Wednesday 31 October 2012

Quomodo sedit sola civitas

Lamentations 1:1

Alephאֵיכָה יָשְׁבָה
בָדָד הָעִיר
רַבָּתִי עָם
הָיְתָה כְּאַלְמָנָה
רַבָּתִי בַגֹּויִם
שָׂרָתִי בַּמְּדִינֹות
הָיְתָה לָמַס ס
Ah how solitary
sits the city
Filled with people
she became as a widow
Filled from the nations
Princess among the provinces
she came into forced service

Image HT Exploring our Matrix here.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

A parish just around the corner

An Anglican parish just around the corner from me was recently seriously divided by current affairs. The dissenting folks left the parish. (These were the ones who didn't believe in Psalm singing.) This is always emotionally painful and financially difficult.

Well, it turns out that this little parish owned 2 chairs valued in the '90s at about $2000. It was discovered that they were 17th century genuine Ming dynasty chairs. I see in our Diocesan Post that the parish has netted $615,000 for them. The amount paid was in excess of 750,000.

Blessings to the parish that accepts all in the name of Christ.

For one reason or another I don't worship there. My parish is actually closer. (And higher.) Story here.

Integrated (again)

I am happy to report that my posts on blogger now feed twitter, facebook, and the biblioblog reference library.

I have also found the reference library feed, but it seems not possible to read it on Google reader (where the history stops 2011.11). The feed is also on twitter under @BibBlogRefLib.

So my techy pieces are altogether for the November Biblical Studies Carnival which will be hosted here on Dust. Of this more later... after the appearance of the October carnival which we await with bated breath from BLT. That's Bible, Literature, and Translation - a blog of which I can say
וירא בב את־הבלוג כי־טוב

An introduction to the te`amim

I have put a pdf of a very brief introduction to the music inherent in the te`amim of the Hebrew text here.

I have included several musical examples and some explanation of how to see and interpret the deciphering key.

David Mitchell’s article gives this summary of the earliest hard evidence for the te’amim/
  1. Cantillation marks per se are found in 2nd millennium BCE in Sumerian literature. They are found on biblical texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Babylonian and Palestinian accent systems, and are referred to in the Talmud. 
  2. However, the Masoretic system stands apart from its predecessors in its sudden appearance as a highly perfected system. 
  3.  By the testimony of Mosheh Ben Asher himself, the Masoretes received the te‘amim from the second-century BCE Elders of Bathyra. This conforms to the Masoretic credo of not innovating but preserving. 
  4.  The Masoretes’ rabbanite contemporaries – Natronai b. Hilai and Sa‘adia – objected to the Masoretes’ work not because the te‘amim were a novelty, but because they thought them ancient but sealed. 
  5.  The similarity of the Masoretic te‘amim to the symbols of a third century BCE text of Euripides shows that they are indeed musical symbols of pre-Christian times. For the Masoretes to have invented them would be as anachronistic as for us annotate a Bible in runes. 
It is difficult to believe that an unexplained and self-contradictory system of ‘punctuation’ could give rise to such beautiful and appropriate music. The musical interpretation of the signs never varies. The implications of the love song are manifold.

I was going to post this on Nov 1 - but I want to test my integration with twitter and the biblioblog reference library before then.

Friday 26 October 2012

The Monster Polypheme

Some days the fragility of creation presents itself on our doorstep - or windowsill. A thump was heard and my son Jeremy said,
- O dear, there's a dead bird on your roof. He's going to fall into the eave.
and Mum said
- leave it, it's been drinking - all that ripe fruit - it'll wake up.
We pondered if it was alive, this 'dead bug' lying on its back, white belly fir fluffed over its legs. Minutes pass. There seems to be a pulse.
- hey - he's moved over to his feet
and sure enough, its claws caught the roof and it didn't fall into the eave.
- but some predator could still snatch him up in a flash, I said, - I don't want that happening here.

But it was too far away to reach. I thought of attaching a spoon to my cane and lifting it from the drizzle into the warmth of the inside.
- no, said Jeremy - he'll just fly up into your ceiling and you won't be able to get him down.

He had a point - a scared bird inside can do a lot of damage, and we had just had the place cleaned.
We wondered if its wings were hurt or if it had broken its neck.

