For the Second
night of Chanukah, let’s hear one from a largely secular and leftist
Jew like so many of my friends. Peter
Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary wrote the song in 1982 as a pacifist
response to the Lebanon War which was reflected in the
Light one candle for the terrible
sacrifice justice and freedom demand, Light one candle for the wisdom to know
when the peacemaker’s time is at hand.
It also connected
the Maccabean rebellion against the Seleucid Greek Empire from
140 to 63 BCE as a war of national liberation like contemporary
struggles in the Third World.
performance of the song was at a 1982 concert in Carnegie Hall and
included in annual Holiday concerts after that. It made its appearance on an album in
1986 on No Easy Walk to Freedom.
It was a highlight of PP&M’s 25th Anniversary concert
the same year. It was also featured two
decades later in reunion concerts broadcast on PBS. Since the death of Mary Travers,
Peter regularly performs it in solo programs.
Light One Candle may be the most broadly
popular of all more recent Chanukah songs.