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Psalm 51: “Lev Tahor” by Dan Nichols (Music)

As you read (below) and listen to Dan Nichols interpretation of the psalm (above), consider the following questions:

  1. How does the repetition of select lines from Psalm 51 impact your experience of the text?
  2. The song begins with a solo and then transitions to include multiple voices during the chorus. How does this alteration affect your experience of this poem?
  3. In Jewish tradition, the words “God, open up my lips / let my mouth declare your praise” are recited immediately before the Amidah, the central “Standing” prayer, which includes blessings, requests, and praise. Why do you think this line was chosen as the introduction to such an important prayer?

Verse 1: Create for me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Chorus: Do not cast me away from Your presence.
Your holy spirit do not take from me.

Verse 2: Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation,
and let a willing spirit uphold me.

Chorus: Do not cast me away from Your presence.
Your holy spirit do not take from me.

Verse 3: God, open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise.

About Dan Nichols

Dan is a product of the Union for Reform Judaism’s camping movement. He has toured Jewish summer camps across North America for the last 15 years. A classically trained singer, Dan received his Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of North Carolina. In 1995, realizing the potential of music to make powerful connections with Jewish youth, Dan established the Jewish rock band Eighteen. Since that time, Dan and Eighteen have released 11 albums. Several of their songs have become Jewish communal anthems throughout North America. Dan tours over 180 days each year, where he often serves as artist-in-residence and teacher for congregations and camp communities. He has been featured at conferences and conventions of nearly every major Jewish movement. Dan lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Elysha and his daughter Ava.