It's The Festival Of Lights
by Karl Hitzemann
To help you honor Hanukkah this year we created a song called "It's The Festival Of Lights." Not only is it filled with interesting facts and imagery about Hanukkah (The Festival of Lights), it also allows you the opportunity to use handbells. The song begins in a minor key with two soloists each singing a verse. You could do it this way, or just have one soloist, or any combination of singers for that matter. The middle section of the song is major, then the minor section returns to end the piece.
The handbells begin in measure three. So your players will need to listen carefully to the opening two measures so that they get a feel for the tempo. For your convenience, a PDF of the extracted handbell part is available on our web site.
The recorded accompaniment for this song features a piano, upright bass, guitar, clarinet, flute, and strings. On the repeat at measure 19, a solo violin enters (masterfully played by Zachary DePue). It makes for a wonderful background for your singers and handbell players. Note that on the recording for this issue, we've included a full performance track and a track with guide bells. If you would prefer to sing and play to an accompaniment with no bells at all, we have provided such a track on our web site. You'll also find a full track with no solos, in case that works better for you. (See page 77 for details.)
Referring to the lyrics of the song, be sure to explain to your singers that "shalom" is a term of greeting or farewell and can mean "peace," "be well," "be safe," etc. And "nes gadol hayah sham" means "a great miracle happened there." It also refers to the Hebrew letters n, g, h, and s, that are found on the sides of a dreidel.
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.