Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

music, we have purposely confined light upon this much-neglected subject ourselves to the merest outline, in as our present state of knowledge and order to reserve as much space as pos. our limited space will allow. For this sible for the examination of the nature purpose we shall divide the subjectinto of this music, and the manner in which five heads, and consider separately—Ist, it was performed by the singers and in- The organisation of the appointed body strumentalists in the temple. Very of performers (the Levites); 2nd, The few expounders of Holy Writ bave place of performance; 3rd, The pieces thought it necessary, or — for reasons performed; 4th, The instruments emalready indicated—been in a position ployed in the temple ; and 5th, The to enlighten their readers on this sub- mode of performance. ject, although it is, in reality, one of 1. THE LEVITES.- The whole mamuch greater interest and importance nagement of the musical portion of the than anything else connected with the Jewish service was confided to the chilhistory of Jewish art, science, and cus- dren of Levi, who, as already observed, toms, inasmuch as the Bible itself received a careful musical instruction everywhere represents singing and in- from masters appointed for that purstrumental music as so intimately and pose. It is an error to suppose, as necessarily connected with the true some have done, that none but those public worship of Jehovah, that the of the tribe of Levi were allowed to latter appears to have been considered practise music. This may be seen incomplete, imperfect, and almost from Exod. xv. 20; 1 Sam. xviii. 67 ; worthless, without the other. Wher. Judges, xi. 34; Neh. vii. 67; Ps. ever mention is made of the institution Ixviii. 25, and many other passages in or improvement of the temple ser. the Bible. But all Jewish historians vice, there “ the instruments which and expounders of the law agree, that David invented,” “the harp, psaltery, none but real Levites were allowed to and lute," "the singing of praise in take a part in the musical perforthe words of David and Asaph,”. &c., mance in the temple, at least "not as &c., are specially and emphatically singers ; for there are some doubts renoticed; and it is, therefore, strange specting the instrumental performers, not to use a stronger term--that whilst especially on account of the Zippoauthors and teachers devote books and reans and Pegareans, and some of sermons to the examination of the most the inhabitants of Emmaus, who offiunimportant details in the life, disci. ciated as instrumentalists after the repline, and customs of the Jews, or turn of the Jews from Babylon, and spend a vast amount of time and labour which some assert to have been real to discover a hidden meaning in the Levites, whilst others contend that description of the different ornaments they did not belong to their tribe, but or vessels of the temple, the art of were merely admitted amongst them sound, which formed an integral part in order to supply the great want of of the public worship of Jehovah, instrumentalists. In the Talmud (Tract. without which, in fact, no real temple Erachin. c. ii. sec. 4) they are called service could be performed, should servants of the priests. have met with so little attention from Moses had ordained that no Levite those who profess to explain the word should be allowed to officiate in the of God. Luther says — “A minister temple before he had attained his who does not know music is not worth twenty-fifth year, and that his funclooking at." Although not everyone tions should cease with his fiftieth year, will subscribe to this dictum, still it probably because his voice was supwill appear, even from the following posed to have, by that time, lost its unscientific remarks, that without a freshness and flexibility. David, howknowledge of ancient music, a number ever, extended the time of service from of expressions relating to the perfor- twenty-five to thirty years, the Levites mance of the psalms and other religious being allowed to enter upon their office compositions must always remain un. with the twentieth year of age. The intelligible. We, therefore, flatter our. number of Levites appointed by David selves that we shall not only please the to sing and play in the temple was four readers of these pages, but do some thousand. These were divided into service to the cause of Biblical exegesis twenty-four classes, each of which had in general, by throwing as clear a its own leader, who superintended the instruction and conducted the perfor- attend, hence there was never a lack of mers, and who was called Menatzeach, performers on any of these occasions. or “chief musician." The menat- During the week of service, the Lezeachs of the different classes were vites dwelt in a range of chambers siagain placed under the control of tuated between the court of the women three principal directors, each of which and the court of the men (court of presided over one of the three principal Israel). The aspect of these chamdepartments of instrumental perfor- bers was towards the east, where the mance. The first three directors ap. altar was situated, and the whole court pointed over the Levites were Heman, of the Levites, along which these chamwho managed the department of wind bers extended, was fifteen feet higher instruments; Ethan, who presided than the court of the women. On over the stringed instruments ; and the same level, and in a line with the Asaph, under whose direction stood dwelling-chambers of the Levites, was the performers upon cymbals and other a large vaulted room where they had pulsatile instruments.-(1 Chron. xxv. to deposit their musical instruments 2–6.) The chief of all the Levites when off duty, as they were not allowed (Chenaniah) had the management of to take them into their own rooms. the vocal department (1 Chron, xv. 22). 2. THE PLACE OF PERFORMANCE.

