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C hapter

1
Before the Church:
We cannot start seriously to discuss the
music of the Christian church without first
looking at what is known of the music of the
ancient world, and particularly the music
of ancient Israel. Just as, for Christians, the
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The Jewish New Testament cannot be understood fully

Before
without a knowledge of the Old Testament,

Musical Tradition in the same way the music of Christianity
and the church cannot properly be

the
understood without at least some knowledge
of the music of the ancient Jewish people.

Church: The Jewish Musical Tradition
We start with a major disadvantage. For
Jubal… was the father of all obvious reasons, we possess no recorded
such as handle the harp and music from two millennia ago; however,
nor do we have any contemporary notated
organ. music that might give some indication of
Genesis 4:21, kjv how ancient music sounded. The nineteenth-
century German musicologist Ambros
bewailed the fact that “we did not have the
opportunity of listening to [ancient music]
Left: Detail of King David playing his harp, from The Adoration of
the Holy Trinity (1511), also known as the Landauer Altarpiece, for even one minute in order to be able to
by German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), now in the judge its sound”. There are a few written
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. David’s harp is, of records concerning music, but apart from
course, not depicted with historical accuracy.
Below: A nineteenth-century Bible illustrator’s conception of the silver these we are reliant on interpreting the
trumpets ( khatsotsrah ) blown by Jewish priests in biblical times. evidence derived from stone, clay, metal,
and bone artefacts
discovered by
archaeologists.
Until very recently,
most historians
have based their
researches into the
music of ancient
Israel almost solely
upon the written
evidence available
in the Jewish
Scriptures. However,
modern scholarship
has widened this
methodology, by
first investigating
and interrogating
the evidence of
archaeology and then
allowing the fruits
of that research to

Church: The Jewish Musical Tradition it is difficult to imagine a tranquil past In addition to the biblical texts. In our world of aural Hebrew Bible. Nineveh c. linguistic misunderstandings and called the magrephah. even for relatively prisoners from Israel/Palestine playing the lyre (British Museum). contemporary listeners. where even in writer Jerome (c. which was allegedly misinterpretations were introduced – for capable of producing a thousand tones and example in the third or second century bc. music – not least by the all-pervasive voice While musicologists generally agree that of the muezzin. 347–420) in the early the depths of the countryside we can be fifth century and known as the Vulgate. of ancient musical instruments. of being heard more than ten miles away in when the Hebrew of the Jewish Scriptures the city of Jericho. somewhere at the roots of modern Jewish In any event. while the Jewish woman’s ankles could exert a significant holy writings known as the Mishnah and musical impact on listeners. the Talmud. a few where the blasting of a goat’s horn or Roman writers shed some light on Jewish the soft rustling of ornaments worn on a music of the Roman period. Despite the researches of seekers after Right: Relief from Sennacherib’s palace. translators often 13 but nor can we recreate with any accuracy confused the names of musical instruments. for instance by Islamic in King Solomon’s famed Temple. and incomplete. experienced by. as these much more shaky is our knowledge of. calling the faithful to prayer the ancient Jewish musical tradition lies from the minaret of the mosque. the social and psychological situations By contrast the later Latin translation of the C h r i s t i a n M u s i c : A G lo b a l H i s t o r y Before of ancient times. In this do we have no means of reproducing translation. recent composers such as Bach and Beethoven we are still far from confident in understanding exactly how their musical sounds. is the assaulted by the roar of helicopters and jet considerably more consistent in its naming planes and the dull rumble of road traffic. How However. they the biblical texts. and in later biblical translations 12 acoustically the music of ancient Israel. even at early mention an instrument found in Jerusalem stages. As one musicologist has was translated into Greek in the version pointed out. since much of the musical synagogue music. the harmonies made by King David failed to have been influenced over many on his “harp” or the sound of the musicians succeeding centuries. though not always of ancient Israel relied almost exclusively on great historical accuracy. until recently centuries ad.) qualify and interpret the evidence of the Old Above: The Idolatry of Solomon by the Italian artist Sebastiano Conca Testament (and the New). since they were relatively insulated compositions were originally performed and both from non-Jewish communities and how they might have sounded to. such as the Syriac Peshitta. 700 bc. though with little historical verisimilitude. the problem is that not only we know as the Septuagint (lxx). depicting “authentic” performance. dating to the second to sixth As we have mentioned. (1676/80–1764) illustrates music-making at the decadent court of Solomon’s later years. offer several descriptions most scholars writing on the music of relevant to this music. for Jewish communities can hardly have instance. some ethnomusicologists experience of the ancient world was never have ventured to suggest that modern entrusted to writing but passed on solely by Jewish communities in Iraq (ancient word of mouth. However. and been from the Western musical tradition. (For instance. we must resign ourselves to Babylon) and Yemen may have preserved the fact that our knowledge of ancient music something of the actual ancient Jewish will almost certainly remain fragmentary . overseen by the Christian contamination and abuse. this seems unlikely.

