“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well,” wrote Antoine De Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince. This quote encapsulates the life and music of Baht Rivka Whitten.
Israeli-born Baht Rivka is well acquainted with the desert, as she, her husband and children serve in full-time ministry, watering weary hearts in the thirsty land of the Negev Desert in southern Israel. Her music takes the listener on an exhilarating journey through the desert drawing from the deep wells of ancient Israeli melodies and combining them with modern sounds and rhythms from around the world. Rivka’s voice carries an anointing which can well be described as a voice of one crying in the desert.
“The inspiration for my music comes primarily from Isaiah 55,” she explains; “My desire is for my people (secular Israel) to hear and be moved by the powerful and life-altering Word of God… that as they hear my music, they would be drawn to the wells of salvation, that they would be watered and brought to Life.”
Baht Rivka’s first album title, “Lazman Hazeh” (For Such A Time as This), begins with the beautiful traditional blessing of “Shehechianu”. Next, “HaBen Yakir Li”, a classic Israeli song from Jeremiah 31:20 takes the listener into a rhythmic groove following the moving acapella solo intro. “Alee Lach”, from Isaiah 40:9 expresses the emphatic declaration of Good News to Zion. It will have you up on your feet for sure but wait! Keep your shoes off for the classic “Shabechi Yerushalayim” from Psalm 147. This one will transport you to new heights of ancient Hebrew-style worship.
The album simmers on with the royal sound of Israel’s National Anthem “HaTikvah”. Rhythmic strings, plaintive violin and swirling vocals grace this rendition with Baht Rivka’s unique signature powerfully expressing her love for her homeland. The beautiful traditional Shabbat melody “Shalom Aleichem” will take you to the modern streets of Jerusalem on a late Shabbat Eve, contemporary style, and “Kes HaRachamim” directly into the throne room of God where His mercy and love will move you to worship. Closing the album are two creative takes on the familiar songs, “Hiney Ma Tov” and “Eretz Zavat Chalav”.
Baht Rivka’s second album, “Tzama Lecha Nafshi” (My Soul Thirsts for You) draws the listener into deep meditation and prayer as her songs evoke the refreshing and cleansing streams of the Negev desert.
Whitten relates her experience making this recording; “I was ready to go to the studio with a bunch of songs to record, but on my way I felt a strong urge from the Lord to change course, to do something unique that might touch secular, new age Israelis whose misdirected longings are often met with music. That is, together with studio musicians, improvise and record music in ancient middle eastern style, and then go into the recording booth and just worship the Lord. No plan, just what ever came to me in worship. Then we would place the spoken word of God in Hebrew on top of the recorded melodies so they could be heard loud and clear. These are simply spontaneous songs of intercession from the depths of my heart, interwoven with scripture.”
“We tour worldwide”, Whitten says, “but my heart is predominately for my people here in Israel. I look for any opportunity to reach out to the lost in song, especially at secular venues like schools and community centers in war-ridden areas of Israel, as well as holocaust survivor ceremonies and hospitals, where we give our CDs away at no cost.”
“People at these places often approach me saying that they are deeply touched by my music, and ask me where I learned to sing,” she goes on to say. “The truth is that I have never studied voice. I never even sang that well growing up. Though I was in choir all throughout grade school, I repeatedly tried out for solos, but I was not chosen for even one. Later, when I heard about the truth of Yeshua and gave my heart to Him, something happened. It’s like He zapped my vocal chords, and all of a sudden this booming powerful voice came forth! But these songs I sing don’t really come from my mouth, they come from a deep-seated gratitude, from the most inward parts of me. I have been redeemed from a sinful and rebellious life by His remarkable grace. I simply cannot do anything with this voice but worship Him. It’s all for Him and it’s all FROM Him”.
Baht Rivka’s hope is that when people hear her music, “they will sense the presence of the Lord and experience His Liberty – that they would hear the truth and the truth would set them free to sing, shout, leap, dance… Lazman Hazeh (For Such a Time as This).”
Click below to watch a music video (in Hebrew) for Baht Rivkah’s song “HaBen Yakir Li”.