A friend alerted me to a post on the website forum.otzar.net that was written this week. I have it translated below and a link to the recording of a sweet and excellently executed documentation of this tune! Enjoy and have a happy Chanukah.
Maoz Tzur – an ancient melody for the holy genius Rabbi Yaakov Ettlinger – author of “Aruch L’ner” Zt’l
An important group of cantors, musicians, first-rate musicians and knowledgeable in the field, are engaged in an important project of searching for and commemorating the authentic Jewish Hassidic poetry, preserving and renewing the ancient melodies.
As part of the project we received a lot of notes of ancient melodies and we were asked to record this melody as well.
From the many collections of notes, we chose to work on this melody in honor of Hanukkah; the piyyut “Maoz Tzur” of the “Aruch L’ner” HaGaon Rabbi Yaakov Ettlinger ztl., Who was Rabbi Dekhilat Altona in Hamburg, Germany.
At the end of the work on Sunday the first night of Chanukah, it became clear that the day was exactly the day of the Yahrzeit and great excitement gripped us.
A brief search revealed that Rabbi Yaakov Ettlinger – the “Aruch Laner” had a special connection with the days of Hanukkah,
His name alludes to a candle, and as mentioned, he ascended to heaven with the lighting of the first candle of Hanukkah!
One of the descendants said that in his house, the piyyut “Maoz Tzur Yeshuati” was sung on Chanukkah with a special melody that has been passed down from generation to generation to this day.
The well-known folk tune “Maoz Tzur” comes from foreign sources, with motifs from the Christian world, parts of a military march and mixed with German folk songs from the 15th-16th centuries.
It is possible that for this reason Rabbi Yaakov Ettlinger, being rabbi of Altona Hamburg in Germany, preferred to sing Maoz Tzur in a different melody of his own,
We thank G-d for the privilege of bringing to the audience this ancient melody, which was probably never recorded.
And more under such wonderful private supervision!
Decoding the notes, piano and musical editing – Rachel Francie
Arrangement – Benjamin Neufeld