About the Song
"Ma'oz Tzur" (Hebrew: מָעוֹז צוּר, romanized: Māʾōz Ṣūr) is a Jewish liturgical poem or piyyut. It is written in Hebrew, and is sung on the holiday of Hanukkah, after lighting the festival lights. The hymn is named for its Hebrew incipit, which means "Strong Rock (of my Salvation)" and is a name or epithet for God in Judaism. It is thought to have been written sometime in the 13th century, although recent research suggests the 12th century. It was originally sung only at home, but has been used in the synagogue since the 19th century or earlier. In more recent years, of its six stanzas sometimes only the first stanza is sung (or the first and fifth).
My Refuge, my Rock of Salvation! 'Tis pleasant to sing Your praises.
Let our house of prayer be restored. And there we will offer You our thanks.
When You will have slaughtered the barking foe.
Then we will celebrate with song and psalm the altar's dedication.
My soul was sated with misery, my strength was spent with grief
They embittered my life with hardship when enslaved under the rule of Egypt
But God with His mighty power brought out His treasured people;
While Pharaoh's host & followers sank like a stone into the deep.
He brought me to His holy abode, even there, I found no rest
The oppressor came and exiled me because I served strange gods
And drank poisonous wine yet scarcely had I gone into exile
When Babylon fell & Zerubbabel took charge within seventy years I was saved.
The Agagite,[son of Hammedatha, plotted to cut down the lofty fir
But it proved a snare to him & his insolence was silenced
You raised the head of the Benjamite, but the enemy's name you blotted out
His numerous sons & his household you hanged upon the gallows.
The Greeks gathered against me, in days of the Hasmoneans
They broke down the walls of my towers, and defiled all the oil
But from the last remaining flask a miracle was wrought for the Jews
Therefore the sages of the day ordained these eight for songs of praise.
O bare Your holy arm and bring the end [of] salvation
Wreak vengeance upon the wicked nation, on behalf of your faithful servants
For deliverance has too long been delayed & the evil days are endless
O reject the enemy into the shadows of idolatry & set up for us the seven shepherds.