The musical service in the temple The narrow court of the Levites which was performed by the different classes contained their private chambers and in a regular order of rotation, each the musical store-room, extended across class being on duty for a week, when the inner temple, and divided, as alanother took its place.--(2 Kings, xi. ready observed, the court of the wo5-7.) Thus every Levite had to be in men from that of the men. Along the Jerusalem two weeks in the year, en- western side of the court of the men, joying a rest of twenty-three weeks opposite to and in a line parallel with between each period of service. Dur. the chambers of the Levites, ran a ing the two weeks of service he was, stone wall about four feet high. This however, not constantly employed in wall divided the court of Israel from the temple. On ordinary occasions the innermost temple. The Levites only twelve singers and twelve instru. having crossed the court of Israel and mental performers (viz., nine harp ascended the wall on the other side by players, two performers upon the nabel means of steps cut out at different orpsaltery, and one cymbalist) were re- places, found themselves upon a semiquired to attend; for this reason each circular platform, whence they looked class of musicians was again divided down into the quadrangular court into companies, whorelieved each other where the priests ministered at the by turns, so that every Levite enjoyed altar. This platform was the highest some intervals of repose, even whilst and hindermost step of an amphitheon duty, and although the service in atrical gallery which was called Dou. the temple never ceased from morning chan, and which was the appointed till night. The great number of per- place of performance on ordinary ocformers also made it possible, without casions. The douchan consisted of a hardship, to individual Levites, to five of such semicircular platforms, comply with that remarkable ancient each about four feet wide and one foot law which prohibited, by penalty of higher than the one before it, the foredeath, the exchange of duty between most being the lowest and on a level members of different classes. The ob. with the court of the priests. On some ject of this law was to compel every occasions, however, the Levites did not Levite to appear in Jerusalem at least perform upon this gallery, but upon twice a-year. The three great festi. the steps which led from their court vals which occupied three weeks of the down into the court of the women. Of year were not included in the ordinary these steps there were fifteen, which time of service, and the attendance at the Levites ascended during the perthem was not compulsory, but consi- formance, singing one entire psalın dered as a matter of honour and holy upon each. The psalms selected for zeal. In addition to these stimulations, these occasions were those from the the right to a share in the remains of hundred and twentieth to the hundred the numerous offerings was held out and thirty-fourth of our collection, as an inducement for the Levites to which for this reason were designated

by the name of Hamaaloth, or "songs subjoined diagram shows the respective of the steps " (not “songs of degrees," positions of the different places here as in the authorised version). The mentioned:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

3. THE SACRED SONGS OF THE LE- each psalm its prescribed mode of perVITES.-Allthe hymns, and other sacred formance. Hence the many strange songs performed in the temple were, of and often almost unintelligible super. course, intended for the praise and scriptions over the psalms. During glory of Jehovah. A rich treasury of the ordinary service, whilst the burnholy sentiment, particularly suited, ing of the perpetual offering was going and mostly intended for this purpose, on, the Levites sang the 24th Psalm was contained in the psalms of David; on the first day of the week; the 48th and as these effusions of the sweet on the second; the 82nd on the third ; royal singer were, at the same time, the 94th on the fourth; the 81st on the most beautiful specimens of sacred the fifth ; the 93rd and 94th on the lyric poetry which the Hebrews pos- sixth. On Sabbath, the 92nd Psalm sessed, almost all songs performed by was regularly performed, besides sevethe Levites were selected from amongst ral others. During the burnt and them, as occasion and circumstances drink offering the Levites often also required, and the proper melodies and sang the last hymn of Moses (Deut. mode of performance taught to the xxxii.); and during the evening offering Levites by the Menatzeachs, or class- the first hymn of Moses (Exod. xv.) leaders. Every day and every kind of Part of the latter was also frequently service had its appointed psalms, and sung on week.days. The two grande

