King David’s Harp -- By: Forrest Long

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 14:3 (Summer 2001)
Article: King David’s Harp
Author: Forrest Long

King David’s Harp

Forrest Long

King David’s Harp ( is a wonderful treat to anyone who wants to learn about the music of ancient Israel. The focus of this site is the loss of the music of the Temple at Jerusalem, Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura’s controversial work The Music of the Bible Revealed, which reconstructs the music of Psalms from accent marks found in the Hebrew texts, plays an important part in the discovery of this lost music. Whether this is a true reconstruction of the actual music or not, her theory deserves examination. In addition to an explanation of her work, there are audio performances of several Psalms that she painstakingly transcribed. One can feel the grandeur and yet the simplicity of these melodies of the Psalms. There is an absolutely wonderful section on ancient musical instruments, fully illustrated and well annotated, as well as a good page on ancient music history. The sections on the history of chironomy (indicating the pitch of notes to singers by means of hand motions) from ancient Egypt through the Medieval Period to modern times are filled with insights into the Hebrew text and the musical practices of the Temple period. A must-see section of this site, though, is on Biblical Chironomy. There is an amazing amount of detail as to the gestures used by different communities at different time periods, and how these can possibly hold one of the keys to rediscovering the original melodies of the Psalms. This site goes to a great deal of trouble to help the reader understand these ancient musical practices and includes photographs of the author demonstrating these chironomic gestures. Although the musical terms and concepts are explained in this site, it may still be difficult for the non-musician to fully understand. Whether you are a trained musician or just desire to understand the music of the Temple, this internet site is well worth a look. (See also. The Origin of the Music of the Temple, by John Wheeler, Archaeology and Biblical Research 2: 1/3–22.)

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