Asia Khalil 1 Minor and Greece. a military victory. made of reed or and blown to summon the Jewish people English made similar anachronistic and King David’s procession to conduct the bone. instrument known as the ’ûgab. it is still today unclear including the sack of Jerusalem. no more vestiges of older The Hebrew word khalil means a type of pipe instruments exist” – a statement modern – not a laterally held flute-like instrument archaeologists have refuted. the “viol”. and of the modern clarinet or oboe respectively). despite these problems of connection with celebrations surrounding translating obscure Hebrew words for the anointing of a new king and following musical instruments (the Greek Septuagint. and órganon). double. during linguistic errors. wind instruments of the ancient Near East. the Hebrew minnîm There remain many difficulties in (ruled c. with a thin body and wide bell- Old Testament translators. interpreted the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran. gives detailed Two Renaissance writers were the first early Church Fathers. kin´yra. 1333–1324 bc).2 where God instructs trumpets of alarm… ”. For instance. apocryphal texts and some writings of the This instrument is mentioned thirty-one bc and the first century ad. John Wycliffe’s translation sacred Ark of the Covenant into the city of with a single or double reed (like the the transport of the sacred Ark of the 14 imported a “hurdy-gurdy” into Luke Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:16–28). celebrating Titus’s victories. together at religious festivals. This trumpet. and vivid descriptions of the 288 musicians at burials. and other carefully. Rome. subject for the next three centuries. and in time of war. but reinforced the Christian “Old Testament”. From this time the khatsotsrah probably about 40 centimetres (1 cubit/15 Jerusalem. and the ’ûgab as the “viola da musical instruments mentioned in the Left: Relief from the Arch of Titus. and it may have of the ancient Hebrew words for instruments HHMusical Instruments of the Bible sounded similar to the celebrated trumpets with the names of instruments from his discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun own time. include Jewish and Christian Khatsotsrah originating between the last two centuries the seventeenth-century musical instruments. – and appears in the Old Testament in However. It provides. the Old Testament the Jerusalem Temple “orchestra” – which in its original Hebrew remains the single was supposed to include between two and most important written source for music twelve of these instruments – and also at in ancient Israel. introduced the “fiddle”. Its design may have been borrowed chronological fallacy by translating a number from the Egyptians. prevailing misplaced sole reliance on written sources by asserting that “in Palestine. 15 15:25 (c. including rules “for the trumpets of summons and the Church: The Jewish Musical Tradition in more modern times systematically to been able usefully to compare evidence Numbers 10:2–10. the music of the ancient Jewish Temple in utilized archaeological evidence gained from (v. one of Authorized (King James) Version (1611) Other useful textual sources. Roman soldiers are depicted carrying off loot from Herod’s Temple. site of The second early modern writer on Jewish nebel is another instrument much argued discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. was reserved for the sole use of priests inches) long. Unfortunately his flawed precedent Bible. for example. like instrument could produce a strong. on pilgrimages. provided will look at the main musical instruments more accurate descriptions of musical mentioned in the Jewish Scriptures – the instruments of Bible times. gamba”. The early translators of the Bible into whom the chronicler mentions as leading an oboe-like instrument. Sumeria and Ugarit to throw light on the two trumpets of hammered silver. and use it indisputable that the khatsotsrah is a from Mantua in Italy. he introduced a like end. and the Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 5:12–14). Some Covenant. The apocalyptic War Scroll. music. 1571–1621). blasts. including the was followed by most other writers on the how to translate the word for the Hebrew menorah (left) and khatsotsrah trumpets. niv). However. Israel. staccato C h r i s t i a n M u s i c : A G lo b a l H i s t o r y Before (1560) mentions the “dulcimer”. For instance. the German Protestant musician over. Avraham Portaleone (1547–1612). some animal sacrifices. and featured both in psaltérion. Bearing in mind these difficulties. the Geneva Bible – who performed at the dedication of King reed instruments were the most common sustained sound and also shorter. 2.3 survey ancient Jewish music. names the “organ”. The khalil seems to have been . Scholars have also times in the Old Testament. The khalil is also linked for instance. like many of the early the numerous excavations in the Near East. attempted to research musical culture of ancient Israel and have them for calling the community together…” trumpet made of beaten or hammered silver.4 It is important to Portaleone translated anachronistically as understanding the Hebrew terms for “clavichord”. Jewish ritual lament. A Jewish about music from parallel cultures such as the great Jewish leader Moses to “make The description in Numbers 10 renders doctor. while the Below: Cave IV at Qumran. we Michael Praetorius (c. or sometimes of bronze or copper. translates the single Hebrew with prophetic ecstasy and was used during word kinnôr variously as kithára. 1385). William Tyndale (1526) musicians – most importantly trumpeters musicologists believe double-pipe.

