Historical Jewish Worship Liturgy

Hey everyone,

Today I thought I would just share some things I have found on my travels doing my PhD. Here’s some information about liturgical practices from the ancient Jewish Synagogue System following their exile to Babylon:

The Cantor

The Cantor was the leader of chanting prayers, psalms and scriptures in the synagogue, which became the dominant form of music in the synagogues for many centuries, following the lifting of the ban on singing in the synagogues. The chant was a liturgical practice that involved a number of syllables being sung to each note of a short melodic line that is repeated throughout the passage being read/sung. The cantor would take contemporaneous melodic patters or compose his own melodies. Chanting of Psalms was often done antiphonally with two choirs groups to lead the congregation. Rabbis did not allow women to sing, so all music was male led by men and boys and chanting was monophonic. The scales differed depending on the spatiotemporal location of the synagogue as the local folk music culture often influenced the Cantor’s musical creations (Barton 2014, p.21).

Cantillation

In the Cantillation the cantor or leader singer of a synagogue sings the declamatory form of the weekly text of the Torah, and the Prophets (Nevi’im) using pre-existing musical phrases. The musical phrases are chosen according to the text and book of the Bible being cantillated. There is no rhythm as different musical motives are combined together. Although there is reason to believe that cantillation goes back as far as Ezra in the Bible times – about 2,500 years ago – most melodies used today are no older that about the 15th or 16th century (Rubin and Baron 2006, pp.67-69) (Barton 2014, pp.21-22).

Jewish Liturgical Modes

A set of musical modes are called ‘Nusach’ whichcan refer either to a set of modes, melodies and also a set text or prayer. These modes or melodies link the prayer to a time of year or day and also indicate what prayer is to be sing or recited. These melodies became standardized, as did the prayers associated with the melodies. The Three main modes are: Ahavah Rabbah, Magein Avot and Adonai Malach. Today they are improvised from time to time) (Barton 2014, p.22).

Synagogue Prayers

The prayers of the Synagogues were chanted usually led by a Cantor and a male choir (if available). The Cantors usually sang in a florid and melodious style that was either of their own devising (before the modes became formalized) or influence by the local culture’s melodic lines. After the formalizing of the prayers the following forms emerged and remain until this day in the modern synagogues:

Piyyut:

A Jewish liturgical poem that is sung, chanted or spoken. A lot of Piyytim are poetic in character and often follow the order of an acrostic poem using the Hebrew Alphabet in order at the beginning of each line.

Zemiros:

Jewish Hymns sung in Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish or Ladino, sung at holidays, the Shabbat meal on Fridays or any other day.

Nigun:

Religious songs sung by groups that involve voice and with no formal words; syllables such as bim-bim-bam or ai-ai-ai are sung.           

Pizmonim:

Traditional Jewish songs associated with Middle Eastern Sephardic Jews  – but are also among the North African and Mizrahi Jews. Texts may come from the Old Testament or by poets. They are composed to praise God and contain traditional teaching. They are often sung at religious rituals or festivities such as circumcisions, weddings Bar Mitzvahs or other ceremonies.

Baqashot:

A collection of songs and prayers sung by Sephardic Jewish communities during Shabbat, but also may be recited during the long weeks of winter) (Barton 2014, pp.22-23).

Okedokey that’s all for today folks! See you next Thursday the usual time of 8pm GMT xxx

Bibliography

Barton, B. 2014. The Music of the Jews: An Overview. Fellowship Diploma dissertation. National College of Music, London.

Rubin, E. and J. H. Baron. 2006. Music in Jewish History and Culture. Sterling Heights. MI: Harmonie Park

I Led Worship On The Harp At A Conference This Week

Hey everyone,

Remember I play the harp? Well I led worship this week at a conference at a university over Zoom this week. Please see the Instagram vid below.

If you wish to book me for your event head to my other website: http://ridethefaderproductions.com/services/

Xxx

#Sexy #Sex and #Christian #Worship

Posted this on Wednesday by mistake instead of Thursday but it’s all good 😄

Hellooooooooooo!

Now you know me and my juxtaposition of sexual activity and expressive worship. Well in my travels in academia doing my PhD in Womanist Theomusicology I came across something quite insightful that has really changed the way I worship. The idea came from a response to an interview question found in an ethnographic study by Travis Cooper (2011) Masters Thesis from Missouri State University: “Ecstasy and the Kinesthetic Body: An Ethnograhpic Study of Contemporary Pentecostal Worship”.

