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Hanukkah Songs: Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages)

All About the Hanukkah Song Maoz Tzur

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Hanukkah Songs: Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages)

Maoz Tzur is a popular Hanukkah song

Getty Images/Jeff Spielman

Maoz Tzur, which means "Rock of Ages" in Hebrew, is a popular Hanukkah song that is often sung after reciting the Hanukkah blessings and lighting the Menorah. It is also a favorite song in synagogue religious schools, where children will sometimes put on a holiday performance for their parents and family in celebration of Hanukkah.

Maoz Tzur is a liturgical poem called a piyyut. The first letters of the first five stanzas form an acrostic, meaning they spell the poet's name, Mordecai, in Hebrew (mem, reish, dalet, kaf, yud). The poem was written some 800-900 years ago in Europe and is usually sung to the tune of an old German folk song. Nowadays many Jewish communities think of Maoz Tzur as a traditional Hanukkah song.

Maoz Tzur recounts the many times that God has delivered the Jewish people from their foes. The first stanza, which is the one that is usually sung on Hanukkah, thanks God for this protection. The following stanzas talk about the Israelite exodus from Egypt as well as liberation from Babylonia, Persia and Syria. The fifth verse retells the story of Hanukkah, saying: "The Greeks gathered against me...they broke down the walls of my towers, and defiled all the oils. But from the last remaining flask a miracle was wrought." Altogether Maoz Tzur has six stanzas.

Maoz Tzur Lyrics

To listen to the melody for Maoz Tzur as well as other Hanukkah songs, check out: Hanukkah Songs.

Stanza 1: Transliteration
Ma-oz Tzur Y'shu-a-ti
Le-cha Na-eh L'sha-bei-ach
Ti-kon Beit T'fi-la-ti
V'sham To-da N'za-bei-ach
L'eit Ta-chin Mat-bei-ach
Mi-tzar Ha-mi-ga-bei-ach
Az Eg-mor B'shir Miz-mor
Cha-nu-kat Ha-miz-bei-ach
Az Eg-mor B'shir Miz-mor
Cha-nu-kat Ha-miz-bei-ach

Stanza 1: Popular English Translation (Rock of Ages)
Rock of ages, let our song
Praise Your saving power;
You, amid the raging foes,
Were our sheltering tower.
Furious they assailed us,
But Your arm availed us,
And Your word,
Broke their sword,
When our own strength failed us.

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