. 2 Chronicles The kinnôr is first mentioned earl in (red sandalwood. dating back to 1920–1900 bc. and is known from the Old 2:8).5 kinnôr was usually made of almug timber Temple (1 Chronicles 15:28. Egypt. and were bc. Some of and singing. it is generally agreed with diverging arms. The lyre soon became the kinnôr to the melancholic King Saul for representations of Standard Version (nrsv) dominant instrument of the ancient Near its therapeutic effect (1 Samuel 16:16). 29:25).150 people he expelled from The precise meaning of the word nebel Judah. the kinnôr Testament to have been played during six and ten strings (fewer than with which the ancient Jewish C h r i s t i a n M u s i c : A G lo b a l H i s t o r y Before – a type of lyre – is mentioned forty. from Lachish in Israel by the Assyrian king resonant sound. Sennacherib boasted that Nebel among the 200. Archaeologists have the famous fresco from a nineteenth-century discovered many ancient cymbals in ancient bc tomb at Beni-hasan in Egypt. in two sizes: between hasan mural” depicts a relatively small 7 and 12 centimetres in diameter. and of Israel/Palestine in Although kinnôr has been variously Israel/Palestine. 2 Samuel 6:5. he captured King Hezekiah’s “male has still not been soundly established. There is religious praise.9 Church: The Jewish Musical Tradition dating to the eighteenth century bc found is famously mentioned as playing the than thirty visual The New Revised at Mari in Syria. from King David “the harp of David”. is referring here to both types One well-known representation of cymbal common in the region – of a lyre-player appears on a jar dating cymbals held horizontally with a handle and to 1150–1000 bc excavated at Megiddo in struck lightly. instruments of the ancient Jews.and sin-offerings made at the the ram’s-horn trumpet discussed below. some loud clashing cymbals!”. Job 30:31. With somewhere between (niv and other modern translations). some “Praise him with clanging particular. and 2 Chronicles 5:12). These instruments were used Left: This Palestinian lyre-player. and a lyre-player is also pictured on and struck forcibly. the lyre in ancient translates Psalm 150:5: East in general. the lute. translated kymbalon the Old Testament (for example in Isaiah and cymbala in the Septuagint and Vulgate 5:12. Psalm 33:2. be related to the place-name “Kinnereth” From the time of King Solomon the Jewish at the burnt. and instrument (around 50 x 30 centimetres) held between 3 and 6 centimetres in diameter. it could be played historian Josephus agrees. depicts three captive Hebrew lyre-players.8 Suggestions have varied as widely as the lyre. and the bagpipe! The Hebrew Msiltayim (or Zelzelim) term nebel occurs twenty-eight times in This Hebrew word. and has commonly been known as asymmetrical. Above: A Jewish coin minted during the Bar Kokhba (or Second transfer of the Ark of the Covenant. distinguish the khatsotsrah from the shophar. The msiltayim are described 16 Kinnôr Genesis to stand for the craft of musicians imported from Lebanon (2 Chronicles in 1 Chronicles 15:19 as bronze cymbals 17 One of the most significant musical (Genesis 4:21). affords rare visual at the Jewish Temple (Ezra 3:10) – at the evidence of musical practice in ancient Israel/Palestine. as well as by prostitutes either with a plectrum or stating that “the cymbals archaeological evidence for this instrument and during ecstatic prophesying (Genesis by the hand alone. were broad and large the from as early as the mid-third millennium 31:27. It horizontally by the performer so it could is suggested these two sizes represent the be played while simultaneously walking two types mentioned in Psalm 150. in mourning. Isaiah Archaeologists have instruments. Israel/Palestine. 1 Samuel 10:56). and retained this pre-eminence translated in the Septuagint and the symmetrical. others cymbals. the Jewish monarchy. two times in the Old Testament. and in the nebel). This “Beni. A seventh-century bc relief the excavated cymbals which have survived from Nineveh. is generally agreed to mean “cymbals”. and female musicians”.7 others with parallel arms. Sennacherib. (Joshua 19:35). depicting a five- dedication of King Solomon’s Temple and stringed broad lyre. family celebrations. part of a painting from a tomb at (along with others) by the Levites officiating Beni Hasan. at the Jewish) Revolt against the Romans (ad 132–36). respectively. The word kinnôr is thought to today to have been a form of lyre. showing prisoners taken intact have been tested and produce a broad. The young David discovered more made of bronze”. praise him with during the Iron Age and the period of Vulgate. suggesting that the psalmist onwards. or possibly juniper) 5:13. and cymbals held vertically Israel. and it is also mentioned in a letter 23:16.

