Song and Memory: Biblical Women in Syriac Tradition

Song and Memory: Biblical Women in Syriac Tradition

Song and Memory: Biblical Women in Syriac Tradition

Song and Memory: Biblical Women in Syriac Tradition

Excerpt

By susan ashbrook harvey

The women of the Bible left indelible memories of songs within their stories: Miriam the sister of Moses singing in celebration as she led the Hebrew women in dance at the Red Sea (Ex 15:20–21), Hannah’s joyful praye>Magnificat, sung at her visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, during their pregnancies with Jesus and John the Baptist (Lk 1:46-55). Perhaps uniquely among the ancient Christian traditions, Syriac Christians honored this memory of women’s song in the Bible. They did so in the hymns and verse homilies sung and chanted in their liturgies, into which they set the words they imagined biblical women had said. They did so again through the strong presence of women’s voices in their midst, for Syriac churches cultivated a tradition of women’s choirs to sing these hymns that . . .

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