But I was getting my cane and Jeremy suggested instead the broom handle and a wicker basket. Mum was looking in the book to identify it - a warbler, a wren, - someone can tell us. It moved again, looking as if it might be getting stronger - waking up.

We removed the mop-head and attached the wicker basket with duct tape to the mop - a beautiful carriage from our point of view. I set it down gently next to the patient, ready to cover it if some crow or gull decided this was a nice meal. We put a few toasted pumpkin seeds in it - but that bird just looked - caption anyone?

Then after 10 minutes of coaxing, losing all the pumpkin seeds in the eaves-trough one at a time, talking bird talk in a cooing and chirping sort of way, it suddenly leaped out of reach and in a flash was across to the trees in the distance.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Kill the Organs

This is a must read - a fix for all those congregations with declining numbers.

Original do(ut) - re - mi

This is a brilliant image - from Solfege - a six note scale for this song. How could I invent a similar system for the te`amim?  I should look for a rising scale motif in the Hebrew text - right! Who will find such a scale?

Tuesday 23 October 2012

What Sesame Street Means to Me

To Me - Moi - to Cookie Monster. Now who would cut funding for Sesame Street and force the equivalent of a voluntary tax on many who may not be in a position to pay!

You can see the oven is just ready to bear its fruit.

Peanut butter cookies with two chocolate chip eyes (medicine).

And there they are - all 24 of them, a small batch. 3/4 a cup of brown sugar, 1/2 a cup of shortening, 1/2 cup peanut butter (1/4 leftover, 1/4 from a new batch - that's not in the recipe), 1 cup of flour, 1 egg,  1 tsp vanilla, bit of salt, 1/2 tsp of baking soda - hmmm same initials as Biblical Studies, something to make them rise up.
Mix together the shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar and vanilla (and beaten egg). Add the flour, salt and baking powder (sifted). Stir and put away in the fridge for 1/2 to 6 hours. (1/2 hour was plenty). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Add chocolate eyes (optional). Bake for 10 minutes (or 11).

I did the whole thing with one bowl and one spoon. Could have used a beater of one kind or another, but couldn't decide which one to use :|

or try this: 1 cup peanut butter, 2/3 cup of sugar (mix brown and white), 1 egg - beat, heat, and cook as above...

Psalm 65 - vs 6 (5 English)

נ֤וֹרָא֨וֹת ׀ בְּצֶ֣דֶק תַּֽ֭עֲנֵנוּ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׁעֵ֑נוּ
מִבְטָ֥ח כָּל־קַצְוֵי־אֶ֝֗רֶץ וְיָ֣ם רְחֹקִֽים
Fearful things in righteousness you will answer us O God of our salvation
the trust of all the extremes of the earth and remote sea

The 'hope' (traditional translation) of all the ends of the earth is not a particular nation. Nationalism is insufficient for such a focus.

I've never felt able to define 'hope'. I use 'trust' here anyway. Trust is present. Hope is a future oriented trust, a confidence that trust can continue. It's encouraging to me that the ends of the earth and the remote sea, i.e. the peoples thereof, are not without sense.

Monday 22 October 2012

Comparing Psalm 133 and 141

How odd to think that one of the Psalms scrolls has Psalm 133 sandwiched between 141 and 144 (11QPsa JBL Vol. 131, No.3 Ryan Armstrong p 502). I thought it would be fun to see all the shared words between these two psalms. Possibly their juxtaposition could be for a liturgical use.

I haven't done this sort of thing for a while - curious.  Each pair shares 8 words (excluding a few very common ones). The juxtaposition of the first pair highlights pleasant - oil - head - collar and the second pair - running down - collar - mountains - blessing.

Selected words occurring in each of psalms 133,141
Word and gloss * first usage12345678VsStem
לדוד of David
נעים pleasant it is
יחד one
כשׁמן as the oil
הראשׁ the head
פי the collar of
כי for
יהוה יהוה
לדוד of David
יהוה יהוה
יהוה יהוה
לפי on my mouth
במנעמיהם in their pleasures
שׁמן oil on
ראשׁ a head
ראשׁי my head
כי for
כי for
נעמו they are pleasant
לפי to the mouth of
כי for
יהוה יהוה
יחד as one
We can also see how 133 compares to 144

