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a supplement of Davidic songs. The compiler of the third book * has inserted the words, “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended,” between this and the second; it was therefore no longer his intention to collect Davidic songs. The fourth and fifth books, again, contain some of the psalms of David, but the number of those which appear to have been used in the services of the Second Temple increase, while some bear distinct marks of having been composed after the return from the captivity. The hypothesis of a gradual collection alone explains the recurrence of the same psalms with slight deviations. The restoration and rearrangement of the temple-worship took place during the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah. Songs of praise occupied a prominent place in the feasts; hence it is thought that the collections of the Psalms were, in all probability, if not earlier, then instituted. It appears from Prov. xxv. 1, that Hezekiah gave orders for a collection of Solomon's Proverbs; according to 2 Chron. xxix. 30, he caused the Songs of David to be sung; how probable, therefore, that he ordered a collection of the Songs of David and his musicians to be made. The Psalter, in its present form, however, cannot be traced to a time anterior to the Second Temple.
The titles of the Psalms did not originate with the compilers, but with those who first wrote them down, or in the authors themselves. For it is not uncommon with poets among the ancient Arabians and Syrians, to prefix their own names to their poems : thus the prophets frequently place their names at the head of their prophecies, 4 as e.g. Balaam, in Numbers xxiv. 3. 15, Habakkuk's Psalm (Hab. iii.), and the Song of Hezekiah. 5 That David adhered to the same practice is undeniably clear from 2 Samuel xxiii. 1, cf. also the title to Psalm xviii. which had been seen by the author of the Books of Samuel (2 Sam. xxii.).t Those titles may confidently be ascribed to David himself, which are couched in poetic language, and relate to the contents of the psalm; e.g. Psalm xxii. if we render with Luther, “Concerning the early pursued hind," and refer this to David himself; and Psalm lvi. where David describes himself as a mute, innocent dove in a foreign country. Those Psalms, however, which simply have, “Of David," may have been added at their being written down for the first time, since the author's name was not immaterial to the admirer of a song. If the addition of the titles originated with the compilers in the days of Hezekiah, we should be shut up to the supposition that certain verbal traditions respecting the separate psalms had been transmitted, which certainly is the less probable case. The opinion has been diffused in modern times, that the compilers determined the titles from mere supposition, or the indications contained in the historical books; but not all the statements are connected with the historical books, while those which are, Psalm liv. excepted, are by no means taken from them literally,7 and in Psalm lvi. there even occurs a slight difference in matter, as compared with 1 Sam. xxi. etc.
Respecting the design and use of the Psalms, we may divide them as to their contents into songs of praise, of thanksgiving, of complaint, and instruction, as Psalm i. and xxxvii. A portion of them may at once be regarded as prayers, or colloquies of the heart with God; (Ps. xix. 15, where A. V. renders, “The meditation of my heart"). Hence the first two collections of the Psalms are called (Ps. lxxii. 20), “The Prayers of David.” These, partly sung under circumstances in which the psalmists could not possibly contemplate anything but their own immediate need, were afterwards designed for congregational use, and furnished with the addition, “To the chief musician,” and the direction on which instruments they were to be performed. David however, who calls himself (2 Sam. xxji. 1) “the sweet Psalmist of Israel," composed others expressly for the use of the congregation, as e.g. on the removal of the ark to Mount Zion," on going to war, on triumphal festivities, and on pilgrimages to the sanctuary.5 Personal relations are of course entirely absent in that species of psalms. On this point, it has already been observed that psalms too personal in their allusions were excluded : if, however, certain psalms, to judge from the occasions to which their titles refer, lead us to expect individual references, as e.g. Psalm lii. liv. lvi. lvii. we should remember that the absence of historical allusion has its analogy in the spiritual songs of Luther, Paul Gerhard, etc.
(1) Psalms li. lxv. lxviii.- lxx. (2) Psalms cxxvi. cxxxvii. cxlix. (3) Cf. Psalm xiv. with liii. xl. 18 with lxx. (4) Isa. i. 2; Jer. i. 4; Hos. i. 2. (5) Isa. xxxviii. 9. (6) Ps. vii. Ix. (7) Psalms xxxiv. li. lii. lvii. lix. lx.
