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אֲדוֹן עוֹלָם (אשכנז)‏ | Adōn Olam, translated by Ben Zion Bokser (1957)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

אֲדוֹן עוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר מָלַךְ
בְּטֶֽרֶם כׇּל־יְצִיר נִבְרָא׃
לְעֵת נַֽעֲשָׂה כְּחֶפְצוֹ כֹּל
אֲזַי מֶֽלֶךְ שְׁמוֹ נִקְרָא׃
The Lord eternal reigned supreme
When all the universe was naught,
His name be praised by every life
That in His gracious will He wrought.

וְאַֽחֲרֵי כִּכְלּוֹת הַכֹּל
לְבַדּוֹ יִמְלֹךְ נוֹרָא׃
וְהוּא הָיָה וְהוּא הֹוֶה
וְהוּא יִֽהְיֶה בְּתִפְאֲרָה׃
And if this world should ever cease
He alone will reign in awe,
The tides of time will not erase
The workings of His wondrous law.

וְהוּא אֶחָד וְאֵין שֵׁנִי
לְהַמְשִׁיל לוֹ לְהַחְבִּירָה׃
בְּלִי רֵאשִׁית בְּלִי תַּכְלִית
וְלוֹ הָעֹז וְהַמִּשְׂרָה׃
Our God abides in mystery,
His oneness is beyond compare,
The grandeur of His sovereign might,
It shines to us from everywhere.

וְהוּא אֵלִי וְחַי גּֽוֹאֲלִי
וְצוּר חֶבְלִי בְּיוֹם צָרָה׃
וְהוּא נִסִּי וּמָנוֹס לִי
מְנָת כּוֹסִי בְּיוֹם אֶקְרָא׃
He is my Rock, my Refuge sure,
He is my help when grief assails,
My cup of life is ever full.
His saving mercy never fails.

בְּיָדוֹ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי
בְּעֵת אִישַׁן וְאָעִֽירָה׃
וְעִם רוּחִי גְּוִיָּתִי
אֲדֹנָי לִי וְלֹא אִירָא׃
My life is ever in His hand,
Though storms may rage, I will not fear,
When I sleep and when I wake,
I am at peace, my God is near.

“Adon Olam” is a piyyut that became popular in the 15th century and is often attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021–1058) and less often to Sherira Gaon (900-1001), or his son, Hai ben Sherira Gaon (939-1038). The variation of the piyyut appearing here is the 10 line (5 stanza) version familiar to Ashkenazi congregations. (Sefaradi siddurim have 12 line (six stanza) variants, and there are some with 14 or 15 lines.) The translation appearing here is as found on page 204 of the HaSiddur (“The Prayer Book,” 1957), compiled by Ben Zion Bokser. He adds the following commentary:

The hymn Adon Olam has been ascribed to the authorship of Solomon ibn Gabirol (born 1021, died 1058). Its sublime conception of God is in the spirit of Gabirol’s work, but there is no proof that he was really the author of it. Because texts of the Prayer Book before the fourteenth century omit it, we may place the date of its composition as not earlier than the early part of that century. Two basic ideas dominate this hymn. One declares that God’s existence and sovereignty are independent of the existent universe, that He fashioned the universe in time, and the He will continue to be after all existence has returned to void. This negates the view that God is only an aspect of the universe in existence. The other declares God’s providential concern for each of His creatures and the abiding peace and security that men find in drawing close to their Maker. The Adon Olam was added to the prayer on retiring for the night. In the synagogue liturgy it has generally been recited as part of the preliminary prayers in the morning service, appropriately so, because it voices gratitude for God’s providence in having enabled us to rise in the morning for a new day of life. As a hymn at the close of the service, it has been recited especially Friday night and the night of Yom Kippur. Presently it is often used at the close of Sabbath and festival morning services as well.

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