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Bible and Western Music

   In terms of the relationship between Western music and the Bible, it can be said that the two nourish and enhance each other. The Hebrews recorded in the "Old Testament" were originally a people who liked music. Christianity inherited the music tradition of the Hebrew people and became a "singing religion". , four-line notation, stave, all derived from biblical music. To some extent, Western classical music originated from Christian music.

  Pre-Renaissance Biblical Music: The Mainstream of Western Music After

  Christianity gained official status in AD 313, the church paid more attention to the role of music in spreading the Bible and uniting the emotions of believers. The early names in history were all church musicians. Some church leaders, such as Bishop Ambrose of Milan (333?-397) and Pope Gregory I of Rome (540?-604), wrote "Psalms". The emergence of the "Gregory Chant", which is known by the latter name, marks the birth of Western music art. A cappella chant was the most important polyphonic music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Beginning with the Renaissance, a cappella chants were gradually performed in non-ecclesiastical settings, conveying secular themes.

  The religious reform movement in the 16th century led to the advent of the Bible translation in the national language, the lyrics of the Bible music also broke the situation of Latin dominance, and the Bible music sung in the national language appeared. Martin Luther, in collaboration with composer John Walter, collected, arranged and composed many liturgical songs for Protestant ceremonies. Calvin advocated that the "Psalms" should be translated into metrical poems and sung specially by someone to accompany them. In 1600, Cavalieri composed the first "Holy Play".

  Post-Renaissance Biblical Music: Diverse Themes and Profound Philosophy After the

  Renaissance , the theological status of the Bible continued to decline, while the status of the humanities continued to rise. Consistent with this, the musicians integrated the music with local or national characteristics of the original local churches, incorporated people into a larger musical cultural unity, and evolved into one of the large-scale vocal and instrumental performance forms. In this way, music based on the Bible goes beyond the purely religious meaning, has a profound philosophy, and reflects more themes.

  By the 17th century, "oratorios" appeared in two languages: Latin oratorios in prose, sung in aristocratic chapels; Italian oratorios, in verse, for the general public. Oratorio is centered on chorus, and chorus is dominant. Chorus guides the dramatic development of music. Karisimi composed more than ten Latin oratorios, including "Jephthah", "Jonah" and "The Judgment of Solomon".

  Among the biblical oratorio composers, there are many famous ones. Such as the German-British musician Handel (1685-1759)'s "Messiah", all the lyrics are written according to the relevant chapters of the Bible. The play has a total of 57 sub-pieces, including 20 mixed chorus of four parts and one mixed chorus of five parts. Handel has mastered all the art of choral writing, and is capable of producing a wide variety of acoustic effects, sometimes very strong, sometimes very weak. When strengthening the movement, the polyphonic technique is used to write, and the polyphonic and tonal techniques are used alternately or in combination. All of this, Handel has done handy in "Messiah", creating an extremely lofty realm. "Messiah" has long been a repertoire of Western classical music, and will be staged in various concerts, religious celebrations, and important occasions.

  In the 18th century, the German Protestant Bach (1685-1750), who created a new era of European music history and was known as the father of European music, created the famous "Passion", which brought "Baroque" music to its peak. In the 1720s, "The Passion of Matthew" was highly praised by well-known musicians such as Mendelssohn after it was staged in Leipzig, Germany. Since then, it has become an enduring program in Western concerts and church music activities. In addition, Austrian musicians Haydn (1732-1809) and Mozart (1756-1791) also created a large number of famous oratorios with the theme of the Bible.

  In the 19th century, the era of classical music came to an end. However, getting inspiration from the Bible, expressing one's attitude towards the world with music on the theme of the Bible, and expressing one's own musical style and musical spirit, seemed to have become the creative practice of great musicians. Many music and art treasures are drawn from the Bible and become masterpieces handed down from generation to generation. Such as Beethoven's works "Thanksgiving", "Christ on the Mount of Olives" and "Solemn Mass". "Ode to Joy" in D major, 4/4 time, written between 1819 and 1824, is the peak and summary of Beethoven's entire musical career. This is a huge variation, full of solemn religious color, magnificent momentum, is a model of the collaboration between vocals and symphony orchestra. Through many variations on this theme, the music finally reached a climax, and also reached the peak of Beethoven's music creation. During this period, among the famous songs that emerged around the world, it is worth mentioning that the march "The Star-Spangled Banner Never Falls" composed in 1897 by American composer Philip Sousa (1854-1932), known as the "national anthem" of the United States (The Stars and Stripes Forever). The reason why Americans call this song a "hymn" is not because the march is based on the Bible, but because this song embodies the musical style and musical spirit of the hymn advocated by the Bible: with majestic momentum and enthusiasm His emotions sing praises to his country and army, with the sacredness, solemnity, beauty and charisma of religious chants. During U.S. President Richard Nixon's first visit to China in 1972, the band played "The Star-Spangled Banner", and the audience responded enthusiastically.

  After the 20th century, there has been a trend of diversification in Western music. During this process, classical music was impacted by popular music, and biblical music works were withdrawn from the mainstream of creation, but were still an important part of it. Such as the German opera "Salome" by Richard Strauss, the French opera "Judith" and "King David" by Hognegg, the "Christmas Carol Ritual" by Britten in the United Kingdom, and the Austrian Schoenberg The opera "Moses and Aaron", Bernstein's "Jeremiah Symphony" and so on.