* Linguistic grounds show that the compiler of the second book did not add that sentence. See De Wette's Comment. on the Psalms, p. 18.
+ The Song of Lamentation (2 Sam, i.) is not likely to have been recorded in “The Book of the Upright," without any account of the author and the theme : 17 and 18 verses furnish the words of the title.
It is the mark of religious morbidity if a pious poet cannot free himself from his personal relations, while it indicates strength if he knows to enter into general truths and the relations of God to man and His church. In the measure as a christian's piety is developed, he learns to find under even extraordinary difficulties in the Lord's Prayer the expression adapted to his need. The Psalms of David may have been extensively circulated during his life-time: we read (2 Sam. i. 18) that he caused the funeral ditty on Jonathan to be learned by heart : the same song had been inserted into a collection of National songs, “ The Book of Jasher” (the book of the upright).* To infer from the title, Psalm lx. was intended to be committed to memory. David had appointed singers, 4 both at the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle, who chiefly used his own compositions: we may also presume that David himself used to sing psalms in the service (cf. Psalm xx. xxi. and Ps. xxvi. 6. 7). In the time of Amos, about two hundred years after David, his psalms were so popular that the nobility used to frame secular songs on their model.5 Hezekiah appointed the singing of the Psalms as part of the Divine service : 6 so did Ezra and Nehemiah in the service of the Second Temple.? Even such psalms, which, with slight deviations, are repetitions or compositions of the Psalms of David, as e.g. Psalms liii. lxx. cviii. and the final verses at a later period added to others, 8 indicate the diligent use of Davidic songs, both during the captivity and the period of the Second Temple.
Song and music were prominent features of Divine worship in David's time. This is evident from the large number of two hundred and eightyeight Levites who were expressly appointed for singing and the performance of music.9 Not less than two hundred and fifty-five singing men and singing women returned from the exile.10 Leaders were appointed to the several divisions, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun.11 A singer is mentioned (1 Chron. xv. xvi.] 22), on the occasion of the removal of the ark, whose special business it was to teach song. So in the time of the Second Temple, the singers had their leaders.18 “David beautified their feasts, and set in order
(1) Psalms xv. xxiv. (2) Ps. XX. xxi. lxviii. (3) Ps. cxxii. (4) 1 Chron. xvi. 37. 41. (5) Amos vi. 5. (6) 2 Chron. xxix. 30. (7) Ezra iii. 10. 11; Neh. xii. 24. 45. (8) Psalms xiv. lxviii. xxxv. (9) 1 Chron. xxv. [xxvi.] 7. (10) Neh, vii. 67. (11) 1 Chron. xxv. 6. (12) Neh. xii. 24; xlii. 46.
* It is not likely that that book contained Psalms, because it appears chiefly to have celebrated great heroes and heroic feats.
the solemn times perfectly, that they might praise his holy name, and that the temple might sound from morning.”
The chief instruments used by the Levites were, according to the records of the Books of Chronicles, cymbals, harps, and lutes; according to Psalm v. 1, we should add the flute, which is frequently noticed on Egyptian monuments. At processions, females played the "doff,” ie. the basstambourine, which is still very common in the East. The monuments of ancient Egypt show this instrument to have been struck by females at religious festivals. The same monuments, six thousand years old, have representations of a large number of stringed instruments; an eight-stringed harp, a three-stringed guitar.* The Israelites may have brought them from Egypt. The music and song of the Levites used to be performed at the times of the morning and evening sacrifices, but chiefly on Sabbaths and festivals. After the priests had finished the sacrifice, while the trumpets sounded, the Levites, accompanied by music, used to begin their song. The picture of a procession of the ark through the outer court, accompanied by song and music, is indicated in Psalm lxviii. 25—28.