performances of the Levites were the to the Levites and the people; when Hamaaloth, already alluded to, and the there were more trumpet-players, they Hallel. The former, comprising fifteen joined in the performance of the sympsalms (Ps.cxx.-cxxxiv.), one for each phonies and interludes, these being the step leading from the court of the wo- only portions of the temple music in men to that of the Levites, was per- which the performers upon brass

informed with many ceremonies every struments and horns took a part. The evening of the eight days of the feast most solemn and grand of all instru. of Tabernacles, imm ately after the ments were the trombones, of which evening offering. The Hallel (literally, seldom more than seven were employ" he has praised") comprised Psalms ed. Of the flute-like instruments, the cxiii. to cxviii. These were sung on smaller kind (chalil) was used to acthe day following the first night of the company the melody in the higher ocPassover, on the first and last days tave“; and the larger one (nekabhim) of the first feast of harvest (Pentecost), in unison. There were frequently a and every day during the feast of great many of them, especially when Tabernacles. The Hallel was also sung the Hallel was sung, from which the during the feast of the Dedication of former instruments (chalil-halil) dethe Temple, which, after the time of rived its name. Judas Maccabeus, was celebrated in 5. The Mode OF PERFORMANCE.the winter, from the twentieth to the We have already had occasion to obtwenty-seventh of the month of Chisley serve, that the nature of the musical (November). During the feast of Ta- instruments in use amongst the Hebernacles, which of all feasts was cele- brews, as well as many other historical, brated with the greatest pomp: the physical, and psychological reasons Levites also sang Psalms cv., xcii., l., forbid the idea of a real harmony, in xciv., lxxxi., V., and lxxxv., one on the modern sense of the word, having each of the seven days. After the re- been known to or practised by either turn of the Jews from Babylon, portions the sacred or profane musicians of of Jeremiah's Lamentations were often Israel. This, however, does not exsubstituted for the psalms of the day. clude the possibility, that they were

4. THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS USED acquainted with, and made use of, IN THE TEMPLE.--Not all the instru- those most simple harmonic combinaments known to and played upon by the tions (octaves, fifths, and fourths), people were admitted into the temple. which, not only the natural difference Of the wind instruments, only the silver between male and female voices, but trumpets, curved horns (trombones), even the harmonic resonance of every and flutes (chalil and nekabhim) were single sound, whether vocal or instruallowed to be used. The usual stringed mental, must, at an early time, have instruments were harps, lutes, and suggested to everyone who bestowed psalteries, without which scarcely ever the least attention upon the nature of à psalm was sung. Of the many pul. musical sounds. All ancient nations, satile instruments, of which the Jewish of whose music we have any knowwomen were particularly fond, none ledge, sang and played not only in but cymbals were admitted upon the unison, but frequently in two simultadouchan. The migrephah, which the neous series of sounds (parts), of Talmudists mention as one of the sa- which the high one was the melody or cred instruments, was not employed air, and the other the lower octave ; during the service, but merely to give now and then interspersed with a a signal to the Levites to assemble upon fourth or fifth. This kind of natural the orchestra. It has already been harmony was known to the Jews stated, that at least twelve singers, and also ; and the Levites in particular as many instrumental performers, were employed it as a regular and estaobliged to attend on all ordinary oc- blished form of art, distinguishing the casions. On feast-days this number unison or purely melodious perforwas greatly increased, and the priests mance from that in two parts, by the also joined in the performance.-(2 artistic terms “ Alamoth" and " SheChron. v. 12.) No other but real sa- minith." crificing priests, i. e., descendants of The musical signification of these Aaron, were permitted to blow upon two terms we are enabled to define trumpets. Of these there were always with great precision and certainty two employed to give different signals from a passage in the fifteenth chap

