Hebrews had no talent for the visual arts, but they compensated for that with a variety of singing and instrumental music, and the narrative mentions Jubal the archetypal lyre and pipe player (Gen. 4:21). There were many opportunities for musical celebrations (Judg. 11:34; Isa. 5:12) and people at work would sing (e.g. Isa. 21:12; Jer. 25:30), as would soldiers or leaders even after some were slain in battle (2 Sam. 1:19–27). Music was important in the Temple, and probably some of the psalms were, as tradition claims, composed by King David against the time when the Temple should be built. David is said to have been an accomplished player of the lyre (1 Sam. 16:16–18) and a dancer (2 Sam. 6:14–15). During the centuries of monarchy there was singing and jubilation at a coronation (Ps. 72). After the Return from Exile music was important in the new Temple, and some of the psalms (e.g. Ps. 73) are attributed by their editors to the authors. Other comments are directions about the performance, e.g. ‘upon stringed instruments’; and Selah, which occurs frequently, probably indicates a pause where perhaps another group of singers might take over. Some psalms (e.g. 13; 20) were intended to be sung antiphonally. The stringed instruments were lyres and harps with ten strings, and wind instruments were flutes and trumpets of ram's horn. There were also tambourines and cymbals of bronze, and bells.
Some of these instruments are named also in the NT, and Jesus and the disciples sang the hallel (Pss. 114–18) after the Lord's Supper. Singing certainly formed part of early Christian worship (Eph. 5:19) which was expected to continue in heaven (Rev. 4:10).

Dictionary of the Bible.


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