Imatges de pàgina
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Nor must this, be imputed solely to the inspiration of the writers, since there is as much difference in their style as between that of men uninspired. Moses, David, and Amos, differ nearly as Milton, Watts, and Bunyan. So, in the New Testament, there is a manifest difference between Peter, Luke, and Paul. The Spirit of inspiration, doubtless, raised and improved their intellectual powers, but did not annihilate them. One was subliine and nervous; a second, sententious and concise; a third, elegant and diffuse ; all beautiful, though various. Thus, • There is one glory of • the sun, another of the moon, and another of • the stars,'

The excellence of the Hebrew poetry may be urged in favour of the language, and both in favour of their music. Sublime and beautiful compositions are seldom produced in rude and inharmonious languages, and poetry is rarely cultivated where music is greatly neglected. This remark has greater force in reference to former times, when the professions were united, than to the present, when they are distinct.

It is very difficult to suppose, that the most poetic nation in the world should be unmusical; or that the inimitable odes of Moses, David, and Isaiah should be composed to ' very barbarous music.

The investigation of the Jewish musical theory would be foreign to our present purpose.

If the diatonic scale be that of Nature, as Lord BACON says', it is natural to suppose it

1 Natural Hist. page 30.


the most ancient, not only in the world, but in every country; and this notion very well agrees with the few fragments of ancient music still remaining.

From the construction of the syrinx or Hebrew

organ, of a regular series of pipes, it should seem that they used the whole octave, without omitting the natural semi-tones, as in the old Greek enharmonic, the Chinese and ancient Scottish scales'; and this idea is rendered more probable from the number of strings on some of their instruments, which we know to have been at least ten in David's time, when scarcely half that number was used in Greece.

As to the length of their notes, it is certain that formerly the duration of sounds was always regulated by the length of the syllables to which they were adapted. These among the Greeks were of two sorts, long and short. The modern Jews, however, have vowels of four different lengths; and Mr. Bedford supposes, that the ancient Hebrews had as great a variety in their musical notes ?.

It is generally believed, and not without reason, that the most ancient method of singing was a species of chant, or recitative; yet ini the only text in which our translators have used the word chant (in the margin quaver) it seems to intend an artificial running of divisions:.


Burney's Hist. of Music, vol. I. p: 37, 38, and 497: compare also p. 226*.

2 Teinple Music, p. 29.. 3. Amos, vi. 5, See Parkhurst's Hebrew Lexicon, p. 542.

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That harmony, in the modern sense of the term, as implying music in different parts, was known to the ancient Hebrews, there appears to me little reason to suppose, since we are informed that the great number of voices and instruments employed at the dedication of Solomon's temple made but one sound',' This, however, must be supposed to include octaves (as it may with strict propriety) for the treble and bass voices, as well as instruments, would certainly he in diapason. The musical notation of the Hebrews is another very curious subject of enquiry.. ? Neither the ancient Jews, nor the

moderni (says Dr. BURNEY) have ever had * characters peculiar to music ; : so that the 'melodies used in their religious ceremonies • have at all times been traditional, and at the mercy of the singers. The Canonica Cavalca is however of apinion, that the points of the Hobrew. language were at first musical cha*sacters; and this 'conjecture has been con'firmed to me (adds the doctor) by a learned • Jew, whom I have consulted on that sub*ject, who says, that the points still serve two

purposes ; in reading the prophets they i merely mark accentuation; in singing them they regulate the melody, not only as to

long and short, but high and low notes<,' This is a common opinion among the Jews, and is perhaps not totally without foundation. The opinion, however, which now prevails among the learned is, that the ancient Hebrews were not

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2 Chron. v. 13

? Hist. of Music, vol. I. 251.

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acquainted either with the points or accents, but that they have been invented by the Jewish doctors since the Christian æra'.

If we were to consider the effects of the Jewish music, particularly in the case of Saul, and its general influence over the dispositions of the people, we might safely compare them with any that can be well attested in the Grecian history. We might also enlarge on the degree of refinement to which this and other arts were carried in the elegant court of Solomon, and the notice afterwards taken of the

Songs of Sion' among their eastern conquerors . But these circumstances would lead us into a very extensive field of enquiry ; we shall therefore conclude with observing, that,

On the whole-If the Jews were a nation much attached to music-if their dispensation had peculiar advantages for its cultivation--if their voices and instruments were, at least, equal to those of any other cotemporary nation — if their language was euphonic, and their poetry sublime-if the effects of their music were considerable, and its fame extended to foreign countriesit may certainly deserve a better epithet than that of very barbarous: it must have been at least equal to that of any of the ancient nations.

In addition to the above observations on the Hebrew music, I would only add a few re


Encyc. Brit. in Accent.

Ps. cxxxvii. 3.


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marks on the manner in which it was conducted.

Above fifty of the Psalms are directed, as our translators express it, to the chief musician. There appear, indeed, to have been several leaders


the different instruments of music: among these Asaph seems, in David's time, to have been the chief, and it is particularly said of him, that he played the cymbals. I conceive the performers to have been placed in two choirs, as in our cathedrals; and that the Psalms were most of them in 'dialogue, so that the choirs answered to each other, and then joined in chorus. This chief musician (Asaph, for instance) I suppose to have stood at the end, with the cymbals, by which he directed the performers, and when he wished a hold or pause, to produce any particular effect, or perhaps any particular change in the performance, he elevated his hands with the cymbals (as we see the Turkish musicians frequently do); and this I take to be the precise meaning of the word selah, which has so much perplexed the commentators'.

By the titles of the Psalms it appears that some of them were more particularly designed

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The manner in which the ancient versions have rendered these words has puzzled the critics as much as the words themselves. The LXX, for instance, render nyans EIS TO TEROS, to the end (mán), by whom I suppose they meant the leader, who was placed at the upper end of the choir. The word mso, they render by Albania, which expresses not so properly the literal meaning of the word, as its designs a change in the performance, or a deviation in the time.

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