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WHATEVER may have been the precise idea meant to be conveyed by the poet in the verses which we have placed at the head of this article, when he speaks of the harp of David as having been

Hallow'd by music, as she wept

O'er tones her heart of hearts had given,

it is certain that the sublime and unrivalled odes, or psalms, as we call


them, of the monarch minstrel, were anciently accompanied with a splendour and profusion of music, vocal and instrumental, of which most modern readers have no adequate idea-and which must have made the great festivals of the Jews-and even their more daily and familiar worship some of the most rapturous and sublime scenes that can be conceived, or that have ever been realised on earth. The psalm is, in its very nature and original design, a sacred hymn or soNG, intended to celebrate the attributes, the government, and the progressive dispensations of the Almighty ;-it was, by its very nature, musical, or expressive of emotions or sentiments which naturally express themselves in musical cadences or harmonies ;-music was, therefore, an essential part of its construction and intended efficacy-and we know that, from the earliest ages of the Jewish history, not only poetry, but music, was cultivated with a view to the perfect exhibition of those religious ceremonies or prophetic announcements which were peculiar to that people-and in the celebration of which they considered their chief glory and appropriate felicity to consist." The schools of the prophets," says Bishop Lowth, "were antecedent to the monarchy by many years—and there, the youth, educated in the prophetic discipline, applied themselves, among other studies, particularly to sacred poetry, and celebrated the praises of Almighty God in lyric compositions, accompanied with music. Under the government of David, however, the arts of music and poetry were in their most flourishing state. By him no less than four thousand singers or musicians were appointed from among the Levites, under two hundred and eighty-eight principal singers or leaders of the band, and distributed into twenty-four companies, who officiated weekly, by rotation, in the temple, and whose whole business was to perform the sacred hymns-the one part chaunting or singing, and the other playing upon different instruments. The chief of these musicians were Asaph, Heman, and Zeduthun, who also, as we may presume from the titles of the psalms, were composers of hymns. From so very splendid an establishment," continues our author, "so far surpassing every other appointment of the kind, some reasonable conjectures may be formed concerning the original dignity and grandeur of the Hebrew ode."


Surpassingly splendid, however, as were the tones and accompaniments of the harp, so magnificently swept by the monarch minstrel, in its primitive and public use, it is no less true, according to our poet's lamentation, that music now has reason "to redouble her tears," for the chords once so proudly and effectively swept, are now riven,”—or, in the words of the same accomplished prelate whom we have already quoted, "it must be remembered that we at present possess only some ruins, as it were, of that magnificent fabric, deprived of every ornament, except that splendour and elegance, which, notwithstanding the obscurity that antiquity has cast over them, still shine forth in the sentiments and language. Hence, in treating of the Hebrew ode, we must be content to omit entirely what relates to the sacred music, and the nature of the instruments which accompanied the vocal performance-though there is the utmost probability that these adjuncts were not without

their influence, as far as respects the form and construction of the different species of ode. Our information, upon these subjects, is indeed so very scanty, that I esteem it safer to be silent altogether concerning them, than to imitate the example of some of the learned, who, after saying much, have in fact said nothing."

So true-so sadly true-is it, that the chords of the monarch minstrel's harp are now "riven"—and that the very intonations of the language which the monarch used, the versification to which his melodies were set, and the whole of the splendid music with which, in both their public and private exhibition, his divine hymns were accompanied, have passed away amidst the wreck of many other splendid things that once were-though so essential are all the adjuncts which we have enumerated-intonation of language, rhythm of versification, arrangement of metres, and musical accompaniments-to the full effect of that particular species of poetry which is named the Sacred Song, the Hymn, the Ode, that we can now have but a very inadequate idea of the impression which the Hebrew lyrics originally produced-or even of the peculiar and deeply spiritual tones, which their sentiments and imagery were meant to breathe and to diffuse.

