||Manuscript piyyutim. Piyytim are versified prayers, often moving, frequently not part of the regular liturgy. These piyyutim are written in clear, square, unvocalized Hebrew letters. The text varies between one and two columns. In a small number of instances elongated letters are used to complete lines. Each piyyut begins “piyyut siman” and then in many but not all instances gives a name or phrase, for example, piyyut sim. Abraham hazak or piyyut sim. Moses hazak le-kaddish. Some piyytim have a refrain, for example, piyyut Zecariah “Tamid Yigsal HaShem.”
Piyyut are lyrical compositions intended to embellish an obligatory prayer or any other religious ceremony, communal or private. In a wider sense, piyyut is the totality of compositions composed in various genres of Hebrew liturgical poetry from the first centuries of the Common Era until the beginning of the Haskalah. In ancient times, the piyyutim were intended to replace most of the set versions of prayer and to serve as substitutes. They ensured variety of the obligatory prayers, mainly on Sabbaths and festivals. In a later period, when the prayers became fixed, sections of piyyut were interspersed in certain places within the set pattern of the prayers. Naturally, most of the very extensive piyyut literature is devoted to the adornment of the major holy days. However, during the early oriental (eastern) period of the history of the piyyut, liturgical compositions were also produced in great abundance for regular Sabbaths, for simple fast days, and even for weekdays. Obligatory prayers were also embellished with special sets of piyyutim for private occasions, such as weddings, circumcisions, and mourning.