When analysing the responses Cooper received from the qualitative questionnaires regarding the worship techniques and ideas of Pentecostal Christians, Cooper found that one Pastor said something that really struck me. He related worshipping Jesus to a husband and wife having sex. Now, stay with me….!

The Pastor warned that when worshipping Jesus we should not perusing a good knees up with some songs that make us feel good. Instead, the pastor said we should be pursuing a relationship with Jesus. The same way a husband should not be having sex with his wife just for his own sexual gratification he should be having sex with his wife because he loves her.

The pastor said the following:

“…the ultimate goal for sexual relations between a husband and wife is not simply pleasure or childbearing, but facilitation of love between the two agents in the physical act of intercourse, so it is with worship.” (Cooper 2011, pp.182)

I learnt soo much about worship and love in that one profound sentence. There’s just so much I could say but I really think that sentence says it all. We should be thinking about Jesus when we are worshipping not looking to pleasure ourselves with little ditty’s that make us feel good.

So here’s how my worship practice has changed: Instead of sitting there singing/playing songs that make me feel good I think of Jesus more of a lover that I am pursuing. So I think well this should be about Jesus, what does Jesus want? How can I make Jesus happy? What can I do to make us closer?

Sometimes I just play the guitar to Jesus now because I think well, maybe Jesus just wants to listen to some music same as we humans do! Also, I try to improve my professional practice because I feel like Jesus wants me to improve.

When we worship and love our spouses it should be about the other person and getting to know them better not about ourselves.

Remember, pleasure should be a consequence of the pursuit not the other way around!

Hey So Here’s How My #Gig Went! | #freelance #musician #harpist #harp #musicteacher #freelancemusician #ridethefaderproductions #pilgrimshall #brentwood #Christian #worship

Hey!

Just thought I would feedback from last weekend!

Yeah totally had a great and awesome time playing with everybody! If you are interested in me harping for you head to my other website: www.ridethefaderproductions.com and drop me an email at catherine@ridethefaderproductions.com

Back-story, my friend Sally Cranham (read about her project Feathers and Whirlwinds here) contacted me a month ago about something going on at Pilgrims Hall again. Sally invited me to play there before! Last time I played my Clarinet as well as my harp!

I took a picture of my feet!

I have an electro-acoustic harp, basically, it’s the same principle as an acoustic guitar, it’s an acoustic instrument that it has a pick-up in it. That means that it can be amplified the same as an acoustic guitar. That also means I can plug it into an effects pedal and I have!! Hehehehe.

Yeah it was totally awesome people were really into the music we played and most importantly we all worshipped God! It was the 50th anniversary celebration of Pilgrims Hall which is a Christian retreat and counselling/training centre.

The man who preached was bang on point with his theology I really enjoyed it! I must confess this is the first time I have ever restrung my harp before a gig by myself but Jesus helped me to do it. It’s not easy by the way…..

There is a nuance to playing the harp in a band. The clips will show you that I am not playing all the time. The reason for this is firstly, to play in an ensemble you have to understand arranging and not just your instrument but everyone else’s too. The harp occupies the same frequencies as the keyboard, guitar and bass but it is not as resonant (loud) and the timbre is soft (it doesn’t have a great deal of attack at all except for the top end). So I have to pick spaces where the music is quieter to play but I also have to be mindful that I am not doing what the piano can (harp and piano music is the same except harp chords are only 4 notes deep in each hand). Firstly because it’s not gracious to dominate the team! Secondly because the piano does what it does better than the harp (chords, string pads on a synthesiser, generally being loud lol ect). Even if the harp is loud, the timbre is so soft that it will either muddy the mix played too much or just make everything else seem loud by doubling everyone else’s notes. Less is more 🙂 So I have to play at times using techniques that everybody wants to hear when they see a harp that are idiosyncratic to the harp and or only the harp can do well, like a Glissando (which the harp does better than the piano) and occupy frequencies that are resonant in the harp (like the higher pitches), that others can’t or don’t have a directive to play when there are spaces in the music, (there’s no point me even bothering to play mid frequencies when the acoustic is playing, the harp gets lost in the mix it’s soo soft). Improvisational harping takes quite a lot of thinking:

My Harping History!!

I write songs for the harp, remember this from 2015!?

I’ve been making some experimental harp music!

https://soundcloud.com/hopelikeivers/sets/harp-songs

I’ve played the Harp for a wedding!