was struck with the hand. fingers. though Josephus usefully information about the shophar. these bells was said to be pleasant. these references is to Miriam. and the Septuagint translates while every fifty years it announced the it as the kithara. With its thicker strings and deeper Israel as it was played as a solo instrument. Though not exclusively a been suggested the nebel is a form of lyre fifteenth-century bc Assyrian ambassador bc images excavated at Mari in Syria and in woman’s instrument. as the toph – a type of drum – is mentioned as he goes in and out of the Lord’s presence. and even a drum with a circular wooden frame about restored synagogue at Masada. with more and and a statue of an ancient high priest from depictions from ninth-century bc Carchemish have played the toph as a solo instrument. the tambourine but without the metal jingles. Israel. Old Testament. the blowing of that the ’ûgab was a type of long. the organon. and at Yom Kippur to mark Church: The Jewish Musical Tradition 2 Chronicles 20:28. Such of the Red Sea after the Exodus from Egypt the Hellenistic period. C h r i s t i a n M u s i c : A G lo b a l H i s t o r y Before the Ark of the Covenant. and the psalmos. Although most a curved horn covered in silver at Yom Kippur which the player is a woman. bells fastened to the bottom of the Temple or ram (never a cow). probably made of leather or observance of Yom Kippur (Leviticus 25:9). Amos 6:5). In later times. twenty-two of which are also associated tone. controversy about the precise meaning of the 2 Samuel 15:10). and the kinnôr. Toph robe whenever he enters the Holy Place to distinguishes between the nebel. apparently following the Hebrews’ successful traversing harps in this region dating to earlier than Such functional warning bells were untwisted after immersion in hot water. to introduce the Sabbath. “moaning” – evidently used to give different 25 to 30 centimetres in diameter. in 2005. from the late sixth century the shophar is by far the most frequently religious use increased because the Jews 18 plucked by hand (1 Kings 10:12. It occurs only four times in the on the feast of Rosh Hashanah (New Year). others regard the ’ûgab as a purely symbolic After the destruction of Herod’s Temple instrument. the end of the day of fasting. sister of Moses. at four the and in ecstatic prophesying (1 Chronicles high priest’s robe. only women seem to peculiar to the Near East. however. the nebel was possibly deployed as Shophar legislature and court between 191 bc and with the kinnôr. The toph plectrum. 1 Samuel 10:5). ad 358 – was located. The shophar featured at the Jewish The membrane. such as was also found in ancient Egypt to wherever the Sanhedrin – the Jewish and Sumeria. Nehemiah 12:27. as well as at the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant. in five of If he wears it. while its hearers as supernatural (Exodus 19:13). he will not die. and the bells will tinkle twelve strings and was played with the from Qumran provide fuller descriptions. its was constructed from almug-wood and Temple orchestra. a “shout”. 1 Samuel 13:3. Today the shophar is still blown in the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem following the 28:33–34 and 39:25–26 and refers to the gold The shophar is the natural horn of a goat synagogues to announce the New Year and Jewish Exile. The sound of the shophar was Even today interpretations vary from the so powerful that it could be experienced by pan-pipe or bagpipe to the lute or harp. plucked with a plectrum.10 referenced musical instrument in the Hebrew banned the playing of all other musical 19 It was played by the Levites (assistants to Scriptures. though the generally New Moon. the dedication of This Hebrew term is found in only Exodus in its usage in modern Jewish liturgy. was widely used in ancient Israel/Palestine. The shophar was also blown word ’ûgab. bc onwards. their succeeding scholars astray by dubbing Rosh Hashanah. It can produce only two or three tones – a Most modern scholars agree the toph was A man blows a ram’s-horn trumpet (shophar) to inaugurate the “voice”. and even at political coups As with the nebel. Like the kinnôr. It is also the sole instrument from instruments as a sign of mourning for the the priests) and featured at the transfer of Pamonim ancient Israel to have survived little changed destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. after military ’ûgab victories. (Exodus 28:35. The shophar is and it does not appear to have featured in louder sound – yet still played without a worn near the hem. For this reason it has not unique to the Jews: a depiction of a horns have been found in eighteenth-century (Exodus 15:20). The best supported suggestion is by the Romans in ad 70. 