Selected words occurring in each of psalms 133,144

Word and gloss * first usage12345678VsStem
שׁיר a song
לדוד of David
מה how
ומה and how
ירד running down
שׁירד running down
פי the collar of
שׁירד running down
הררי the mountains of
יהוה יהוה
הברכה the blessing
לדוד of David
ברוך blessed is
יהוה יהוה
יהוה יהוה
מה what
יהוה יהוה
ותרד and come down
בהרים hills
פיהם mouths
שׁיר a song
אשׁירה I will sing
דוד David
פיהם mouths
Psalms 141 and 144 share 14 roots.
Selected words occurring in each of psalms 141,144

Word and gloss * first usage123456789101234VsStem
מזמור a psalm
לדוד of David
יהוה יהוה
לי to me
לך to you
יהוה יהוה
לפי on my mouth
תט bend
לדבר to a word of
רע evil
אלחם let me partake
חסד kindness
ברעותיהם in their evils
בידי by means of
לפי to the mouth of
יהוה יהוה
חסיתי I take refuge
מידי from the means of
לי me
אעבור pass over
לדוד of David
יהוה יהוה
ידי my hands
למלחמה to war
חסדי my loving-kindness
לי mine
חסיתי I have taken refuge
יהוה יהוה
עובר passing away
יהוה יהוה
הט bend
ידיך your hands
מיד from the hand of
פיהם mouths
דבר speak
לך to you
אזמרה I will sing a psalm
לך to you
דוד David
רעה evil
מיד from the hand of
פיהם mouths
דבר speak

Saturday 20 October 2012

Time - the first mystery

First is relative. Here's an interesting note on Science and Theology from the BBC (HT Entangled States).

I look on time, consciousness, and gravity as three big unknowns. If we could only explain these, we could overstand creation.

Augustine of Hippo, in his Confessions, writes:
What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I wish to explain to one who asks, I know not. 
Time just is. Somehow we are aware of all those things that show its passing. No one gets more of it per day than anyone else. We can’t see it. We can measure it and it changes us, yet we remain the same person we were as a child. Listen in common speech for all the arguments and for all the things that are based on time. Listen for these words: now, then, after, before, growing, fading, evolving, learning, remembering, generation, predictability, experiment. This list might get very long.

A great many of the laws of science contain a dependency on time. That the laws of science are discoverable is an indication that time is somewhat predictable. Time is directly related to the first act of creation in the Book of Genesis. It seems that God spoke and time was. It seems that God implicitly submitted to time and and its corollary, memory, as contained in the fragments of ‘the depths’. Science notes the memory of the birth of time in the background microwave radiation in the universe. We know (via Einstein's theory of special relativity) that theoretically, we can stop time by moving at the speed of light. And light was, according to the love song, the first thing created.
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר
Genesis 1:3. And Elohim said, let light be, and light  was.
How do we know it is the third verse? The music tells us. The text of each verse generally starts on the tonic and finishes on the tonic. And it rests in the middle of each verse at the sub-dominant (but not always). At this point in Genesis we have twice rested and twice begun and twice finished. And the third is God speaking and time being created. I can say that the creation of time is noted in the third verse because time is dependent on light.

And here’s something to note about music. Music subtends time. A performance can be as powerful as moving at the speed of light. Time is not dilated, but it is held together by the performance as a single unit. Drama, dance, poetry and liturgy have a similar effect. Our minds are attuned to rhythm, pace, rhetoric, pulse, tone, and timbre. All these things are held in the music that is contained in a compact score in the signs above and below the Biblical text. The music slows us down to hear the text one jot, one letter, one syllable, one word at a time.

Friday 19 October 2012

Common incipits in the Psalms

I am part way through examining common phrases in the Psalms - here is the music of the first verses of the Psalms with the Do Not Destroy title.
Sing it - the first is in that off-kilter mode with the sharpened atenach. The second is as plain as can be. The third is ornamented. The forth is the only 'psalm' and the only 'song'. The first three are labelled 'miktam'.

For comparison here are the first 11 incipits.
The last on this page is very similar to the first mizmor le-Asaph (Psalm 50). It contains a very common intermediate cadence in the psalms.

I wonder about the why's and wherefore's of these patterns - now audible.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Moses' complaint - Numbers 11

This text arises in Tim Bulkeley's Not Only a Father Paragraph 2.5-9.