“They have seen thy goings, O God. “Even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary. “The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after. “Among them were the damsels playing with timbrels. “Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, from the fountain of
Israel.” (Cf. margin.) Nearest to the ark were the singers, then came the players on stringed instruments along with damsels striking the tambourine. Even a verse of their song is given. In the description of the dedication of the temple of Solomon, the music of the Levites on stringed instruments was accompanied by the sound of the silver trumpets of the priests. Even the Pagans found those songs so sweet, that during the captivity they asked the Levites for some of their psalms. 4
Antiphonic choruses obtained in the remotest times. (Cf. Ex. xv. 20. 21.) They existed during the period of the Second Temple. Those choruses distributed among themselves the contents of the songs, and were not confined to the mere repetition of the same tune in a lower key, as is the custom in the modern East. This is evident from many psalms," but chiefly from Psalm cxxxvi. where the refrain, “For his mercy endureth for ever," was doubtless sung by a chorus. We should then conceive of sacred song as either consisting of two responding choruses or of a Levite precentor, responded by a chorus of Levites. Responsive song seems to have been common among the ancient Egyptians.f Responses, indeed, belong to the character of national song. I It is a question how far the congregation took part in singing. To the best of our knowledge, the Old Testament nowhere mentions congregational sacred singing. It appears that the Levites only
(1) Sir. xlvii. 12 . (2) Psalms lxxxi. xcii. cxviii. (3) 1 Chron. xvi. 40–42; 2 Chron. xxix. 25–30; Psalm xx. 4; Neh, xii. 42. 43; 1 Macc. iv. 54. (4) Ps. cxxxviii. 3. (5) Neh. xii. 40–42. (6) Niebuhr's Travels, i. p. 176. (7) Psalms xx. lxvii. cxviii. cxxxii. cxxxiv.
* The name "lute” is, like the instrument itself, of Oriental origin; its Arabic name is “alaud.”
+ Champillion describes an ancient Egyptian grotto-painting, representing a singer accompanied by a musician, and supported by two choruses, consisting of males and females. (Hengstenberg's Moses and Egypt, p. 133.) The support may probably mean, that now the choruses perform simultaneously (the females only marking the time), and then the singer performs a solo.
Wolf, p. 122, etc., who shows that the refrain occurs in the oldest species of national song, the Icelandic, etc.
used to sing at public worship. There is nothing strange in this, if we bear in mind the relation of the priesthood to the people under the Jewish economy.
The service of the Roman Catholic Church corresponds in this respect also to the idea and form of the Old Testament service. In the former the share of the people has since about the sixth century been restricted to the antiphonies of the “ formula solennes,” and even that small share passed at a later period into the "schola cantorum." It may even be questioned whether the refrains frequently occurring in the Psalms, or other emphasized final words, were sung by the people at all, and not entirely confined to the singers. Since, however, from the period after the exile, the prayers and songs used to receive the confirmation of the people by an “Amen," while they lifted up their hands and bowed their heads, we may assume that the Hebrew people* used to sing formulæ, similar to those to which in the ninth and tenth centuries the share of the Roman Catholic people was restricted, viz.,Hallelujah, and Kyrie Eleyson;t at all events it is not improbable that the people joined in the singing of the refrain. A similar relation obtained in the synagogue service of the later Jews. But apart from the service there existed religious songs among the people; we may especially assume the existence of Songs of Pilgrimage. Many think that the so-called “Songs of Degree" (in Luther's version, “Songs in the Higher Choir,” because he believed that they used to be sung from the high choir like the psalms of the ancient church), were songs of pilgrimage used by the Israelites, who went up to the temple at Jerusalem to the three great festivals. Here we have once more a resemblance to the Roman Catholic Church, for the so-called “Songs of Pilgrimage"4 are among the oldest sacred national songs. The songs in 2 Sam. i. 18, Psalm lx. seem to be national, because they were intended to be learnt by heart.
