Hanukkah is here. Christmas is coming. The cross-cultural lights are lit at Memorial Park. In this red-state-blue-state, micromarketing era of niche demographics, it's good to recognize common values.

One song we have in common is “Ma'or Tzur,” the Hebrew hymn known in English as “Rock of Ages.”

The hymn, possibly written in the 13th century, is traditionally associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Many Jews will sing “Ma'or Tzur” in our synagogues and in our homes.

The identical music is used in Christian churches, but with slightly different verses.

There are, however, some significant differences.

The first verse in English is:

“Rock of Ages, let our song, praise Thy saving power;

Thou, amidst the raging foes, wast our sheltering tower.

Furious they assailed us, but Thine arm availed us,

And Thy Word broke their sword, when our own strength failed us.

And Thy Word broke their sword, when our own strength failed us.”

But a stricter translation of the Hebrew has a different focus:

“O mighty stronghold of my salvation,

to praise You is a delight.

Restore my House of Prayer

and there we will bring a thanksgiving offering.

When You will have prepared the slaughter

for the blaspheming foe,

Then I shall complete with a song of hymn