And I’ve played the harp as part of a worship band for various people many times:

I also like to play it for fun!

Well that’s all folks! If you are interested in me harping for you head to my other website: www.ridethefaderproductions.com and drop me an email at catherine@ridethefaderproductions.com

Catherine x

Foolish Things?

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

I’ve been thinking about gender issues again, that’s what my PhD is about I’m looking at attitudes towards women worship leaders and that involves looking at intersectionality, that is basically describing looking at overlapping (intersecting) systems of oppression. For example, a person, man or woman, might dislike a women leader because of her ethnicity, class, education status, financial status or even her accent? So there are many reasons why a person might dislike a woman leader and none of them might have anything to do with her sex, the woman thing is just a more socially acceptable reason for them to dislike her and they jump on that bandwagon with their own hidden agenda…

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about lol… I’ve been thinking about sex again. I’m not married and I don’t have a boyfriend (not that that would matter either because as a Christian I wouldn’t be sleeping with my boyfriend anyway) so all I can do is philosophize on the matter, it is relevant to my PhD with the whole gender issues thing. I was thinking about this scripture:

[1Cor 12:12-26 NLT]

[12] The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. [13] Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. [14] Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. [15] If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. [16] And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? [17] If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? [18] But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. [19] How strange a body would be if it had only one part! [20] Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. [21] The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
[22] In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. [23] And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, [24] while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.

[25] This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. [26] If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

I isolated v 22-24 because those are the ones that I’m going to talk about.

I was thinking about men and women’s anatomy, which parts we “…clothe with the greatest care” (1Cor 12:23). For men, it is socially acceptable across most cultures for them to walk around with no tops on or trousers but they must have their penis and testicles covered at all times! For women it is socially acceptable in Anglo-American society for them to walk around with not much on but we must have our breasts covered and have pants on! Even in cultures where they live in the forests, in fact, I’ve actually noticed watching documentaries on the BBC that in many of those cultures that still live in forests the women are at least wearing some kind of covering over their lower half like a grass skirt. In Anglo-American culture any other forms of undress for men and women are considered to be inappropriate and quite right too.

Now… it’s it interesting that the afore mentioned parts that we always keep hidden are really soft, squishy and delicate but oh so necessary for life? Like Paul said in 1Cor 12:22:

[22] In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.

Our genitals are amongst our weakest points of our bodies but regardless of whether you get a baby by IVF/adoption etc you still at one point need a man’s genitals and a woman’s genitals to create a baby. They are also used for sex to bond a couple together, I guess creating “life” within a marriage.

A man might be attracted to a woman’s face and kiss it but yet the most intimate way he can physically express his love to her is through a very humble part of his body that has “…less dignity...” (1Cor 12:24) than his face. Think about it, our genitals have a nasty job, they handle urine, sweat, semen, menstrual blood (if you’re a woman), discharge, a baby (if you’re a woman), there is also certain bacteria which is down there which is fine if it’s down there but causes problems if its anywhere else. They also handle the pressure of being sat on all day as well (if you’re a woman). Furthermore, lets just be realistic and adult about this, there is going to be some excrement on them as well, due to their proximity to our anus. Moreover, between you and me if I could choose whether or not to look at a man’s face or his penis all day I’d choose his face… A penis looks like a big worm that lives in the guys pants all day, next to his sweaty hairy balls. A vagina looks like something from outer space.

Our faces on the other hand look sooooo beautiful in comparison and they have all the nice jobs like singing, speaking, eating, laughing, smiling and kissing! Our faces don’t do the nasty jobs, in fact, some of the things our faces do we don’t even need them to do to survive, it’s just extra things like smiling that make life much more fun! Our genitals on the other hand, everything they do is 100% necessary for us to survive, they seem the “…weakest and least important…” (1Cor 12:22) but “…are actually the most necessary” (1Cor 12:22). They’re super useful but much more delicate than our faces. You can take a punch in the face but not in the groin! Also, we hide them because of what they look like and what they do.

Now, why does God use the parts with “…less dignity…” (1Cor 12:24) to be vessels he uses to facilitate life and love? God does things like that so no one can ever boast.

[1Co 1:26-31 NLT] [26] Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
[27] Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. [28] God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.