2 Samuel 6:5. nlt) (the annual Jewish day of atonement fast). Israelite victory celebrations. there is considerable (2 Samuel 6:15. archaeologists have as yet discovered no and at New Year a straight horn. . similar to signals in religious and military contexts. jubilee year. Although the sound of more reliable Vulgate translators led many particular occasions during the prayers on 15:16. main purpose was as a warning: it a “tuba” (Latin for military trumpet). Judges 6:34. with six to ten strings Apparently two types of shophar were in use: sixteen times in the Old Testament. transverse the shophar on the Sabbath was restricted flute. Ancient sources offer little help in defining The Hebrew Scriptures give little further Aaron [the first high priest] will wear this this instrument. the nebel a tenor or bass instrument in the Second Mentioned as many as seventy-four times. which had the Jewish Talmud and some writings The ancient instrument known in Hebrew minister to the Lord. ram’s hide. Best known of scholars favour translating nebel as “harp”. a “trumpet blast”. thicker strings than the kinnôr – giving it a Syria both depict similar bells (in modern eastern Turkey). in wartime. also unique among the instruments of ancient the Temple music (Judges 11:34).

The lists Solomon’s Temple. The call-and-response form was. Levite boys “to add sweetness to the song”.15 terms for vocal music. from the Pentateuch (the Books of Moses). adults. 3:5. evidence of the different ways in which singing is also frequently mentioned in the songs were performed. particularly suited to a context year training apprenticeship before being where the congregation had no written admitted to the choir. of The singers evidently underwent a five- course. 12:27–43). there seemed to be a balance 1. or metal trumpet. drum. instruments were string instruments.6). nrsv). the number 12 was an Israelite musical culture. angular harp. The Mishnah the “Song of Deborah and Barak” (Judges). player’s shoulder. The congregation repeats each unit after between instruments and voices in the music the leader. and Isaiah’s singers (women were excluded) aged “Hymn of Praise” (Isaiah). 2. often referred to HHJewish Music in the 29:25). It is One scholar has usefully summarized our suggested that in the Second Temple period knowledge of the Temple musicians: there were five possible ways of performing Temple musicians served in groups not as responsorial canticles: individuals. as well as the between thirty and fifty. 67. 13). of David’s last years. particularly of course in the into responsorial and corporate singing. HHInstruments in Babylon “harp” of Daniel 3:5. lyre. . you are to fall down account of the musicians deployed when particularly stringed-instrument – music stood on a platform that divided the Court of and worship the golden statue… ” (Daniel King David transported the holy Ark of into the sung liturgy (2 Kings 18:4–5. and entire The first book of Chronicles offers a rich and incorporating instrumental – in the first century bc. broadly divided Old Testament. music. Temple musicians the musical ensemble. angular harp. after which the priests entered small. 30:21). Jerusalem. In the Hebrew vocabulary of the Such canticles include the “Song of the Old Testament. most of the accompanying larger. symmetrically shaped instrument. with its sound-box resting on the Temple worship recommenced. Psalms. held horizontally and Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 5:11–14). and benevolent rule of Cyrus II of Persia around themselves. The “lyre” would have been a in the Old Testament are the music in 586 bc and the subsequent return to Judah (see p. Two priests stood vertically. the music at the of many deportees under the relatively the Temple sanctuary itself and prostrated about 50 by 25 centimetres in size. harp. held 537 bc. 20 book of Daniel describes a much-discussed during the later reign of King Hezekiah well-trained and (at least in post-exilic 21 group of musical instruments from a non.13 C h r i s t i a n M u s i c : A G lo b a l H i s t o r y Before as the “orchestra of Nebuchadnezzar”: Old Testament the ritual of the Jerusalem Temple and its In the Jewish Mishnah we have an account of “… when you hear the sound of the horn. Nehemiah part of the day’s allotted