Billy writes, “I’ve had few experiences, perhaps only one, where I composed a piece of music that left me wondering where that came from. While I don’t understand how I could have written this, I completely understand why it happened for this text. R’tzei asks God to accept the prayer that we have offered. That’s a tall order when we don’t really even know what God would consider a good prayer. To me, it becomes a question of priorities (whether we believe in God or not). Do our personal wants align with what the universe really needs from us? Call it God or not, the question pokes at us. We spend our lives experiencing the world around us, and choosing how we want to respond to it. The quality of our response is crucial, and worth wondering if we’re doing it right. For me, that’s why R’tzei (with or without my musical setting of it) is such a powerful and important prayer.”
This recording comes from “The First Album,” Beged Kefet’s 1987 debut. Beged Kefet (1982-2009) was comprised of Rabbi Les Bronstein, Rabbi Billy Dreskin, Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Cantor Riki Lippitz, Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller, Beth Sher, and Cantor Leon Sher. As you will hear, we worked hard to produce tight harmonies. And this was before you could tune things up afterward. Audio verite, you might say!
I’ve recently reworked the piece so that it can be performed with two vocal parts plus violin. You can download these parts here as well.
Translation: Be gracious, Eternal God, to Your people Israel, and receive our prayers with love. May our worship always be acceptable to You. Fill us with the knowledge that You are near to all who seek You in truth. Let our eyes behold Your Presence in our midst and in the midst of our people in Zion. We praise You, O God, whose Presence gives life to Zion, to Israel, and to all humankind.
original Beged Kefet release June 1, 1987
text from Jewish liturgy
music by Billy Dreskin
performed by Beged Kefet
sound engineering by Skipp Tullen z”l (Tullen Sound Recording, Morristown, NJ)
MP3 Audio (orig Beged Kefet recording), MP3 Audio (new Ellen & Billy Dreskin recording), Beged Kefet Lead Sheet for 3 Voices (pdf), Beged Kefet Piano-Vocal Score for 3 Voices (pdf), Beged Kefet Full Arrangement and Parts (pdf), New Full Arrangement and Parts (pdf), New Lead Sheet for 2 Voices, New Piano-Vocal Score for 2 Voices