Another question remains. What was the manner of singing ? The more common view inclines to a cantillare rather than a cantare. Something like the Mass service, or the intonations of the Lutheran clergy at the altar, –a solemn chanting, during which the voice rests with diversified modulations on separate notes. This view has in its favour that, probably, every species of national song was originally sung only in that manner. Fauriel says, that the singing of the Greek clephts resembles cathedral song ; Walker, that the ancient Irish bards used thus to sing the songs of Ossian. Synagogic singing (the notes of which may be found in the periodical, “The Jew” (Der Jude,) Selig, vol. i. p. 80), and the singing of the Mohammedans at the reading of the Koran and the Dsikr (i.e. the recitation of the name of the Deity), are of the same kind. Lane (Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, Lond. 1836, vol. ii. pp. 92. 192) gives specimens. Even Greek religious songs (in the second century) were sung in a manner related to cathedral song, as appears from Bellermann's “Hymns of Dionysius and Mesomedes,” Berlin, 1840. Synagogic singing, the liturgic singing of the Mohammedans, and the more ancient Christian cathedral song, coincide in the lengthening and modulating of certain final notes; they are, among the Jews, the word “echad;" one, in the formula, “ Thy God is one God;” in the Mohammedan Dsikrs, the syllable “Al,” in Allah ; in the Mass-services, the
(1) Psalms xlii. xliii. xlvi. lvii. (2) Neh. viii. 6. (3) Psalm cxxii. (4) Hoffman, Pp. 113–129.
** Haberfeld (Baruch or the Doxologies of the Bible. Leips. 1806) expatiates on the antiphonies of the Old Testament service, but furnishes suppositions only. He adinits, as is maintained by some, that Sir. I. 24, is an antiphony of the people, which is the most important passage.
+ Hoffman's History of Sacred Song. 1832. P. 7, etc.
syllable, “Jah," in Hallelujah.* The cantillation of the Psalms is again probable from their nature, which renders their separation into strophes of equal length impossible. Unequal strophes occur in most of the Psalms: their separation is not always certain even in the case of refrains (e.g. Ps. xlii. xliii.), the number of the verses does not correspond, while their length varies. We can only assume then a tune running on, as in the case of the said Greek songs, and if so, that amounts to cantillation. For the same reason the singing of psalms in the ancient christian church cannot have been our choral song. (v. p. 2.) The prominent position of the precentor in the synagogue and the ancient church seems to agree with this view. The design of some Psalms, (e.g. Psalms xxi. cxviii.) unmistakeably points to solo performance. Others present exceptions. Logical strophes of an equal number of verses occur in Psalms i. ii. xii. xxiv. xli. cxiv. cxxviii. etc. But was the repetition of the same tune confined to these? According to the titles of Psalms lvii.—lix. etc. several psalms differing in matter were sung to the same tune (perhaps the same manner); may not this, again, point to cantillation ?
THE AUTHORS OF THE PSALMS.
his works are he sungar, tha
The history and place of David in the kingdom of God accord to him our chief interest. We have more psalms from him than from any one else. There are seventy-four psalms headed by his name,a small number, if compared with the one thousand and five songs of Solomon. It must be assumed for certain, that we have only a selection, as appears from the two psalms which, though recorded in the books of Samuel, find no place in the Psalter. We introduce our remarks on David in the words of Sirach : “In all his works he praised the holy one Most High, with words of glory, with his whole heart he sung songs, and loved Him that made him. He set singers also before the altar, that by their voices they might make sweet melody, and daily sing praises in their songs. He beautified their feasts, and set in order the solemn times, until the end, that they might praise his holy name, and that the temple might sound from morning. The Lord took away his sins and exalted his horn for ever: he gave him a covenant of kings and a throne of glory in Israel."!
From comparing 1 Sam. xvi. 17-19, with chap. xvii. 13. 14. 28, it appears that his hand was wont to strike the harp, when it was thought too weak for combat and war: he was feeding his father's sheep, while his elder brothers went out into the field. We have reason to think, that even at so tender an age he did not confine himself to accompanying the harp with the songs of others, but that the praise of God was the favourite theme of his own compositions. How great a testimony to the power and humility of his faith is furnished in the words of glorious renown, which the heroic youth addressed to the Philistine: “Thou comest to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of
(1) Sir. xlvii. 9—13.
* Vide Buxtorf, Synagoga Judaica, p. 205. Lane, vol. ii. p. 197. Wolf, etc. This lengthened note of the mass was called Neuma, i.e. Pneuma: it was afterwards based on texts, which, because they followed the Hallelujah, were termed “ Sequences."