Erev shel shoshanim, “evening of roses” or “evening of lilies” has been one of the most successful songs from Israel, with the exception of Yerushalayim shel zahav (1967), and of course Hava nagilah–which was actually composed, by Abraham Zvi Idelsohn, in pre-1948 Palestine (and that is now a movie…).

It is a love song with fairly explicit biblical references (see for example Song of Songs 14:4 for the reference to myrrh, spices, and frankincense), as well as a SLI (Song of the Land of Israel) in its agricultural references to roses and the bustan, the Middle Eastern citrus grove.

An English translation is available via HebrewSongs.com:

Evening of roses
Let’s go out to the grove
Myrrh, perfumes, and incense
Are a threshold at your feet.

The night falls slowly
A breeze of roses blows
Let me whisper a song to you quietly
A song of love.

At dawn, a dove is cooing
Your hair is filled with dew
Your lips to the morning are like a rose
I’ll pick it for myself.

The Hebrew lyrics (written by Moshe Dor, a poet, writer, and journalist born in Tel Aviv in 1932) are also available on line, via Shironet. The music was composed by Yosef Hadar (Tel Aviv 1926 – Even Yehudah 2006), the son of Polish immigrants and the author of many Hebrew songs, especially in the 1940s-1950s.

Here are some musical sources, beginning with Ha-dudaim, of course, whose 1958 version of the song, originally sung by Yaffa Yarkoni (who first recorded it in 1957), made it popular worldwide.

Israeli pop-rock-and-everything-else music icon, Arik Einstein, recorded it as well, 

A late performance of Ha-parvarim (a 1960’s duo that integrated folk guitar accompaniments and Latin American arrangements with the SLI repertoire) shows it performed along with a sing-along crowd, in the style of shirah be-tzibur, or communal singing, which characterized Jewish musical life in mandatory Palestine since before the founding of the State of Israel, and that continues to this day:

But the song has had a longstanding international recognition. See below.

Yaffa Yarkoni, who must have sung this song many a times, recorded it in Spanish:

Greek international star Nana Moskouri with Israeli-French singer Mike Brant:

Harry Belafonte (his Nava nagila is better, though, either solo or with Danny Kaye):

And Miriam Makeba:

As usual, YouTube is full of surprises. See for example Israeli performer Tal Kravitz’s “Israeli-Indian encounter” with Rajendra Prasanna, in a concert sponsored by  the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi:

But the love-theme of the roses (or lilies) can also be challenged. This is undoubtedly the case in Idan Reichel’s song, Shoshanim ‘atzuvot (Sad Roses). You can find the lyrics here.

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