  Contemporary Biblical Music: Components and Supplements to Popular Music

  Contemporary musicians not only have more advanced and expressive musical tools than their predecessors, but also bring contemporary interpretations of biblical thought. They did not express their unique understanding of the content of the Bible through the music language and means full of new trends and characteristics of the times, and made it fully displayed in film music, pop music and Bible musicals.

  In 20th Century Fox's 1951 color film "David and Bathsheba," there is a scene where King David (played by Gregory Peck) strokes the harp and recalls his childhood from an ordinary The shepherd became the king of Israel and could not help plucking the strings and reciting Psalm 23 passionately: "The Lord is my shepherd, I will not want..." In fact, there are many people from different countries, Musicians and believers from different cultural backgrounds use their own languages ​​(translations) and musical styles to interpret the sense of intimacy, trust and dependence of "sheep and shepherd" conveyed by this psalm. Countless people have heard the music with the lyrics of this psalm, and countless listeners and singers are also moved from the bottom of their hearts.

  Another well-known psalm is the 137th poem, which expresses the strong emotion of the "Babylonian prisoner" missing his homeland, swearing to the death, and sticking to his faith. Both Bach and Czech composer Dvorak (1841-1904) wrote scripture songs in this poem. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, "Rivers of Babylon" (Rivers of Babylon), sung by the British band Boney M, swept Europe, and immediately became one of the favorite English songs of young people and college students after it spread to China: By therivers of Babylon/ There we sat down yeahwe wept/When we remembered Zion... The words and phrases of the original text and the sonorous disco drum beats caused the excitement of countless youthful blood.

  In recent years, large-scale "Bible Musicals" have also emerged. This is a musical based on the Bible.

In order to achieve the effect of stage performance, it often requires the cooperation of many artists to complete the stage music performance combined with various art forms. Here we introduce three well-known biblical musicals.
  The British contemporary musician Weber (1948-) and his friend, the playwright Dim Reis, co-created the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technlcolor Dreamcoat" in 1968 during the college years. The subject matter is taken from the story of the young Joseph, his ten brothers and his father Jacob from chapter 37 of Genesis onward. "Joseph's Fantastic Colors" isn't the most famous of the Webb musicals, but two of its songs have become household pop hits. One is "Any Dream will Do", which uses cheerful rhythm to interpret the possession and loss of dreams, and the stage performance is lifelike. This song was included in "European Romance Nostalgia II".
  The other is " No Way to Go" (close Every Door), Joseph expresses his feelings after being framed and thrown into prison
  . What will happen?
  Yet I know well that the answer to this question cannot be found in this world.
  Close every door and take all that I love...
  Children of Israel, never alone!
  For we know that peace can be found in our own minds,
  and God has promised us that one is ours home.
  This song has beautiful music, touching lyrics, and the scene design plays a key role in the storyline. It can be called a classic in the history of musicals.
  If "Joseph's Fantastic Color Coat" is just a simple illustration of the biblical story, Weber and Reese's 1971 musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" (also translated "Superstar") is a This work is very bold, thoughtful and profound. Based on the life of Jesus, the show innovatively combines serious religious stories with progressive rock music. Although it drew protests from many religious groups, it won a Grammy and ran for eight years in London and on Broadway.
  The Ten Commandments of Moses is a famous story in the Bible. Anyone who has read the Bible or knows the history of the Jewish nation knows that this story is both personal and epic, and it contains the ethical foundations of early Christianity. It can be said that it is a challenge to express this theme with heavy values ​​and national struggle in the form of popular pop music. The French musical "Les Dix Commandements" (Les Dix Commandements) has successfully become a super-popular musical with more than 400 performances and an audience of more than 2 million. The theme song of "The Ten Commandments", "Desire for Love", was composed by the popular French music editor Pascal Obispo. The English version was covered by Celine Dion. The 29 singles in the play have all become the golden songs of the year, and "The Longing for Love" is even more enduring. From creation to performance, the entire musical is not limited to a specific creative mode, performance team and fixed location like operas and British and American musicals. This is also the charm of French musicals that are diverse, popular, and flexible.
  In terms of musical value, the Bible is a collection of human emotional themes and a treasure trove full of musical style. Its emotional themes overlap with those expressed in music, and its musical traditions have had a huge impact on Western music. Although most of the musical traditions shown in the Bible are related to religious consciousness, in essence, music itself is neither religious nor secular, and it can be used for religious or secular purposes. What Western musicians have drawn from the Bible is the theme and style of music contained in it. Coupled with the soulful interpretation of singers and believers, and the active interpretation and participation of audiences and listeners, the interpretation space of the Bible text has been greatly enriched. It can be said that the Bible provides an enduring theme for Western music, and Western musicians have gained infinite inspiration from it. It has played and will continue to play an irreplaceable role in improving people's personal sentiment and improving the humanistic quality of the entire society. As Beethoven wrote on the first page of his "Solemn Mass in D Major" score: "This is from the depths of the soul, and may it also reach the depths of people's souls."


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