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Adon Olam - A Rediscovered Melody

Adon Olam stands as one of the best-known liturgical poems (or piyutim) in Jewish prayer. Speaking to our faith in the Almighty, it is sung usually at the end of the Shabbat morning service. While its authorship is uncertain, it is often attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol, the 11th century Spanish poet and philosopher.

Many melodies have been set to Adon Olam. However, recently Jason Vessal, a member of Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia (www.mikvehisrael.org), unearthed this melody from the synagogue’s archives:

Read on for more of the detective story in Jason’s own words:

Upon perusing the musical archive, I discovered this unique melody for “Adon ‘Olam.” I could not recognize the melody or the composer, whose name looks to me like either “Maide” or “Haide.” The music is dated “5 agosto 1887,” and on the other side of one of the sheets is written “Livorno.” What I do know is that Sabato Morais, one of the previous ministers of the congregation and a composer himself was from Livorno, and he died in 1897.

So I have a few questions: Can anyone recognize the melody? Can anyone discern the name of the composer? Can anyone provide any additional information?


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