Singing seems to have become a regular profession at quite early date among the Hebrews. David had his troupe of "singing men and singing women" at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 19:35), and no doubt Solomon added to their numbers. Isaiah 23:16 suggests that it was not uncommon for foreign female minstrels of questionable character to be heard making "sweet melody," singing songs along the streets and highways of Judea. Nor was the worship of the temple left to the usually incompetent and inconstant leadership of amateur choristers. The elaborate regulations drawn up for the constitution of the temple orchestra and chorus are referred to under MUSIC (which see). It has been inferred from Ezra 2:65 that women were included among the temple singers, but this is erroneous, as the musicians there mentioned were of the class employed at banquets, festivals, etc. The temple choir consisted exclusively of Levites, one essential qualification of an active member of that order being a good voice.
Of the vocal method of the Hebrews we know nothing. Wellhausen imagines that he can detect one of the singers, in the portrayal of an Assyrian band, compressing his throat in order to produce a vibrato; and it is quite possible that in other respects as well as this, ancient and modern oriental vocalization resembled each other. But that is about all that can be said.
On the other hand, we cannot repeat too often that we are quite unable to identify any intervals, scales, or tunes as having been used in ancient Israel. Even those who hold that the early church took the Gregorian "tones" from the synagogue, confess that it was "certainly not without considerable modifications." And, of course, there was not the slightest affinity between the Hebrew and the Anglican chant.
See MUSIC; PRAISE; SONG; TEMPLE.
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