I am struck by the vehemence of Moses argument and the music bears it out. Yet as well, there is mother imagery for YHWH that one might overlook in the lament.

Moses begins by raising his voice. The song is punctuated at key points by a high C reminding us of the opening statement.  The ornamentation carries the C to a D three times - at the emotional high points: 1. the initial lament, 2. the weeping of the people for flesh, 3. Moses conditional request to be slain.

The full text and music is here. The standard mode appears to work OK. The descending augmented thirds are a little tricky to sing at first.

Monday 15 October 2012

Psalm 44 - the 'we' are in trouble

It's Blog Action Day and the conveners are probably wondering if we bloggers will get the point they were hoping we would get from their tag -'the power of we'. Maybe I didn't.

I have been studying the Psalms for nearly 7 years. A book is pending publication, 525 pages on the patterns of word recurrence in the Hebrew text. Also in the embryonic stage are books on the music implied in the te'amim, those little marks that could be made with two hands, perhaps implying hand signals for the notes of a scale and ornamentation, a compact musical score. Here's a rapid intro to the do-re-mi. The resulting music is striking and often tender even when you might expect an angry old man in the skies. And who are we to complain if the condemnation of our actions is in song rather than in fire?

The first we, the first usage of first-person plural in the Bible is in Genesis 1:26. Notice the last two letters of the last two words (reading from right to left) in the following text. Also note the 'n' in the first letter of the third word. These affixes signify the first person plural in their context. The final letters of the last two words both make the sound 'nu' expressed in our latin letters.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ
And God said, Let us make humanity in our image as our likeness

The music of this phrase begins on the tonic ('mi') and ends on the sub-dominant ('la'), a place of 'rest' mid-verse. You can hear the whole of Genesis 1 impeccably and exquisitely sung by Esther Lamandier here. This particular verse (1:26) is at location 8:46 in the recording.

The tension between the individual and the corporate is as evident in the Bible as it is to us today. The question is - who's in charge? This is an ancient question. The one who is from the dust, the human created in the image and as the likeness of God, is both singular and plural. The problem of governance and of the consequences of domination rather than service is evident on every page of history, whatever your tradition. 

One particular tradition is raised up as an example for us. David, a commendable individual in some ways, is a ruler of Israel who is put forward as a sin offering in Psalm 51, showing us just how much personal desire can ruin a tender heart. 

'Adam', that exemplar human, almost immediately find themselves exiled from the garden. The people, Israel, give us a history of trouble, escape, wilderness wanderings, struggle against enemies, greed, self-aggrandizement, idolatry, exile. 

Does any of this resonate with us, individually or corporately. The trouble of the city, our expression of corporate humanity, is nowhere more poignantly told in the Bible than in the Lamentations of Jeremiah.  
Ah how solitary sits the city
Filled with people she became as a widow 
Filled from the nations 
Princess among the provinces she came into forced service
Four of these five chapters are alphabetic acrostics. The city is addressed in chapters 1 and 2. In chapter 3, a valiant  individual speaks on behalf of all. In chapter 4 the fate of the people is again addressed. All four of these acrostics have a deliberate error in them. The letters Peh and Ayin are reversed. The order of the world is out of joint.

A similar tension between first-person singular and plural is found in the Psalms at the beginning of Book 2. Psalm 42, 
As a hart yearns over a watercourse
so my being yearns for you, O God
and its continuation, Psalm 43. 
Judge me O God, and strive my strife
with a nation without one who is merciful
From a deceitful and unjust person secure me

These two psalms are expressed as lament in the first person singular. Psalm 44 is striking with its first person plural. The sound of  'nu', a sound that frames the whole poem, is heard 40 times. 
You set us up as a reproach to our neighbours
derision and ridicule to those around us
You set us up as a proverb among the nations
a nodding of a head among the tribes

The 'we' are in plenty of trouble. How did 'we' get to this state? It is not a lack of religion. It is not a matter of intellectual assent to a doctrine and damn the rest of humanity that does not so assent. Is there a clue in the image and as the likeness of God that would help us govern ourselves corporately without recourse to the me-first or me-only mentality that is so destructive of the one, the enemy, the other, who appears to be not like me?

