|Source, rearranged (Hebrew)||Paraliturgical Adaptation (English)|
Before the glorious orbs of light!
Had shed one blissful ray,
In awful power the Lord of might!
Sat in eternal day.
At His creative, holy word!
The voice of nature spoke;
Unnumbered worlds, with one accord!
To living joys awoke.
אֲדוֹן עוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר מָלַךְ
בְּטֶֽרֶם כׇּל־יְצִיר נִבְרָא׃
לְעֵת נַֽעֲשָׂה כְּחֶפְצוֹ כֹּל
אֲזַי מֶֽלֶךְ שְׁמוֹ נִקְרָא׃
Then was proclaimed the mighty king,
Tremendous from on high!
Then did the holy creatures sing
His praises through the sky.
וְהוּא אֶחָד וְאֵין שֵׁנִי
לְהַמְשִׁיל לוֹ לְהַחְבִּירָה׃
וְאַֽחֲרֵי כִּכְלּוֹת הַכֹּל
לְבַדּוֹ יִמְלֹךְ נוֹרָא׃
All merciful in strength he reigns,
Without another, he retains
His power to redeem.
Without beginning, without end
The glory of his name,
Doer through the Universe extend
In unity the same! This stanza was not included in later printings.
He was the mighty God, alone!
His presence fills the world!
He will forever reign, the One!
Eternal only Lord! This stanza appears with different wording in later printings.
בְּלִי עֵֽרֶךְ בְּלִי דִמְיוֹן
בְּלִי שִׁנּוּי וְהַתְּמוּרָה׃
בְּלִי חִבּוּר בְּלִי פֵרוּד
Without conjunction, without part,
Without another, O thou art
Omnipotently Great! This stanza was not included in later printings.
וְהוּא אֵלִי וְחַי גּֽוֹאֲלִי
וְצוּר חֶבְלִי בְּיוֹם צָרָה׃
וְהוּא נִסִּי וּמָנוֹס לִי
מְנָת כּוֹסִי בְּיוֹם אֶקְרָא׃
All mighty, powerful, and just!
Thou art my God! My friend,
My rock, the refuge of my trust
In whom my hopes depend.
בְּיָדוֹ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי
בְּעֵת אִישַׁן וְאָעִֽירָה׃
וְעִם רוּחִי גְּוִיָּתִי
אֲדֹנָי לִי וְלֹא אִירָא׃
Oh! be my guardian whilst I sleep,
For thou didst lend me breath;
When I awake, my spirit keep,
And save my soul in death.
This paraliturgical adaptation in English of the well-known piyyut “Adon Olam” was written by David Nunes Carvalho (1784-1860). The adaptation was published as “Before the Glorious Orbs of Light” in Hymns Written for the Service of the Hebrew Congregation Beth Elohim, Charleston, S.C. (1842) and as “Unity of God (Adone Gnolam)” on page 8 of Hymns Written for the Use of Hebrew Congregations (1856). Gary Zola writes that it can be found in the “Carvalho Holograph” a supplement to the prayerbook prepared for use within the Reformed Society of Israelites by Carvalho sometime before 1830. The version of the work transcribed here is as the poem appears handwritten in the pages of a copy of the Constitution of the Reformed Society of Israelites (1825), including different wording and several additional stanzas missing in later printed works.
We call this work a paraliturgical adaptation instead of a translation for the following reasons: 1) Adon Olam has less stanzas compared to those in this hymn, 2) the stanzas in this adaption do not correspond to the piyyut without rearrangement, and 3) the adaptation corresponds more with the theme of the stanzas or lines they correspond to, rather than any exact or even inexact translation. I’ve set the adaptation side-by-side with the rearranged source text per what seems likely to be their inspiration. –Aharon Varady
“אֲדוֹן עוֹלָם | Before the Glorious Orbs of Light, a paraliturgical adaptation of Adon Olam by David Nunes Carvalho (ca. 1826)” is shared through the Open Siddur Project with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.