excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 159-60 (217 words)

excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 159-60 (217 words)

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Musical letters from Abroad

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On Friday evening last, we attended the regular service at the Jewish synagogue. There was a congregation of perhaps three hundred men occupying the lower part of the house, and a few scattering women were seen in the gallery. The men all sit or stand with heads covered; and although four of us Americans took off our hats when we entered, we were told to put them on again, and obeyed orders. There was very little appearance of reverence or solemnity; indeed, none that could be observed. The appearance of the assembly was somewhat like that of a New England town meeting, after having been called to order by the chairman. There was a choir of about twelve or fourteen boys, with men for tenor and bass, and the harmony parts were sung. All the service was chanted, in a responsive manner, by priest or priests, choir and people, with the exception of two airs and melodies, which were sung by the choir. These were both modern, and even the chants did not seem to come from David or Solomon, but were more like the common chant, somewhat modified by a kind of recitative or declamatory manner of utterance. On the whole, the Jewish service here was not one of much interest, considered either religiously or musically.

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excerpt from 'Musical letters from abroad' pp. 159-60 (217 words)


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