It seems very difficult to give an answer to this perennial question. At least it is not an answer that satisfies. Yet rather than forced service, one might find the image in voluntary service. But you object, voluntary service will be taken advantage of, and will displace necessary jobs. Yes - from a human point of view, I agree. Is there no solution then?  It seems impossible without the help of a source that is outside of our own desires. People do name this source as 'God'.

Perhaps it is possible to walk through the fiery swords that separate us from such a Governor... Perhaps the sword is a song. Then maybe our cities will come to resemble the promised city of God (Psalms 48 and 87).  I think there are many who do sing such a song. One is being sung now in a hospital somewhere in England over the wounds of a young woman, Malala Yousafzai.

Look at Psalm 87. No one is excluded. Consider the list of enemies: Rahab (monster) , Babylon (confusion), Philistia (one who rolls in the dust), Tyre (the hard-nosed) and Ethiopia (the children of Ham). They are all in this same city - all born there. Could the violent learn love over fear? Could our corporations learn responsibility and mercy to their resources? Oh my rose spectacles. Self-giving triumph over self-preservation?

I have added Psalm 44 to my worked out psalms. I have not tried to sing it yet. The modes are very strange. The mid-verse is often an A#, finding no rest. But exile is an undesirable state of affairs. Perhaps we will find rest in the middle of each troubled verse when we stop exiling each other in the name of the image and according to the likeness in which we are imprinted. There might be power in what we stop doing.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Esther - the post

It is with great pleasure that I note this post from the Velveteen Rabbi Rachel Barenblat on another Rachel's blog. Rabbi Rachel writes a succinct and accurate review of Esther - farce and comedy, but with a hidden core of ultimate reality.

Christians who cannot read (a frequent occurrence) do well to realize that the Hebrew and Aramaic Jewish heritage that we have needs to be read closely and accurately. Then it will be seen in all its charism for what it is, a hidden reality itself that we need to hear as do all, Jew and Christian alike.

I decided not to translate Esther - but I had fun with some verbal analysis and the first chapter.

Monday 8 October 2012

Dynamic Equivalence sucks

I did sing a verse of the lesson in Hebrew on Sunday - it sure got people's attention. The full-house went silent. It was hard to imagine reading the rather flat Revised English Bible as if it were a love song, so I changed it as I read - just a little, to restore the cadence. And when I began verse 14, some air unexpectedly crept into my voice  - I found myself using a sort of microphone tone - and the potential harshness of the recital of God's acts was alleviated.

Dynamic Equivalence can only be equivalent if you know what is going on. I am assuming that people don't know what is going on, life and words and music being what they are. Yes there are mechanics and certain predictable results, but who really knows what time is, or gravity, or consciousness. So I say to the translators, hold your hermeneutic. You may be wrong.

Compare REB with the Hebrew. Notice how the pulse of the phrases is broken in the REB. There is no other word for it. The pulse is toast. This dynamic equivalence is neither dynamic nor equivalent.  Then notice how many hermeneutical moves are made to force a particular reading. It is a harsh reading. Then note how the close translation attempts to keep a reasonable concordance, the play on 'brought out', the potential terror of torrents, the allusion to Genesis in the depths, (note the ornaments in the music on water, springs, and depths), the play on 'keeping' - take care הִשָּׁ֣מֶר vs not caring שְׁמֹ֤ר.  Note where REB repeats what is not repeated, as if remembering that rhetoric is important, but making up its own.  Note where it fails to repeat, e.g. verse 13 with its threefold repetition of רבּה. I am of two minds whether the gold and silver 'belongs' to the people, or not (gold and silver have I none). I think it is well to interpret it (I do have my own axes) as not 'belonging' to the people. And in verse 14 - where is the commandment, where the imperative? Did I miss something? Perhaps it is hidden in the negative conditional פֶּן of verse 12.