Still we have great reason to be thankful, that, for the right understanding of these divine compositions, we know so much as we, in fact, still know and may appreciate. We, in fact, know many things which help us greatly in the interpretation of the meaning of the monarch's lays or psalms-besides the obvious purport of the sentiment or emotion which they express. We know the leading circumstances of the miraculous history of the chosen people—we know the general ordination and ceremonies of their splendid and peculiar worship-we know much of their struggles, their defeats, and their victories in relation to surrounding nations we know the general features of the country given to them by divine appointment as their peculiar inheritance we know much of the private and deeply interesting history of their favourite monarch, and most distinguished poet and musician-we see enough in the still remaining structure of their verse, to give us some idea of the measured cadence, and alternate chaunting, to which it was adapted-but, above all, we can trace, in by far the greater number of instances, with great distinctness, the leading sentiments by which the different psalms are pervaded-and with all these aids, we can still sympathise with the verse of the poet, and say, with respect to the Harp of David, that though its sound

Aspired to heaven and there abode-
Since then, though heard on earth no more,
Devotion and her daughter Love

Still bid the bursting spirit soar

To sounds that seem as from above,

In dreams that day's broad light cannot remove.

If any competent scholar wishes adequately to understand the essential difference that exists, so far as the view of life and of all human duty is concerned, between the sacred poetry of the Hebrews, and the corresponding hymns or lyrical effusions of the classical nations of anti

quity, let him employ his morning hours in the attentive perusal of one or two of the compositions of the sacred books-studying these, not merely in their structure or peculiar rythmical conformation, and in the development of their leading idea-but in the tone of thought and of sentiment which they are adapted to awaken-in the view, in short, which they exhibit to him of his own place and duty in life;-and after having thus becomingly employed his morning hours, let him betake himself, during some of the succeeding hours of the day, to the study in the same style of any of the most admired works of the great authors of the Grecian or Ionian schools. We put altogether out of view, on this occasion, the mere difference of language and of style because in these respects the perfectly formed, and artistically arranged, and still excellently preserved languages of the Grecian era, must have charms for every scholar, which cannot be rivalled by those of any other remains of the dialects spoken by even the most distinguished of the nations whose literary compositions have survived the havoc of time, and of all kinds of national and social revolutions. But what we specially allude to is, the very different feeling which the student of these two different sets of literature will unavoidably receive, respecting his own situation in life, respecting his moral condition, and respecting his final responsibility, from the very different kind of ideas by which his morning and his forenoon studies have been pervaded and characterised. The distinctive tendency of the Grecian mind was to consider life as a scene simply of mirth, of festivity, and of enjoyment-as a scene, so emphatically described by one of their own poets, in which it was the duty and privilege of man, "to laugh, to sport, to amuse himself, to see beauty in every thing, and evil in nothing." And, in fact, they succeeded, to a wonderful extent, in realizing this idea, in their actual exhibition of life and of duty-they were a gay, a laughter-loving, a tasteful, but, in many respects, a very imperfectly-fashioned moral race-earth and its enjoyments were what they chiefly regarded-and the happier, according to their sensual ideas of happiness, they made themselves, during their short passage through this scene of beauty and of mirth, the more completely did they believe themselves to have accomplished the purpose for which life was given them -and for which so many forms of beauty, and so many sources of sensual enjoyment, were so profusely strewed around them. Provided habits of thinking or of acting gave immediate gratification, however loose or unjustifiable these habits might seem in the eyes of an austere morality, they were of opinion, that the great purpose of life had been answered, by the measure of enjoyment, which their favourite vices or habits of loose thinking had actually and by present operation been the occasion of furnishing-and if they could only make life "one holiday," they trusted to an eventual realization of all higher aspirations of enjoyment among the company of immortals, who were not exempt from like passions with men and who only enjoyed a fuller measure, a more lasting tenure, or a more exquisite taste, of similar gratifications to those which had characterised the first stage of man's progressive existence.

In the Hebrew poetry, all these ideas are reversed. The very first impression which the reader or student of that poetry receives, is that of

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