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I am aware of 3 different customs of when to say An'im Zemirot on Shabbat:

  • Beginning of Shacharit, Between Bircot Hashachar and Psukei D'Zimrah
  • After Chazarat Hashat"z of Shacaharit
  • End of Musaph after Aleinu

Is there a reason behind each of these 3 customs? Why the "debate"?

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I can't weigh in on too much, but I know that the Maharal in Nesiv Ha'Avodah was very opposed to saying it at the end of davening, because the appropriate time for praises is before Shemoneh Esre (he was actually opposed to the song anyway, but was particularly bothered its placement after Shemoneh Esre) –  Matt Jul 22 at 15:30
    
@Matt - There is a practical reason for having it at the end. This way young kids can sing it. Actually "En Kelokeinu" is the 1st "straighthrough" point in davening when you can call pre-Bar Mitzvah kids. I know that's not the reason for the minhag, itself. Personally, I don't favor kids davening An'im Zemirot. Many of them can't pronounce the words correctly, and I don't think an average pre-teen boy understands the words. For that matter, most adults don't understand the words, either, so we're not much better :-) –  DanF Jul 22 at 15:45
    
@DanF, doesn't M"B permit davening in Hebrew if one doesn't understand? On a more topical note, all of my siddurim mention Shir haKavod after aleinu, while my Birnbaum machzor gives the other two positions as acceptable points. –  Noach mi Frankfurt Jul 22 at 16:42
    
@NoachmiFrankfurt, I know several Minyanim that don't recite it at all because it is Shir HaKavod, and we generally (and a child especially) are not on the level where that is appropriate. Certainly one should at least understand what he is saying, no? –  Seth J Jul 22 at 18:11
    
@SethJ (and, partially to Noach, as well) - I agree that ideally, people should undrestand what their davening. In actuality, most don't understand most of what they're saying, myself included. Yet, we fulfill the mitzvah, anyway, B"H. If comprehension were an absolute requirement, we'd be out of shul a lot sooner, I guess, or there would be a lot more shmoozing or texting :-) Noach - what gives Shir Hakavod it's special status for not being said solely based on criteria of not understanding it? –  DanF Jul 22 at 18:27

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