ChVsHebrewClose TranslationREB
8:06וְשָׁ֣מַרְתָּ֔ אֶת־מִצְו֖‍ֹת יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ
לָלֶ֥כֶת בִּדְרָכָ֖יו וּלְיִרְאָ֥ה אֹתֽוֹ
And you will keep the commandments of YHWH your God,
to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
Keep the commandments of the LORD your God,
conforming to his ways and fearing him
8:07כִּ֚י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ מְבִֽיאֲךָ֖ אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ טוֹבָ֑ה
אֶ֚רֶץ נַ֣חֲלֵי מָ֗֔יִם עֲיָנֹת֙ וּתְהֹמֹ֔ת יֹֽצְאִ֥ים בַּבִּקְעָ֖ה וּבָהָֽר
For YHWH your God is ushering you into a land that is good,
a land of torrents of water, of springs and depths, brought out in valley and hill;
The LORD your God is bringing you to a good land,
a land with streams, springs, and underground waters gushing out in valley and hill, 
8:08אֶ֤רֶץ חִטָּה֙ וּשְׂעֹרָ֔ה וְגֶ֥פֶן וּתְאֵנָ֖ה וְרִמּ֑וֹן
אֶֽרֶץ־זֵ֥ית שֶׁ֖מֶן וּדְבָֽשׁ
a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates;
a land of olive, oil, and honey;
a land with wheat and barley, vines, fig trees, and pomegranates,
a land with olive oil and honey
8:09אֶ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹ֤א בְמִסְכֵּנֻת֙ תֹּֽאכַל־בָּ֣הּ לֶ֔חֶם
לֹֽא־תֶחְסַ֥ר כֹּ֖ל בָּ֑הּ
אֶ֚רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲבָנֶ֣יהָ בַרְזֶ֔ל וּמֵֽהֲרָרֶ֖יהָ תַּחְצֹ֥ב נְחֹֽשֶׁת
a land in which you, without scarcity, will eat bread,
you will not lack in it;
a land whose stones are iron, and from the hills yonder you may dig copper.
It is a land where you will never suffer any scarcity of food to eat,
nor want for anything,
a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper.
8:10וְאָֽכַלְתָּ֖ וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ
וּבֵֽרַכְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ עַל־הָאָ֥רֶץ הַטֹּבָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָֽתַן־לָֽךְ
And you will eat and you will be satisfied, and you will bless YHWH your God for the land that is good which he has given you.When you have plenty to eat, bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you
8:11הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֔ פֶּן־תִּשְׁכַּ֖ח אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ
לְבִלְתִּ֨י שְׁמֹ֤ר מִצְו‍ֹתָיו֙ וּמִשְׁפָּטָ֣יו וְחֻקֹּתָ֔יו אֲשֶׁ֛ר אָֽנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּֽוֹם
Take care lest you forget YHWH your God
not caring for his commandments or his judgments or his statutes which I have commanded you today;
See that you do not forget the LORD your God
by failing to keep his commandments, laws, and statutes which I give to you this day.
8:12יב פֶּן־תֹּאכַ֖ל וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ
וּבָתִּ֥ים טֹבִ֛ים תִּבְנֶ֖ה וְיָשָֽׁבְתָּ
lest when you have eaten and you are satisfied,
and you have built good houses, and you sit there;
When you have plenty to eat
and live in fine houses of your own building
8:13וּבְקָֽרְךָ֤ וְצֹֽאנְךָ֙ יִרְבְּיֻ֔ן וְכֶ֥סֶף וְזָהָ֖ב יִרְבֶּה־לָּ֑ךְ
וְכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־לְךָ֖ יִרְבֶּֽה
and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and silver and gold is multiplied for you, and all that you have is multiplied;when your herds and flocks, your silver and gold, and all your possession increase
8:14וְרָ֖ם לְבָבֶ֑ךָ
וְשָֽׁכַחְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ הַמּוֹצִֽיאֲךָ֛ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם מִבֵּ֥ית עֲבָדִֽים
then high is your heart, and you forget YHWH your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt, the house of servitude;do not become proud and forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of that land of slavery
8:15הַמּוֹלִ֨יכְךָ֜ בַּמִּדְבָּ֣ר ׀ הַגָּדֹ֣ל וְהַנּוֹרָ֗א נָחָ֤שׁ ׀ שָׂרָף֙ וְעַקְרָ֔ב וְצִמָּא֖וֹן אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֵֽין־מָ֑יִם
הַמּוֹצִ֤יא לְךָ֙ מַ֔יִם מִצּ֖וּר הַֽחַלָּמִֽישׁ
who led you through the wilderness great and fearful, serpent, fiery serpent, and scorpion, and thirst, where there is no water; who brought you water from the rock of flint;he led you through the vast and terrible wilderness infested with venomous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty, waterless land where he caused water to flow for you from the flinty rock
8:16הַמַּאֲכִ֨לְךָ֥ מָן֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־יָדְע֖וּן אֲבֹתֶ֑יךָ
לְמַ֣עַן עַנֹּֽתְךָ֗ וּלְמַ֨עַן֙ נַסֹּתֶ֔ךָ לְהֵיטִֽבְךָ֖ בְּאַֽחֲרִיתֶֽךָ
who fed you manna in the wilderness, which your ancestors did not know,
so that he might afflict you, and so that he might prove you, to make you prosper in the end;
he fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers had never known,
to humble and test you, and in the end to make you prosper
8:17וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֖ בִּלְבָבֶ֑ךָ כֹּחִי֙ וְעֹ֣צֶם יָדִ֔י עָ֥שָׂה לִ֖י אֶת־הַחַ֥יִל הַזֶּֽהand you say in your heart: 'My power and the bones of my hand have made for me this wealth.'Nor must you say to yourselves, 'My own strength and energy have gained me this wealth.'
8:18וְזָֽכַרְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ כִּ֣י ה֗וּא הַנֹּתֵ֥ן לְךָ֛ כֹּ֖חַ לַֽעֲשׂ֣וֹת חָ֑יִל
לְמַ֨עַן הָקִ֧ים אֶת־בְּרִית֛וֹ אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּ֥ע לַֽאֲבֹתֶ֖יךָ כַּיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה פ
But you will remember YHWH your God, for it is he that gives you power to make wealth, that he may ratify his covenant which he swore unto your ancestors, as it is this day.Remember the LORD your God; it is he who gives you strength to become prosperous, so fulfilling the covenant guaranteed by oath with your forefathers, as he does to this day.

