Shir HaMaalot

Song of Accents


Shir haMaalot beshuv Hashem et shivat Tziyon
Song of Ascents:  When Hashem returned us to Tziyon from exile

Hayinu Kechol'mim
We thought we were dreaming

Az yemale sechok pinu ul'shonenu rina
Then our mouth filled with laughter and cheers were on our tongue

Az yom'ru vagoyim higdil Hashem la'asot im ele
The other nations saw and said, "Hashem has done great things for them"

Higdil Hashem la'asot imanu hayinu semechim
Hashem has done great things for us, and we were very glad

Shuva Hashem et shevitenu ka'afikim banegev
Return us again to freedom, Hashem, like streams, long dry, to the Negev returning

Hazor'im bedim'a berina yiktzoru
Those who sow in tears will reap in joy

Haloch yelech uvacho nose meshech hazara
The farmer weeps when he carries the seed to the field

Bo yavo verina nose alumotav
But singing he comes back with his arms filled with grain

Tehilat Hashem yedaber pi vivarech kol basar
My mouth will speak the praise of Hashem

Shem kodsho le-olam va-ed
And all men will praise His holy Name forever

Va-anachnu nevarech ya me-ata ve-ad olam haleluya
And we will praise G-d now and forever, haleluya

Hodu leHashem ki tov ki le-olam chasdo
Praise Hashem for He is good, His kind love is always with us

Mi yemalel gevurot Hashem yashmi'a kol tehilato
Who will extol Hashem's heroic deeds or make all His praises be heard


Shir HaMaalot is sung before Grace After Meals on Shabbat and Festivals and is from Tehillim 126:1-6, 145:21, 115:18, 118:1, and 106:2

In the elaborate Temple ritual a liturgic element took place on the festival of Sukkot.  It was probably the most spectacular of all services.  The people, with palm branches and citrons in hand, marched around the altar every day of the festival and chanted the verse from the the Hallel: "We beseech You, O Hashem, save now!  We beseech You, O Hashem, make us now to prosper!" (Tehillim 118:25)

The climax of the Sukkot ritual was the ceremony of the Drawing of the Water.  During this service the Leviim chanted the fifteen pilgrimage psalms (120-134), each of which begins with the superscription "A Song of Ascents" (Shir HaMaalot).  The "accent" songs were also sung by the pilgrims when they ascended to Yerushalayim for the festival celebrations at the Temple.



  • The Harvard Hillel Sabbath Songbook
  • Jewish Worship - Abraham Millgram
  • Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts - Philip Birnbaum