Friday, September 11, 2015

When one reads with the music, there is no lack of surprise

It seems easy to say, I know this. What new thing can you tell me?

Even the Preacher says And there is nothing at all new, under the sun.

Well in Psalm 119 part 1 of all places, there is something new this morning. The music is quite unexpected. We all hear Psalms because of Coverdale, and especially Psalm 119, the Aleph part, in fact the whole 22 parts, as bi-cola - two phases per verse. Of course if you don't read the psalms in traditional translations or at all, you won't think that way. But remember the Latin version of Psalm 51 immortalized by Allegri and the King's College high C. My dear sister of blessed memory asked me in her place in Tweed Ontario, Bobbie, who killed the cat?

But this music is not Allegri. It is the music implied by the accents. And perhaps I should promote the revia (*) in this case to a greater significance.

Note this: there is no mid-verse cadence in verses 2, 4, and 5. Believe me when I say this is unusual in a set of 8 verses. I noted before that there is only one rest for the 88 verses of the laments of Lamentations 3 and 5. But this is very rare. In Psalm 119, only 12 of 176 verses have no rest. [Correction: I misread my results - there are 27 in my latest count] And three of them are in this first 8 verses. And they are not symmetric within the poem. Must read this poem again and observe the prosody.

So read it with me: and note the approaches to the rest (on A). Every verse has a unique approach except for the three verses with no rest which are all of the form g-f#-e. We've seen this form before in the introductions to the speeches in Job - but it is an accidental similarity in this case. Something to keep an eye out for, I think.
1. e f# e ^A
2. no rest
3. g e B ^A
4. no rest
5. no rest
6. f# ^A
7. g B ^A
8. e f# ^A

אַשְׁרֵ֥י תְמִֽימֵי־דָ֑רֶךְ
הַֽ֝הֹלְכִ֗ים בְּתוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָֽה
1All joy for those who are the complete of the way,
who walk in the instruction of Yahweh.
אַ֭שְׁרֵי נֹצְרֵ֥י עֵדֹתָ֗יו בְּכָל־לֵ֥ב יִדְרְשֽׁוּהוּ2All joy for those observing his testimonies. With a whole heart they search him out.1425
אַ֭ף לֹֽא־פָעֲל֣וּ עַוְלָ֑ה
בִּדְרָכָ֥יו הָלָֽכוּ
3Also they do not work injustice,
in his ways they walk.
אַ֭תָּה צִוִּ֥יתָה פִקֻּדֶ֗יךָ לִשְׁמֹ֥ר מְאֹֽד4And you commanded your precepts to keep in full.1320
אַ֭חֲלַי יִכֹּ֥נוּ דְרָכָ֗י לִשְׁמֹ֥ר חֻקֶּֽיךָ5Ah that established were my ways to keep your statutes.1420
אָ֥ז לֹא־אֵב֑וֹשׁ
בְּ֝הַבִּיטִ֗י אֶל־כָּל־מִצְוֺתֶֽיךָ
6And then I would not be ashamed,
to take note of all your commandments.
א֭וֹדְךָ בְּיֹ֣שֶׁר לֵבָ֑ב
בְּ֝לָמְדִ֗י מִשְׁפְּטֵ֥י צִדְקֶֽךָ
7And I will thank you with an upright heart
when I learn the judgments of your righteousness.
אֶת־חֻקֶּ֥יךָ אֶשְׁמֹ֑ר
אַֽל־תַּעַזְבֵ֥נִי עַד־מְאֹֽד
8And your statutes I will keep.
Do not forsake me in full for ever.

See the music page for the links to all 929 chapters of the Hebrew Bible.