It is our goal to provide the Messianic congregational community and interested Church folks with quality liturgical resources for use and enjoyment in the home and at services.
Some items are of particular interest mainly to Messianic Congregational leaders and functionaries. But the three most popular items, the Messianic Shabbat Siddur (prayer book) now in three languages, English, Spanish and Russian, and the Messianic High Holiday Machzor (both books available with CDs), and the Z’mirot Shabbat (Songs of the Sabbath) music CDs, appeal to a broad spectrum of the Believing community, and even to some traditional Jewish people!
Sincerely, In Messiah Yeshua,
A Vision For Hebrew Liturgy In Messianic Congregations
As Messianic Congregations move to include more traditional elements of Hebrew liturgy in their worship services, the following are presented for consideration as guidelines for liturgical worship.
The Messianic Cantor, the worship leader of traditional or traditional-style New Covenant Hebrew Liturgy, should have as a goal the leading of the Congregation into the presence of God through worship. This role is somewhat different than that of the present-day rabbinic cantor. Traditionally, the cantor was to be the sha-lee-ahch tzee-boor, the one sending up prayers on behalf of the Congregation. Today however, in most non-Messianic synagogues, the cantor is expected to be practically an “opera star”, with some folks coming to services just to listen to the cantor sing. While a cantor should have a kol tahm, a pleasing voice, the Messianic cantor should try to lead the Congregation into a depth of worship with the living God. Rather than be someone who is just listened to, the cantor should be a true worship leader.
Whatever Hebrew is used in the liturgy, and whatever prayers are taken from the traditional Siddur should be Messiah oriented, or at least God the Father oriented. Songs such as Artzah Ahleenoo while dealing with Aliya and living in Israel, are not songs of praise or worship to a living God. On the other hand, a few otherwise very worshipful prayers from the traditional Siddur contain curses against believers, or are unscriptural in some way, and should not be used in our services unless they are rewritten to reflect more scriptural truth.
In order to make Hebrew liturgy more meaningful as worship, the origin and significance of the prayers should be given. In Messianic Congregations there is an ongoing need for congregants and visitors to understand the origin and significance of the liturgy that is being used in services. Brief explanations can be offered before each element of liturgy in a teaching manner, or in a manner of exhortation. Because of the continual presence of newcomers in congregations who need to be educated, Messianic Siddurim that contain the explanations and notes might also be used.
Translation and transliteration should always be provided. Most of our congregants and visitors do not have a strong Hebrew background. If we expect participation during the chanting and singing of Hebrew liturgy, we should provide transliteration for all the liturgy used. If we want our liturgy to be truly worshipful, we need to be able to understand what we are saying. This can be accomplished by proclaiming the liturgy in English (or whatever our mother tongue is), besides chanting it in Hebrew, or at least providing the translation on powerpoint, if not in a Siddur. Unfortunately, there are still too many stories of people attending congregations for the first time where extensive Hebrew liturgy was used without explanations, translation or transliteration. These newcomers, unable to participate in a meaningful way, came away with very negative feelings towards the liturgy, and possibly even the congregation itself and the Messianic vision.
Liturgy, to be meaningful as worship, should be sung and chanted wherever possible in simple, easy to carry tunes and chants, and by the whole Congregation. While at times we enter into worship through prayer, most of the time it is through worshipful singing that we enter into the depths of worship. By chanting together the Hebrew liturgy after having its significance made known to us, we can use it as a means of entering into worship. This cannot be done just by listening to a Cantor singing the liturgy by himself, or where the liturgy contains so many cantorial embellishments that the congregation cannot sing along.
Hopefully, by being mindful of these considerations, we will be able to increase the use of our very beautiful, spiritual traditional liturgy and enhance the quality of our services.
Respectfully submitted, In Yeshua’s Name,