Hava Nagila

DESCRIPTION: Modern Hebrew: "Hava nagila (x3) venis mecha. Hava neranena (x3), venis mecha. Uru, uru achim, Uru achim belev sameach." Hearers are urged to be merry
AUTHOR: unknown (reworked by Abraham Z. Idelsohn; see NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1915 (tune collected by Idelsohn, who apparently set the words in 1918)
KEYWORDS: foreignlanguage nonballad
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, p. 443, "Hava Nagila" (notes only)

NOTES [227 words]: Not exactly a folk song by origin, but now so popular that it may qualify in practice. And its roots are "folky." Frankly, however, I included it only because I found the following information on p. 16 of Irene Heskes, Passport to Jewish Music: Its History, Traditions, and Culture, originally published as #33 in Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance, 1994 (I use the 1995? Tara Publications paperback edition):
"Abraham Z. Idelsohn [1882-1938] was especially drawn to the works of Hebrew poets, particularly Chayim Nachim Bialik (1873-1934), some of whose poems he set to music.... He compiled a first songster in order to bring good Jewish music into the schools., adapting for educational use many Jewish folk melodies, one of which he renamed as Hava Nagilah (Let us be merry). It was derived from a Hasidic nigun (tune) sung by the follower of the celebrated Hasidic leader Rabbi Yisroel (1797-1850) o Sadigora (Krilovitz), also known as the Rizhiner rebbe (rabbi)."
If I understand Heskes correctly (the text is not very clear), the text of Hava Nagila was first published in Folksongs of the Eastern Jews (Volume 9, p. 200, song #716). Idelsohn had earlier published the tune, without text, as his #155. He had collected it in 1915. But he did not copyright the combination of text and tune, so he is rarely credited with the piece. - RBW
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