Over the last couple days, I’ve been putting together a melody for the Song of Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:9-20) based on the cantillation marks in the original Hebrew.
While there are several melodies and interpretations that have been passed down through tradition, the system I’ve been using was developed by Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura, which is an attempt to recreate the original, intended melody without relying on existing systems or traditions.
The melody moves with the text: certain musical themes are indicators of certain things in the text. For instance, in the Psalms, Yahweh’s name is always accompanied by a special musical thought.
My task was not only to pull this melody out of the text, but to fit it to an English translation. To do this, I had to go through with a copy of the music, the Hebrew, and the translation and synchronize them all in such a way as to preserve the order of the original tune and thus the original Hebrew.
This is my submission for the Biblical Horizons conference music folder this year:
The translation is based on Jim Jordan’s: I have only varied from it where it was necessary to preserve the original tune as well as the meaning. The style is most likely chanted; there are references to stringed instruments as well, but how that should be put into practice is another debate. For the mode, I used a Dorian scale with an augmented 3rd.