Not only is Adon Olam one of the most well-known Jewish prayers, but it is also one of the most frequently repeated parts of the liturgy. Depending on the community, it is included in the siddur at the beginning of daily morning service, at the conclusion of Mussaf on Shabbat and festivals, as part of the prayers recited before bedtime and in the liturgy recited  by, or in the presence of, one who is dying.

The prayer opens with the words “Adon olam, asher malach,” “Eternal Master, Who reigned supreme.” Verse after verse beautifully conveys God’s majesty, declares the constancy of the Divine in the world and expresses the belief in God’s intimate interaction with the individual. Its underlying theme of belief in God (concluding with the beautiful phrase “Ah-donai lee v’lo ee’rah,” “The Lord is with me, I will not fear) is precisely why it is included in so many parts of the liturgy. It can serve as both a source of inspiration and comfort. 

The origin of Adon Olam is unclear. Records of it in prayer books go back to at least the 15th century. Many attribute its composition to the 11th century Spanish poet and philosopher, Solomon ibn Gabriol. Adon Olam is a poem set in a meter of eight syllables. Because of its meter, it is said that Adon Olam can be sung to almost any tune. There are, however, traditional tunes, a few examples of which may be heard by clicking on the links below. 

Adon Olam by Dudu Fischer

French Sephardic Tune
“Happy” Tune

Copyright © 2016 NJOP. All rights reserved.