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Article

David  

James W. McKinnon

(fl c1010–961 bce). Founder, king and charismatic ruler of the united kingdom of Israel. He occupies a central position in Jewish and Christian musical tradition.

The story of David is told in the books of Samuel, dating from nearly contemporary sources, and 1 Chronicles, from the 4th century bce, containing material of somewhat lesser reliability. He was obviously a man of special talent. Born the youngest son of Jesse (Yishai), a sheep herder from Bethlehem, he acquired, by a combination of prowess at arms, vision, opportunism and force of personality, the kingship of Judah upon the death of Saul, united it to the northern provinces of Israel, established his court at Jerusalem and conquered the neighbouring rivals of Israel within an area stretching from the frontier of Mesopotamia to Egypt. His political achievement, which showed signs of disintegration in his later life, was never again equalled in ancient Israel. Thus he became the ideal of Jewish kingship and was also closely related to the Messianic ideal. These ideals carried over into Christianity so that a medieval ruler like Charlemagne was referred to as the ‘novus David’, and Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Christians accepted as the Messiah, was, according to the Gospels, the ‘son of David’ of the ‘tree of Jesse’....

Article

Gudrun Engberg

revised by Alexander Lingas

(b Emesa [now Homs], Syria, late 5th century; d Constantinople, after 555). Byzantine hymnographer and composer. Perhaps of Jewish descent, he was a deacon in the Church of the Resurrection in Beirut and towards the end of the 5th century went to Constantinople, where he served at the Church of the Virgin in the city’s Kyros quarter. A hymn in Romanos’s honour mentions his acquaintance with the imperial court. He may have become famous during his lifetime, since an almost contemporary papyrus fragment containing part of a well-known hymn by him has been found in Egypt. It is, however, uncertain whether he was the ‘presbyteros’ and ‘ekklēsiekdikos’ mentioned in the acts of the Synod of 536. He was canonized and is commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on 1 October as the patron saint of music.

Romanos’s vita is lost, but summaries are transmitted in Byzantine synaxaria and menologia, according to which Romanos was inspired by the Virgin to write ...

Article

Avigdor Herzog

The tradition of sacred vocal (synagogue) music of the Samaritans, a religious community (which in 1999 numbered about 640), living in Nablus (Shechem) and Holon near Tel-Aviv. They claim descent from the ancient Israelites, and their music and the manner of its performance have many apparently archaic features. The Samaritans differ from the Jews in a number of ways, recognizing only the Pentateuch as canonical (and no other books of the Bible) and regarding Mt Gerizim (near Nablus) rather than Jerusalem as the supreme holy place (see John iv.20).

Samaritan music is an oral tradition sung at synagogue services and at other religious and social gatherings. It consists of performances of literary texts (the Pentateuch and prayers in Hebrew, and hymns in Samaritan Aramaic) and is sung only by men. Although old manuscripts contain Samaritan biblical accents for guiding the reading of the texts, these are no longer used today. Samaritan music can be divided into three categories: songs sung by the whole community; those sung by both a soloist and the community; and solo songs. The group songs are more syllabic in style and rhythmically repetitious, and have fewer glissandos and tremolos than solo music. They are sometimes sung in unison, but mostly antiphonally, the worshippers being divided into two groups, one on the right-hand side of the synagogue facing Mt Gerizim, the other on the left; the former group is termed the ‘right’ or ‘upper’ group, the latter the ‘left’ or ‘lower’ group. Alternate groups of verses drawn from the Pentateuch (called ‘Qataf’), or important hymns (in Samaritan Aramaic) are taken by the two groups, beginning with the ‘right’ group together with the priests; each group begins as the other reaches approximately the midpoint of its verses, so that there is an almost continuous bitextual performance. All the group songs are characterized by improvised parallel polyphony, in which all the intervals are at times found, and in which there are also usually drones and notes of indefinite pitch (...

Article

Shofar  

Jeremy Montagu

(Heb., pl. shofarot)

The ram's horn of the Bible; it is the only ancient Jewish liturgical instrument that survived the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 ce and is still in use. For a discussion of the shofar in biblical times, see Biblical instruments, §3, (x); see also Jewish music, §II.

In post-biblical times, the shofar was still widely used for signalling, not only as an alarm but also with some symbolical intent on occasions of natural or man-made catastrophe such as droughts, famine or raging inflation. It was also used on occasions of rejoicing and jubilation (the word ‘jubilee’ is derived from the name of a special form of the instrument, the shofar ha-yovel), a practice still in use today among the Sephardim.

The Ashkenazim, however, use the shofar only during the month of Ellul, on Rosh Hashanah (New Year; the first day of the following month) and Yom Kippur. On Rosh Hashanah it is blown at several points during the service, symbolically to call Israel together and to summon all Jews to repentance and to God; all adult male Jews are under obligation to hear the shofar on this day. Four calls are blown in varying combinations at each point (...