Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lamentations 5 - with a rare characteristic in the accents

Lamentations has already given us 4 daring and poetic chapters, each one an acrostic, chapters 1, 2, and 4 of 22 verses, and chapter 3 of 66 verses, a triple acrostic.

A characteristic of this chapter 5 is that there is no rest throughout. Not one verse has a midpoint atnach. I suspect this is unique in the whole Bible. Chapter 3 is similar but it has 1 atnach in its 66 verses. It is on verse 56 - קוֹלִ֖י שָׁמָ֑עְתָּ Quest of mine (my voice) you heard.

Perhaps you have some doubts about the role of punctuation in music, but here the role of the atnach is proven by its absence from almost two entire chapters. The rest that this sign creates is a sense of cadence in the music, a repose in the subdominant. Why does this work? Something to do with the vibrations per second in relationship to the tonic which is the 'home' chord. Each verse is like a life, with a beginning and end on the tonic, and most verses (90%) have a mid point signaled by the atnach. It is always on a significant word and sense in the verse. It is a good reason for the traditional 2 beat silence in traditional plainsong. The word on this focus cadence is what the verse represents and one can repose there. So when it is missing, one asks why.

So for instance a short verse like those of the narrator introducing the speaker in Job will have no atnach. But these verses of chapter 5 though short, could divide into two easily. They could have been sung as the prior chapters. Yet there is no rest. And this chapter though it has 22 verses is not a poetic game. It is not an acrostic. But is it a musical game? Note the form of the music. It is comprised of phrases of two shapes as noted by 1 or 2 in the 5th column below. Phase 1 rises to the sixth, phrase 2 rises only to the fifth. One finds in both, repeated or singly, the ornament called pashta beginning on the reciting note and rising a second. In all phrases of type 1 the subdominant note is just touched on by the ornament, zaqef qatan.

It is to be noted that in Lamentations, like the narrator's part in Job (including the short introductory words to the speeches), the prose set of accents is used. There are therefore also no cadences on the supertonic.