Psalm 29 and the Chromatic Phrygian

Suzanne Haik-Vantoura's suggested modes for psalms are quite surprising. The one she names chromatic phrygian (here) is B chromatic minor with a flattened second and a tonic fourth. How's that! said the cricketer, expecting an out call, but not getting one.

Strange that it actually seems to 'work' and though strange at first, it is not completely foreign to the ear. Psalm 29 begins with a common incipit ending on the normal A sub-dominant, and shared by both David (Psalm 15) and Asaph (Psalm 50). Then SHV suggests that strange mode as its rendition, effectively sharpening the atenach so that it no longer comes to rest mid-verse. What more should be inferred? [Ignore apparent note values in her transcription.]

I hope soon to look at Psalms 29 and 93 - both assigned this mode, to hear and see what it seems to imply.

Friday 5 October 2012

Blog Action Day 2012


Blog action day 2012 is about 'the power of we'.  Is there such a power? The hashtags are #powerofwe and #bad12 - Last year I wouldn't have known what a hash-tag was. I learned that from the Raonic ad (that's Milos, the Canadian tennis star).

Anyway - are you writing for Blog Action Day? As far as I know, I am not going to writing on current politics. Instead, I am thinking of writing on the use of first person plural in Psalm 44.

The first person plural is rare in Book 1 (Psalms 1-41) occurring fewer than 20 times,

  • first in Psalm 8 (twice), יהוה our Lord how majestic your name in all the earth. Psalm 8 gives notice that the mortal child of humanity reigns over what יהוה has made.
  • We/our occurs once each in Psalms 12, 17, 18. They seem incidental in the poem - but they are not without interest. 
  • Psalm 12 is another swipe from the kings of Psalm 2 - let us break their bonds  - meaning the kings want to break bonds of יהוה and his anointed. (not the other way around). Who can control the opposition of the tongue that says: with our tongue we will prevail, our lips are ours, who is Lord to us! 
  • The poet of Psalm 17 feels surrounded - our steps now - they surround us. The our is יהוה and the poet, not an amorphous crowd of self or other. 
  • The first person plural creeps in for a brief moment in the long Psalm 18: for who is God apart from יהוה? and who a rock except our God?
  • Psalm 20 is the first poem where the people are explicit. The first person plural occurs 4 times ending with יהוה save, let the king answer us in the day of our call. This is not only a prayer for the king but also for the people who pray.
  • In Psalm 22, the individual, aware of the cost of ruling, appeals to the example of the congregation of the past: In you our ancestors trusted
  • In the last verses of Psalm 33, the people again pray for themselves.
  • But the first person plural remains rare in the poems of Book 1, occurring only once more in Psalm 40 where the individual claims: he gave into my mouth a new song, praise to our God, many will see and will fear, and will trust in יהוה.