psalm or a section 7:44. reports that the choir of the Jewish Temple “David’s Lament” and “David’s Song of consisted of a minimum of twelve male Thanksgiving” (2 Samuel). Artwork by Alan Parry. of returning Jews in the books of Ezra and a Levite cymbal-player sounded his Nehemiah include huge choirs of singers and instrument. After the day’s designated sacrifices. At the end of each section. of Judah (1 Chronicles 23–25.12 and that performed at Temple sacrifices musicians were ordinarily male. and the “pipe” a reed 15:16–28). the Second Temple was built and Artist’s impression of the bronze laver and main sanctuary of their musical performance.11 The “horn” is probably a clay the Covenant to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles 29:25–26. a trumpet sounded and the assembled congregation HHSinging prostrated themselves. while the Levites commenced the “trigon” a small. outnumbering the Among other Old Testament canticles are terms for instrumental music. prayer-books from which to sing. which was probably a coming of the Ark of the Covenant to King of the Temple. and the Levites started to sing grand orchestras (Ezra 2:41. there are more than twelve Sea” or “Song of Moses and Miriam”.14 One scholar has concluded that the Until now we have discussed almost canticles of the Old Testament provide exclusively instrumental music. the The fourth chapter of the Old Testament possibly beaten with sticks. together with some Psalms themselves. Church: The Jewish Musical Tradition the Priests from the Court of Israel (Middoth. reorganizing the Levite musicians the musical routine at the Jerusalem Temple pipe. 2 Chronicles times) Levites. King Hezekiah apparently reformed idealized quorum of Temple musicians. focus of Jewish worship before the at the altar and blew the shophar trumpets. Particularly fully described Following the Exile of the Jews in Babylon a priest sounded the mysterious magrephah instrument. However. This contrasts with the Babylonian Captivity. 65. trigon.

second line. nrsv) psalm embodies a form of “stage directions”. Western music. Other psalm than pentatonic.16 performers were to pause. A fine 2. to stress the rhythm written in Greek. nrsv). Ancient “tunes” consisted of at a fifth-century ad synagogue excavated at what the leader has just sung. and were originally Rabbi Akiba (c. (Psalm 150:3–6.19 twenty-nine references to instruments. the Latin renderings in the observed services in the Second Temple they sang “A Psalm: A Song for the Sabbath of. dwell therein” [Psalm 24]. The leader sings the entire first line. of other contemporary musical instruments nrsv) seem to be the names of contemporary been intended to indicate the makam to For his steadfast love endures for ever. which appears seventy-one in the book of Revelation. In to Jerusalem (Zion) for the great Jewish This refers to a single. the The “tunes” of this period and region such pipes dating to Roman times. nrsv. deriving from the first and be praised in the city of our God. “Dove on Distant Oaks”. and so on. The nineteenth. The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120–134) instruments of the Old Testament. or these psalms may have intones each succeeding half-line. A leader of one gender sings the incipit. 11:17). “According to The Gittith” (Psalm 8). world cultures and (as we will see) the Christian New Testament includes only This was the singing which the Levites used The same scholar also found evidence of two throughout the history of Christian music.17 melodic formulae already familiar to the In contrast to the Old Testament. but the “According to Mahalath” (Psalm 53).20 interpretation of them than in the case of the in ad 70. popular or “folk” tunes (now sadly unknown) be used in performance. (later known as Herod’s Temple) before it Day” [Psalm 92]. and similar to the khalil of the Old Testament. adopted to sing Psalms 113–118 (known as to how to perform the respective psalm: Ingathering (Exodus 23:14–17). near Lake 3. nrsv. the round world and they that 2. offers an evocative (Psalm 56. or a particular word in. Such pipes were played at weddings congregation responds with the entire the psalm was to be accompanied by a flute were tetrachordal (four tones filling an and wakes (Matthew 9:23. on the second day the congregation of the same gender sings possibly indicates an “interlude” where the However. as well as breathing instructions. and only four therein is. nlt). or is perhaps a more recent. 