E Hō Mai
E Hō Mai ka ‘ike mai luna mai ē
O nā mea huna no'eau O nā mele ē
E hō mai
E hō mai
E hō mai ē
Grant us knowledge from above
The knowledge hidden in the chants
E hō mai = Grant Us.
Ka ‘ike = Knowledge
Luna = Up, above.
O nā mea = The things
Huna = Hidden things
Mele = Song, chants
Song's Place in Culture
This ancient oli was composed by Edith Kekuhikuhipuʻuoneoʻnaalikiokohala Kanākaʻol, known as Aunty Edith Kanaka’ole. She was a Kumu hula master and Hawaiian cultural and language expert. This oli was composed for her hula troupe, Hālau O Kekuhi. Edith Kekuhikuhipu’uoneo’naali’iokohala Kanaka’ole was a Kumu Hula (master hula teacher), respected Hawaiian kupuna (elder), and teacher of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The chant was originally performed by students at the beginning of class to request knowledge and wisdom from the ancestral deities to accomplish the task at hand. It is also now used as a way of entering the mind into a state of sacred ceremony. We are calling upon our spirit guides, angels, and ancestors above to share wisdom with us to guide us on our path.
According to the Protect Kaho’olawe Ohana Organisation, this chant/prayer is recited to allow the mind and consciousness to move from the mundane space to the sacred. It can be utilized for personal purpose or before entering into ceremony. Today, this oli is commonly used at the start of an event or small gathering to focus a groupʻs energies and ultimately carry out the kuleana (responsibility) they have undertaken. It is recommended that haumana (students) use this chant to help them seek knowledge and clear their minds of any negativity. The song is performed while standing, often before a performance to ask for guidance and wisdom in conveying their message. It is sung in no particular formation, and is often performed off centre stage. It can be viewed by the audience. The language used is ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, the official language of Hawaii.
Analysis of the Song
The chant is made up 3 lines, based around a single note. There is a minor third at the start of the second line, and the three repeated “E hō mai” at the end of the chant.
The chant is sung 3 times, with each repetition starting a semitone higher by sliding up on the ‘ē’. The number 3 is of cultural significance in Hawaiian Culture. In the post-missionary era, it is seen to represent the Holy Trinity. It may also refer to the three major groups of deities: the four gods (akua), many lesser gods associated with certain profession (kupuna), and guardian spirits associatd with particular families (‘aumakua). Chants such as E Hō Mai are sung three times, whereas songs (Mele) that accompany dances (Hula) are often made of three verses, repeated twice.
This chant is sung without accompaniment, either as a group or individually. It is traditionally sung without harmonies; however, harmonies can be added. When sung as a group, eye contact is used to signal moving on to the next note during slide at the end of the chant.
Due to the highly spiritual nature of this oli, performances vary in tempo, length of syllables, vibrato used, and amount of vocal ‘cracks’. These voice cracks are intended to take the singer and listener to a different spiritual realm, and reflect the spiritual connectedness of the performer to their akua (gods) or kupuna (ancestors).
The chant is sung in ʻŌlelo HawaiʻI, the Hawaiian language.