Lamentations 5 Fn Min Max Syll
זְכֹ֤ר יְהוָה֙ מֶֽה־הָ֣יָה לָ֔נוּ הַבִּ֖יטָה וּרְאֵ֥ה אֶת־חֶרְפָּתֵֽנוּ 1 Remember Yahweh how it is for us. Take note and see our reproach. 3e 4C 19
נַחֲלָתֵ֙נוּ֙ נֶֽהֶפְכָ֣ה לְזָרִ֔ים בָּתֵּ֖ינוּ לְנָכְרִֽים 2 Our inheritance is changed for strangers, our houses for aliens. 3e 4B 17
יְתוֹמִ֤ים הָיִ֙ינוּ֙ וְאֵ֣ין אָ֔ב אִמֹּתֵ֖ינוּ כְּאַלְמָנֽוֹת 3 We have become orphans and without a father, our mothers as widows. 3e 4C 17
מֵימֵ֙ינוּ֙ בְּכֶ֣סֶף שָׁתִ֔ינוּ עֵצֵ֖ינוּ בִּמְחִ֥יר יָבֹֽאוּ 4 Our water for money we imbibe. Our trees come at a price. 3e 4B 16
עַ֤ל צַוָּארֵ֙נוּ֙ נִרְדָּ֔פְנוּ יָגַ֖עְנוּ וְלֹ֥א הֽוּנַ֖ח‬ לָֽנוּ 5 C On our necks persecution, we labour and there is no rest for us. 3e 4C 17
מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ נָתַ֣נּוּ יָ֔ד אַשּׁ֖וּר לִשְׂבֹּ֥עַֽ לָֽחֶם 6 To Egypt we give a hand. To Ashur, to be satisfied with bread. 3e 4B 13
אֲבֹתֵ֤ינוּ חָֽטְאוּ֙ וְאֵינָ֔ם וַאֲנַ֖חְנוּ עֲוֺנֹתֵיהֶ֥ם סָבָֽלְנוּ 7 Our ancestors sinned and there is no them, but we ourselves bear the burden of their iniquities. 3e 4C 21
עֲבָדִים֙ מָ֣שְׁלוּ בָ֔נוּ פֹּרֵ֖ק אֵ֥ין מִיָּדָֽם 8 Servants govern among us. There is no one to rend from their hand. 3e 4B 13
בְּנַפְשֵׁ֙נוּ֙ נָבִ֣יא לַחְמֵ֔נוּ מִפְּנֵ֖י חֶ֥רֶב הַמִּדְבָּֽר 9 We are, ourselves, come to our bread in the face of the sword in the wilderness. 3e 4B 16
עוֹרֵ֙נוּ֙ כְּתַנּ֣וּר נִכְמָ֔רוּ מִפְּנֵ֖י זַלְעֲפ֥וֹת רָעָֽב 10 Our skin is like an oven, fevered in the face of ferocious famine. 3e 4B 16
נָשִׁים֙ בְּצִיּ֣וֹן עִנּ֔וּ בְּתֻלֹ֖ת בְּעָרֵ֥י יְהוּדָֽה 11 They afflicted women in Zion, the virgins of the cities of Judah. 3e 4B 16
שָׂרִים֙ בְּיָדָ֣ם נִתְל֔וּ פְּנֵ֥י זְקֵנִ֖ים לֹ֥א נֶהְדָּֽרוּ 12 Nobility by their hand are hanged. The faces of the elders they do not honour. 3e 4B 16
בַּחוּרִים֙ טְח֣וֹן נָשָׂ֔אוּ וּנְעָרִ֖ים בָּעֵ֥ץ כָּשָֽׁלוּ 13 They bear youths in their prime to grind, and the lads stumble under the tree. 3e 4B 16
זְקֵנִים֙ מִשַּׁ֣עַר שָׁבָ֔תוּ בַּחוּרִ֖ים מִנְּגִינָתָֽם 14 The elders from the gate have ceased, youths in their prime, from their strings. 3e 4B 16
שָׁבַת֙ מְשׂ֣וֹשׂ לִבֵּ֔נוּ נֶהְפַּ֥ךְ לְאֵ֖בֶל מְחֹלֵֽנוּ 15 Ceased is the joy of our heart, changed to lament is our dance. 3e 4B 16
נָֽפְלָה֙ עֲטֶ֣רֶת רֹאשֵׁ֔נוּ אֽוֹי־נָ֥א לָ֖נוּ כִּ֥י חָטָֽאנוּ 16 Fallen is the crown of our head. Woe now to us because we have sinned. 3e 4B 16
עַל־זֶ֗ה הָיָ֤ה דָוֶה֙ לִבֵּ֔נוּ עַל־אֵ֖לֶּה חָשְׁכ֥וּ עֵינֵֽינוּ 17 For this our heart has become infirm for these are our darkened eyes. 3e 4C 17
עַ֤ל הַר־צִיּוֹן֙ שֶׁשָּׁמֵ֔ם שׁוּעָלִ֖ים הִלְּכוּ־בֽוֹ 18 C On the hill of Zion is desolation. Foxes walk on it. 3e 4C 12
אַתָּ֤ה יְהוָה֙ לְעוֹלָ֣ם תֵּשֵׁ֔ב כִּסְאֲךָ֖ לְדֹ֥ר וָדֽוֹר 19 You, Yahweh, persist for ever, your throne from generation to generation. 3e 4C 16
לָ֤מָּה לָנֶ֙צַח֙ תִּשְׁכָּחֵ֔נוּ תַּֽעַזְבֵ֖נוּ לְאֹ֥רֶךְ יָמִֽים 20 C Why in perpetuity do you forget us and forsake us for such a length of days? 3e 4C 18
הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ יְהוָ֤ה ׀ אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ וְֽנָשׁ֔וּבָה חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ כְּקֶֽדֶם 21 Turn us Yahweh, to you, and we will be turned. Make new our days as of old. 3e 4C 21
כִּ֚י אִם־מָאֹ֣ס מְאַסְתָּ֔נוּ קָצַ֥פְתָּ עָלֵ֖ינוּ עַד־מְאֹֽד 22 C Because if to refuse, you refuse us, you are raging over us very severely. 3e 4C 17

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