80. musical tempo and emotional context (praise differed from the melodies of modern mosaic depiction of an aulos was discovered following which the congregation repeats or lament). Titles such as “The Deer and ornamented. nlt). “The Dove on Far-off Terebinths” the piece was seen to be of paramount Psalm 136 gives evidence of this form: Psalm 150. The leader sings the incipit (opening Temple. 2. ad 50–135). times in the text of thirty-nine psalms. These themes Galilee. The congregation completes the second the half of the unit started by the leader. even upon cue for the choir or a specific instrumentalist. For his steadfast love endures for ever… etc. importance. The Mishnah records that certain psalms performers. The congregation repeats a standard provide us with rich literary evidence about of the Dawn” (Psalm 22. which tune or instrument(s) to use. The leader intones the first half-verse. responsive public singing: such as “According to Alamoth” (Psalm may have been sung to accompany the Four specific musical instruments are 1. who would have his holy hill” [Psalm 48] … On the Sabbath such as the drummer.18 they reached a break in the singing they blew so we can be much more confident in our was razed to the ground by the Romans A number of Old Testament psalms upon the trumpet”. The whole congregation sings the song. culminating with the entry of the were intended to be sung using tunes or words) of each unit. the to Alamoth” (Psalm 46) probably indicates notes and known as makam. 46). “According thematic ideas or kernels made up of a few the Hellenistic city of Sepphoris. “Great is the Lord and highly to the following part of the song. and in the book “The Lord’s My Shepherd” be sung to the strictly observed. second centuries ad. A lyre is depicted in a of Jewish worship – and incidentally . The melodic theme was times in the New Testament. which as repeats the incipit and completes the unit. 57–59. as a refrain. and the like. and each theme had a range Lyre subtitles seem to indicate popular tunes to of less than a musical fifth. The leader sings a half-line at a time. The interpretation and (Revelation 15:2). Temple Mount. the leader “According to Lilies” [shoshannim] (Psalm 45). instructions referred to earlier may have 23 O give thanks to the Lord. Some of the psalm subtitles or 22 description of the “Temple orchestra” and and “Lily of the Covenant” (Psalms 60. Harvest. nlt). but freely embellished of Revelation is referred to as “God’s harp” The Psalms were probably the main “lyric” tune “Crimond”). the text: “… when Vulgate translation are generally consistent. Maclaren went as far as to suggest that this sung. in its upper register or by a high-pitched interval of a perfect musical fourth) rather voice (“soprano voices”. The second half of Dawn”. word selah. Jewish high priest’s ritual ascent of the mentioned in the New Testament texts: the congregation repeats this. On the first day they ways of performing corporately: The ubiquitous – and puzzling – Hebrew of which twelve are virtually repetitions sang “The earth is the Lord’s and all that 1. The subtitle “Do Not Destroy” (Psalms (Psalm 136:1–3. Harmony was O give thanks to the God of gods. This method was many instances these subtitles are instructions festivals of Unleavened Bread. congregation then repeats it. for instance. For example. “Doe of the elaboration of the musician performing refrain after each verse by the leader.or double-reeded pipe half-verse. and been chanted by pilgrims “going up” Aulos congregation always repeats the initial “A Song of Ascents” (Psalms 120–134). since these texts are relatively they sang. for he is good. pauses. similarly reported three forms of commence with a title or description. ancient Jewish music. Archaeologists in Israel have found many as the Hallel – hence “alleluia”). distinct musical instruments are discernible. The leader sings the whole song and the were sung on particular days in the Temple: tunes to liturgical texts is common throughout to a wide variety of musical instruments. but included The lyre (Greek kithara) is mentioned eight HHThe Psalms be used (just as today it might be suggested a leap of a third. the congregation human voice. enumerating the order in which instruments harvesting song quoted in Isaiah 65:8. 75) has been linked with a wine- 3. So it HHInstruments of the entered the musical performance in the appears very likely that a number of psalms New Testament Church: The Jewish Musical Tradition 4. to sing in the Temple. C h r i s t i a n M u s i c : A G lo b a l H i s t o r y Before century Christian commentator Alexander to which the respective psalms should be unknown to musicians of this period. The adoption of local popular we have seen boasts numerous references 5.

