The Fast of Ab is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, when we commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the exile of the Jewish people, and numerous massacres. Starting on the evening before, for a 24 hour period, we do not eat or drink, deprive ourselves from any physical pleasure, we do not wear leather shoes, and take no baths. For most of the day (until the afternoon), we do not even great each other, as a sign of deep mourning. Instead of a greeting, we tell each other "Murir Habemos" ('We Shall Die'). Remarkably, the tunes that are sung in the Spanish-and Portuguese Jewish community during this day are among the oldest music in our liturgy, some even from the 16th Century. And they are also among the most beautiful melodies. The service is conducted in almost complete darkness, with only candles or small flashlights. The very first part of the liturgy is sung by the cantor: Psalm 137, also known as "By the Rivers of Babylon". Especially the last verse is deeply upsetting.
On the Eve of Tish'a beAb, before the reading of the Book of Lamentations (see below) the following dirges (laments) are sung:
First, but only if Tish'a beAb falls right after Shabbat, "Ani haGeber":
Followed by "Le-Mi Ebkeh" (For What Shall I Weep?):
We then read the Book of Lamentations. Here below are links with recordings: