Hinei Mah Tov! (Behold How Good!)
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In my adaptive translation of this song, I have taken two liberties:
1. Every Hebrew noun is either masculine or feminine. The word “achim” that shows up in Psalm 133 means “brothers” and can also be inclusive of males and females in community. In my adaptation, it was my choice to use both “achayot” (sisters) and “achim” and to translate these words as “sisters, brothers, neighbors, friends, others, people.”
2. The Hebrew “gam yachad” is commonly translated as “together as one” or “in unity” in English. The substitution of “in harmony” is my own interpretation of what being together means.
This song came to me during the 2020-21 Covid pandemic, an extended period when participation in choirs was solely virtual and I was thirsting to sing in person with people with whom I had sung in community for years. The interlacing of the three melodies is intended as a celebration of the gift, never to be taken for granted, of gathering and harmonizing in person.
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Hinei mah tov umah naim
Shevet achim gam yachad.
Shevet achayot v’achim.
Hinei mah tov!
Sisters, brothers, neighbors, others,
People dwelling all as one.
Living all in harmony!
How pleasant it is!