[29] As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. [30] God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. [31] Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”

Yeah the world does consider genitals to be shameful, “…foolish...”, “…powerless…“, “…counted as nothing at all…” (1Cor 1:27-28), they aren’t really talked about because of the private and humble functions they perform and are always hidden (which isn’t a bad thing, I don’t personally believe that Naturism is compatible with Christianity unless you are unclothed in front of your spouse/doctor/close family member/parent/guardian (basically a person you have a reason to be naked in front of or a person who isn’t going to hurt you and you’re just close and have that kind of relationship with them but outside of that those examples it’s not a good idea).

It seems as though God is for raising up the disenfranchised and for humility. Jesus Christ King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born in a stable and He had humility and servant heartedness and God elevated Him higher than anything or anyone in forever as it says in Philippians:

[Phl 2:5-11 NLT] [5] You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. [6] Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. [7] Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, [8] he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. [9] Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, [10] that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We can see other examples of what Paul was talking about in 1Cor 12:22-24 and 1Cor 1:27-28 in the Genesis story. Humans, the most exciting part of God’s creation were made from what Genesis describes as “…dust...” (Gen 2:7).

[Gen 2:7 NLT] [7] Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

You would have thought that God would have used something more exciting but no, just dust and God reminds us that we are made of dust when He cursed Adam:

[Gen 3:19 NLT] [19] By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”

and when we speak to God and try and reason with Him it seems as though a good way is to remind God that we are dust like Abraham, Job and David did:

[Gen 18:27-28 NLT] [27] Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. [28] Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the LORD said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.”

Job:

[Job 10:9 NLT] [9] Remember that you made me from dust–will you turn me back to dust so soon?

David: Also see the whole of Psalm 90 & 103:

[Psa 30:9-10 NLT] [9] “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? [10] Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me. Help me, O LORD.”

God consistently uses the seemingly weak things and promotes them, look at the story of Jacob and Esau, the older brother ended up serving the younger brother Gen 25, the Parable of the Landowner Mat 20:1-16 where Jesus famously said:

[Mat 20:16 NLT] [16] “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”

and Jesus reiterated this sentiment again in Mark:

[Mar 9:35 NLT] [35] He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Conclusion

So we have learned that God uses the parts that have “…less dignity…” (1Cor 12:24), the things that are “…weakest and least important…” (1Cor 12:22), “…foolish…“, “…powerless…“, “…counted as nothing at all…” (1Cor 1:27-28), “…dust…” (Gen 2:7) and the “…last…” (Matt 20:16) (which would make you a loser) for great things!. That means that we can assume that whatever it is in your life that is you consider “…least important…” (1Cor 12:22) or “…less honourable…” (1Cor 12:23) or maybe it’s something that you are embarrassed about physically/emotionally/something in your past or maybe you’re not the most popular person, you’re last all the time, a loser, you have an injury, a learning difficulty like me, Autism like me or a disease then you’re in prime place to be used by God. That very thing that you think disqualifies you for success is the thing that God is going to use to make you shine! Extra care will be given to those things, as it says in 1Cor 12:24, “…extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity“. God knows the things that you are embarrassed about, He will take care of you.

For some, learning difficulties are a source of shame. For me my learning difficulties are the things that actually help me to make money because of the creativity and focus that coexists with them. The Autism makes me prefer my own company to crowds, which helps me with my career because making music/arrangements/planning lessons etc is a lonely process and if you need people around you all the time it’s not for you lol. My preference for my own company also means that I spend a lot of time alone with Jesus which is good and the intense focus that accompanies ASD means I meditate on the Bible and philosophize intensely, which helps my walk with Christ and has helped me to be currently working on my third degree lol.

If God can take something humble like our genitals, the parts of our bodies that are not even polite to have on show, the parts that literally handle: filth, bacteria, bodily fluids, sweat and smelliness and use them to produce actual life and be facilitators of sex, something so overwhelmingly beautiful and a deep physical expression of pleasure and love, He can use you and because He used you despite your disadvantages you will never be able to boast about doing it yourself. You will gain a deeper understanding of His power and magnificence, worship Him like you should and your faith will increase! I think Paul’s statement below sums up my hopes for you:

[Eph 3:14-21 NLT] [14] When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, [15] the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. [16] I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. [17] Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. [18] And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. [19] May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. [20] Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. [21] Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

You can do it! God believes in you! Below is a picture with me with no make-up on, showing hyper-pigmentation on my body, something that happened to me a number of years ago and I’m very embarrassed/mortified about it but Jesus can use it somehow for His glory.

Catherine x