Much has been said, sung, and written, about Naomi Shemer, and her 1967 musical icon, Jerusalem of Gold (Yerushalayim shel zahav).

Here are the lyrics (in an English translation by Yael Levine)

The mountain air is clear as wine
And the scent of pines
Is carried on the breeze of twilight
With the sound of bells.

And in the slumber of tree and stone
Captured in her dream
The city that sits solitary
And in its midst is a wall.

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

How the cisterns have dried
The market-place is empty
And no one frequents the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Winds are howling
And no one descends to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho.

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

But as I come to sing to you today,
And to adorn crowns to you (i.e. to tell your praise)
I am the smallest of the youngest of your children (i.e.the least worthy of doing so)
And of the last poet.

For your name scorches the lips
Like the kiss of a seraph
If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Which is all gold…

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

[Following lyrics added by N. Shemer after the end of the Six Day War in 1967]

We have returned to the cisterns
To the market and to the market-place
A ram’s horn (shofar) calls out on the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Thousands of suns shine –
We will once again descend to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho!

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

In a 2004 article reflecting on Naomi Shemer’s death, Israeli political scientist, politician, columnist and cultural critic at large, Meron Benvenisti, highlighted the role of music in the early generations of Israelis, with a specific focus on the Songs of the Land of Israel (shire eretz yisrael), a repertoire that integrated (and continues to integrate today) Zionist themes (and dreams) such as the descriptions of the Land of Israel itself and its new native people, with the political realities as they developed since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, and especially the consequences of war. Melodically, this genre resulted in an eclectic repertoire.

Here’s Benvenisti’s article:

View this document on Scribd

Listen, as an example, to Naomi Shemer’s Lu yehi, written after the Yom Kippur War of 1973:

[youtube http://youtu.be/_Ru-ced6v20]

And then compare it to its globalized model, The Beatles’ Let It Be.

[youtube http://youtu.be/ajCYQL8ouqw]
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