guitarists may capo on the third fret and use chord fingerings from the key of G: G, C, D/F#,  Emadd9