9

ter of the first book of Chronicles (v. have indicated this by writing over the 20 and 21). In this passage some of music, “ chorus and band in unison.” the Levites are described as performing Having thus been led to the consi" with lutes (nabels not psalteries, deration of the superscriptions or as in the comnion version) upon Ala- titles of the psalms, we will embrace moth," and others “ with harps upon the opportunity to notice a general Sheminith.The literal meaning of difference in the performance of these Alamoth is “ virgin” or “young wo- compositions, indicated by the words man" (see Ps. Ixviii. 26; Cant. “psalm” and “song. The word i. 3; Ezra. vii. 14); in a musical psalm is derived from the Greek verb sense it must, therefore, signify a fe- psallein," which means not merely male or treble voice; or (on account “ to sing,” but to sing to an instruof the prefix Al,” which indicates mental accompaniment ; and the a rule or precept), a strain for high or instrument called “psalter,” retreble voices. Modern musicians ceived its name from its being the would call this “ singing in alto;" and favourite instrument upon which the the term Alamoth is, therefore, equi. Greek and Roman singers accompanied valent to our “alto voice,” or “alto themselves. Hence, those lyric compart,” accordingly as it is applied positions which are especially marked either to indicate a peculiar class of as "psalms,” were never sung without voices, or one of the two series of an instrumental accompaniment. That sounds of a two-part composition. In mere “singing,"and" singing psalms," contradistinction to the higher class were considered as two different things, of voices, or the upper part (melody) appears from Ephes. v. 19; Ps. of a song, the deeper voices and the xxvii. 6; and many other passages; lower part were termed “ Sheminith," and as the difference between those which means “the eighth" or octave. compositions, which are designated as That this eighth or octave must be the psalms, and those which are termed one below the melody is plain, not songs, does not consist in a difference only from the circumstance that it is between their contents (of this every placed in juxtaposition with the word one may soon convince himself), it Alamoth, which can be no other but must be a difference of form, the infethe upper voice or part, but also from rence being, that for the proper perforthe statement of the inspired writer mance of the real psalms, an instru. that it was “sounded upon harps ;" mental accompaniment was indispensthe harps being of a lower compass able; whilst the “songs" did not necesthan the lutes. The above passage sarily require such an accompaniment. should, therefore, have been ren. Probably the whole performance of the dered thus: “Whilst Zechariah, Aziel, psalms was a more musically deveand other performers upon lutes, loped one than that of the songs; the accompanied the melody of the sing- latter being delivered in a more free ers in unison, Matthitiah, Eliphe. and half declamatory (recitativo) style lah, and their brethren played the of singing. This agrees with the opilower octave (or bass part,) upon nion of Hilarius, Enthymius, Chrysosharps." This explanation will also tomus, and Basilius ; according to enable the reader to understand the whom, the superscription "a psalm meaning of the superscriptions of Ps. and song," which we find over Psalms vi. and xlvi. “Neghinoth" being the xxx., lxv., lxvii., and others, indicates general term for stringed instruments, that the sacred song was to be perthe expression "on Neghinoth, upon formed, first, in a strictly musical (canSheminith,” implies that the melody tabile) style, with a full instrumental of the psalm was to be accompanied accompaniment, and afterwards in the by all the stringed instruments in the form of an alternating recitativo; and lower octave. In the superscription vice versa, when the superscription of the 46th Psalm, the term Alamoth was a “song, a psalm," as over Ps. stands by itself, and therefore most xlviii., lxvi., lxxxiii., &c. In this likely applies to the performance in case, the expression "a psalm or general ; meaning that the singers, as song,” would indicate that the hymn, well as the instrumentalists, were to or sacred song, might be executed in confine themselves to the air, without either form. adding an accompaniment in the lower It has already been stated, that the octave. Modern composers would usual instruments of accompaniment

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »