Heroines of the Bible in Music
Music has always been a part of the cultural experience of religion. Music plays a role in ritual, devotion, fellowship, and ceremony. Whether for sacrifice or celebration, music was important to the ancient peoples of Israel and Palestine, and was expressed in virtually every aspect of their lives. The women in biblical times played a variety of instruments: “And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances” (Exodus 15:20).
What are some the instruments ancient women and men played?
Ancient instruments mentioned in the Bible include cymbals, harps, trumpets, pipes, drums, castanets, and rattles.
Singing, clapping, and dancing were as much a part of ancient cultures in biblical times as they are now. Some religious services invoke the name of Mary through music played on guitars, organs, or other instruments. In fact, the Virgin Mary's name has been sung for centuries in religious hymns, devotional chanting, chorale music, ecclesiastical expression, and various Christmas carols throughout many lands. During the Renaissance, when religious songs and madrigal music was popular, the Italian composer Guilio Caccini (circa A.D. 1545-A.D. 1618) wrote “Ave Maria.” In 1877, another version was produced by Antonín Dvorák. Other composers also arranged or worked with the composition, including Guiseppe Verdi, César Cui, Franz Schubert, and Charles Gounod. “Ave Maria” has surged in popularity through the performances of modern artists such as Sumi Jo, Charlotte Church, and Andrea Bocelli, among others. Bocelli uses the song in his album of sacred music, titled
With the popularity of Christian music, modern artists are finding new arrangements for old music inspired by biblical times and figures, including women (Mother Mary especially, ancient biblical females as well).
Certain women of the Old and New Testaments have inspired great cathedrals, works of art, evocative lyrics of poems and songs, and book-length tales of their heroic exploits and accomplishments. Others have served as muses for artists creating or performing operas, chorale music, symphonies, and theatrical works. Still others have had their names become part of popular cultural vernacular: “Jezebel!” “Mother of God!” and “Queen of Sheba.” And the women of the perennial bestseller, the holy Bible, will most likely continue to inspire future generations of people, including artists, writers, architects, musicians, clerics, and contemplatives.