and in of the central Temple liturgy. who laid the ad 70 during the savage suppression of the foundations of Rabbinic Judaism and was Jewish Revolt marked a nadir in Jewish history. 15). and by both orthodox Jewish rabbis and Deuteronomy).) punctuation of the Hebrew text so it also close connections between However. the suppressed. Leviticus.21 By the Temple (Herod’s Temple) by the Romans in second century ad. and erotic performances. music was not so easily included melodic indications. and finger signals Right: Relief from court of the HHJewish Music in the (“chironomy”) to Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. Greek before ad 70 there is little evidence that any system of twenty-eight symbols (neumes) and Roman figurative instruments – except possibly the shophar – that represented the missing vowels and representations reveal were used in the synagogue. Archaeologists have discovered many or vocal. The Talmud seems to indicate early Christians. dating to ad 72 and celebrating ad chanting – or considered by both Jews and Christians to Rome’s triumph over the Jewish Revolt. Exodus. Ruth The Hellenistic Dionysus cult soon forced to acknowledge – as local and Ecclesiastes) sounded distinctive. trumpets (see p. from the Palazzo Altemps. As noted previously. and dulcimer. on of the Christian requiem mass derives. bc). and it is the signal for the resurrection good voice. To mourn its daily chanting as a means of study. Although Church: The Jewish Musical Tradition and last judgment (1 Corinthians 15:52b. Nineveh. . Israel/Palestine centred on the city the Babylonian Exile of the Jews (586–537 of Scythopolis (modern Beth Shan). only and scriptural scholars based in Tiberias and instruments and musicians the shophar escaped this ban. Numbers. tradition survived – which rabbis were of different books of the Bible (say. whether instrumental musical rendition. In the sixth century ad cymbals. with a Hellenistic statue of the god Apollo a system of hand holding his characteristic lyre. celebrated love/charity chapter. New Testament Period the loss of the Temple. musical performances. depicts two long trumpets next to the Jewish the required melody 25 seven-branched lamp-stand (menorah) was de rigueur. but it is choral singing of the C h r i s t i a n M u s i c : A G lo b a l H i s t o r y Before In the main the trumpet (Greek salpinx) is unclear whether this accurately represents Temple was often also referred to symbolically in the New the trumpets from the actual Temple or is subsumed in the solo Testament. usually apocalyptically as simply a representation of typical Roman chanting of a cantor. (Though even Jerusalem – developed the existing written from this period. showing musicians playing the tambourine. mosaic at a synagogue dating to ad 244 at The Arch of Titus in the ancient forum By the third century Dura-Europos in modern Syria. devoted to the practice of the Torah. It is from such The “clanging cymbal” (Greek kymbalon) was available in passages that the tuba mirum of the Latin text of 1 Corinthians 13:1. the Jewish leader Ezra had pioneered just south of Galilee. and prohibited all music during the Masoretes – groups of Jewish scribes pictorial representations of musical synagogue worship. or Books of the Law – condemnation of instrumental music Genesis. the rabbis banned preserve and communicate the correct 645 bc. Rome. The Trumpet plundered from Herod’s Temple. The lyre was of Rome. Almost inevitably a musical from an early stage (as today) the chanting god Pan. “cantillation” – to 24 symbolize spiritual and physical harmony. a layperson with a nrsv). the “God’s trumpet” (1 Thessalonians 4:16. in the apostle Paul’s written form. that reading the Torah “without chant” The almost total destruction of the Second was considered a minor sacrilege. As early as assigned to them. lyre. the thought to be a resonating brass vase – used accompanying music in Greek theatre to amplify voices – rather was transmitted by Left: First century ad Roman copy of than a musical instrument in the strict sense. is now papyrus scrolls. required It meant the end of Temple worship. oral tradition. Cymbal the text of the Torah 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Rabbi Akiba. with was particularly strong in the synagogue rituals began to take the place different and appropriate sounding neumes first centuries bc and ad. Such links with the public chanting of the Torah (the five pagan cults reinforced the frequent Books of Moses. It appears that music and the Dionysus cult.