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    Un’tanneh Tokef – a new translation

    A new translation by Rabbi Raymond Apple of the solemn High Holy day prayer

    Our prayer of sanctification to You we bring –
    To You, O God, Eternal King.

    We celebrate the greatness of the day of awe,
    Reverential and solemn evermore,
    When lovingly established is Your throne
    Where You reign in truth that is Your own.

    You judge and decide, You know and reveal;
    You write down our deeds, our fate You then seal.
    All is remembered, man’s destiny planned;
    All is now signed with every one’s hand.

    The great shofar sounds, its echo resounds;
    Quiet voices are heard, angels quake at Your word.
    The day of judgment is nigh, for the hosts also there on high.

    On earth each one’s life, one of a flock
    Passes for judgment, their fate You then lock.
    Each one is counted, You then fix their span:
    The destiny is decided of every man.

    On Rosh HaShanah is it writ, on Yom Kippur its seals fit:

    Who’ll be conceived and who shall be born;
    Who shall live, who shall see no more dawn;
    Whose life is prolonged and whose shall be shorter,
    Who dies by fire, who dies by water;
    Who by the sword, who by wild beast accursed –
    Who from great hunger, who from deep thirst;
    Who by an earthquake, who by plagued bones;
    Who by harsh strangling, who by hard stones.

    Who shall have rest, who be forlorn;
    Who shall have quiet, who shall be torn;
    Who shall have ease, who shall have pain;
    Who shall be poor, for whom riches’ gain;
    Who shall be low, who then raised up –

    But penance, prayer and charity’s sup
    Can sweeten the evil that is their life’s cup.

    God, just as Your name, so is Your praise,
    Slow to anger, quick to forgive –
    You seek not from the sinner that life he shall give,
    But that he turn from his sin and then he shall live.
    To the day of his death You wait for him – steady –
    The day he repents, Your acceptance is ready.

    In truth, as Creator You know them all well;
    Their nature You know, You know if they fell.
    Their origin dust, to dust they return:
    At life’s risk comes the bread for which they so yearn.

    Like a potsherd that breaks, like grass that shall die;
    Like flowers that fade, like shadows that fly;
    Like a cloud that will pass, a wind that will soar;
    Like dust that will float, like a dream that flies o’er.

    But You alone, O living King –
    The Eternal Lord of every thing –
    Your years have no end, without limit Your days;
    Your glory past measure, Your nature and ways.
    Your Name is befitting, Your great Name Divine:
    As Your name is upon us, our destinies shine.

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