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Local Nazarene folklore has it that women used to sing this song when they bade their men farewell before they went away to serve in the ranks of the Ottoman army. According to Palestinian poet Tawfiq Zayyad, this song dates from before the latter days of Ottoman rule in Palestine (1876 -1918). I recognised the importance of this song when an elderly Palestinian man in Dubai (originally from Shefa 'Amer, near Nazareth) approached me after one of my performances there in 2000 and said that he had not heard this song for at least sixty years.

This particular arrangement involves an ornamented modal recitation, which is unaccompanied save for a background vocal drone. It was principally inspired by a visit I paid to St. Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church in Nazareth during one of my childhood summers there. I was mesmerised by the Eastern Christian chanting that I heard, and it had such striking similarities with Muslim religious chanting. My rendition pays tribute to the historically ecumenical tradition of Nazareth and is an attempt to keep this tradition going, in increasingly difficult times.

The 'meadow' referred to in this song is the fertile plain of Marj Ibn 'Aamer, which stretches from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, and separates the mountain ranges of Karmel and Nablus from those of Galilee.

lyrics

The Nazarene women crossed the meadow of Ibn 'Aamer.
Wailing and crying as they went.
Some carried children in their wombs;
some were breastfeeding;
Some were virgins not ready to yield
up their treasure…
As cowards might yield up their daughters.
Will anyone help us, they cried?
Will anyone relieve our pain?
Will anyone share our burden?
So heavy it slides off our backs!

credits

from Sprinting Gazelle - Palestinian songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora, released February 6, 2006
Traditional Palestinian, Arr. Reem Kelani.

Vocals: Reem Kelani
Backing vocals: Christopher Somes-Charlton & Reem Kelani

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about

Reem Kelani London, UK

Reem Kelani is a Palestinian musician born in Britain & brought up in Kuwait. Her debut album “Sprinting Gazelle: Palestinian songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora” was released in 2006 to critical acclaim. Her next album "Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle" will be released in March 2016. Reem wrote & presented “Songs for Tahrir” for BBC Radio 4 on the music of the Egyptian Revolution. ... more

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