Then in Book 2, the first person plural breaks out in full - 40 times in Psalm 44 alone, more than twice as many as in Book 1 taken together.

What power lies here? I don't know what I will write yet - I hope I am able to write about it.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

On the te`amim

This quote from John Wheeler's article as presented to SBL/AAR and IOMS (International Organization of Masoretic Studies) in 2005 identifies the tension in the interpretation of the te`amim
The syntactic paradigm defines the graphemes as a hierarchy of disjunctives and conjunctives. Their forms are distributed haphazardly below and above the words, and also when taken in order of relative strength. 
By contrast, the melodic paradigm defines the graphemes as a series of sublinear degrees of a tonal scale and of superlinear ornaments of one to three tones each. The forms of the graphemes (especially the sublinear ones) appear to be systematic when they are taken in order of musical importance. This is because in the melodic paradigm, the forms of the graphemes are directly related to their melodic meanings.
I find SHV's paradigm - the musical - to be much more compelling than the recent traditional interpretation. Both use the syntax of the Hebrew as a  “virtual bilingual” necessary to define each ta`am and its function.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Psalm 6 - psalmody and Deuteronomy - prosody

Preliminary tests are done and there is a curious result. Deuteronomy 8 made it through Bible Study - but the hearers far preferred the sung Hebrew even though they could not understand it.  This tells me that the English does not flow with the music - that is curious - I am not sure I want to venture an explanation at this time.  But I will - 6 seconds later - perhaps it is the effect of music alone, where in English the hearers are still processing the intellectual content.

Deuteronomy uses the full 8 note scale. The Psalms use a seven note scale - see this post for modes as described by Suzanne Haik-Vantoura.

I have tossed off Psalm 6 - and now I am going to roam for a while - maybe some Proverbs...

But also keeping up the oxygen, golf and tennis...

PDF of Deuteronomy 8 for thanksgiving (Canadian)

Thanksgiving - no time like the present - whatever your hemisphere.

You'll find the old pdf along with the newer ones at the shared location for all the music. (or see this later post)

It's pretty hard to sing unaccompanied - go slow if you try it.  I will test it tonight at Bible study - it seems to work well for me in English - but not all the underlay is very clear. (But it's workable.)

anyway - tell me if you hear any theology in it. I am intrigued by the postponement of the lowest note - on the ratification of the covenant - till the last phrase.  Also verse 12, the appeal for the caring about commandments, judgments, and statutes is poignantly set. Verse 16 is very subdued, as if the problem of evil and growth remains unsingable.

Of course, with the music, you are even more aware that the reading is taken out of context.  The given lectionary reading begins at verse 7. I included verse 6 because of the necessary context of 'commandment', though that is picked up singly by verse 11.

Well - got to get away from the computer and get some sun - so I won't make this easy for you - click the link and sing - Hebrew gets all the notes, English adds or subtracts them as needed for the underlay.

The Bible as a Love Song - Nice bugs and sweet typos

Thanksgiving is coming and the lesson on Sunday is Deuteronomy 8:7-18. I know, be-loved, how difficult it is to read this song of Moses. Yes - it is all song. I have spent 16 hours with these verses transcribing the music from the te'amim. I am astonished at its simple beauty. Every rest on the sub-dominant is telling a story all by itself. The music will soon be available in PDF, but I tell you this, in this short note, because I am so moved.

I lost 4 hours work on it yesterday because of an unexpected bug in saving the file. I looked upon this experience as a bad golf-shot. Positively. It gave me a chance to swing again and take a better approach. I took slightly more than an hour and a half to recover, and during this exercise, I noted an improved way of setting out the Hebrew and English together. Nice bug, eh?

Then at the top of the score, I wrote 'the Boble as Love Song'. And I knew who was laughing with me, Bob. A sweet typo.

Soon, beloved, soon...  But do not be afraid to say thank you in your hearts. There is no foolishness in it. Hearts in Deuteronomy 8:14 and 17 both occur at the rest. The heart in these verses is not praiseworthy, but both are in music that is filled with longing from another that thank-you would not be so difficult.