Ninth of Av-A Symphony by Leonard Bernstein

This evening I was thinking, was there a symphony written for this most sorrowful day of remembrance for the people of Israel mourning in recollection of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 586 B.C. and again in 70 A.D. This is what I found which was based upon the Book of Jeremiah and Lamentations which we just finished reading.

Symphony No. 1 -by Leonard Bernstein housed at the Milken Archive of Jewish Music in Santa Monica, California.

https://www.milkenarchive.org/music/volumes/view/symphonic-visions/work/symphony-no-1/

Visit there online for the links to the Symphony. The following is their excellent post by Neil W. Levin.

Tracks
PLAY
TRACK
TIME
I. Prophecy 07:39
II. Profanation 06:29
III. Lamentation 11:04

Liner Notes:

Leonard Bernstein was a mere twenty-four years old in 1942 when he composed his first symphony, which he subtitled Jeremiah after the biblical prophet. He wrote it initially for a competition sponsored by the New England Conservatory of Music, and although it did not win that particular award, it received a much greater and unexpected “prize” in 1944 in the form of a world premiere performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra that its director, the venerable Fritz Reiner (Bernstein’s teacher of conducting at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia) permitted him to conduct.

Bernstein always explained that despite its subtitle, the symphony was not a programmatic work. Indeed, it does not have a specific story line, but rather it reflects what he called the “emotional quality” of Jeremiah’s dire prophecies of impending doom for the people of Judah (Judea) and Jerusalem, in which he foresaw and foretold their destruction and captivity by the Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar.

Jeremiah felt impelled to speak the truth, of which he was certain, even at great risk to himself (he was often imprisoned and even in mortal danger). He began his preaching in 627 BCE, convinced that his country and his people were under Divine judgment for their corruption (and that of the priesthood in the Temple cult) and their flaunting of the moral principles of the Sinaitic covenant. In particular, he railed against idolatry and the worship of gods other than, or in addition to, the one, true God—adonai. His “Temple sermon,” sternly indicting Judea and its unfaithful ways, was an attempted appeal to the conscience of the nation and a courageous but unsuccessful challenge to its leadership. His admonitions ran against the accepted authorities, the “party line,” and the tide of popular beliefs; and consistently rebuffed, he was forbidden entrance to the Temple. But he continued to denounce and to warn of imminent calamity as Divine punishment, maintaining that he spoke with the higher authority that formed Judah’s true historical and religious basis.

Judah’s leaders thus considered Jeremiah an enemy, especially since—as he was unsuccessful in convincing the nation of its impending doom—he had come to regard the Babylonian army as God’s instrument for national punishment, a military force against which opposition would bring only complete disaster for Judea and Jerusalem.

Speaking in God’s name, Jeremiah also prophesied Israel’s eventual restoration and reunion with Judah, the return of Judah’s captives, and an end to the exile: “Your children shall return to their own land. I will gather them from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to this place, where I will cause them to dwell in safety” (31:15). According to that prediction, God would eventually make a fresh covenant with a new generation.

Bernstein described the first movement, “Prophecy,” as a musical attempt to “parallel in feeling the intensity of the prophet’s pleas with his people.” He envisioned the second movement—a scherzo titled “Profanation”—as portraying “a general sense of the destruction and chaos brought on by the pagan corruption within the priesthood and the people.”

The third and final movement, although it too lacks an actual program, has a literary foundation in its sung text taken from the Book of Lamentations. Bernstein called it a “literary conception—the cry of Jeremiah as he mourns his beloved Jerusalem, ruined, pillaged, and dishonored after his desperate efforts to save it.”

The biblical Book of Lamentations—eikha—is a collection of five poems. These comprise elegies and dirges that describe the collective agony of the defeated people and bewail the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem. They also express the hope that God will one day again bestow His grace and favor on them and restore the Jewish people to its national home and its holy city, Jerusalem. Tradition—though not necessarily objective modern scholarship—has attributed eikha to Jeremiah.

Eikha is recited (i.e., chanted) in its entirety in the synagogue on Tisha b’Av—the annual fast day and day of national mourning on the ninth of the Hebrew month of av. It commemorates the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, traditionally assigned to that same date in 586 BCE and in 72 CE, respectively, nearly six centuries apart. The ninth of av also coincides with the fall of Bar Kokhba’s fortress, Bethar, in his stand against the Romans. (For Sephardi Jews, the date has an additional significance; by tradition, they have assigned that date to the 1492 Spanish expulsion edict.)

The mezzo-soprano part in the third movement is a setting of excerpts from eikha (1:1–3; 1:8; 4:14–15; and 5:20–21). Its lines and the movement as a whole are based on the traditional Ashkenazi cantillation of Lamentations. Its constituent motives are sometimes quoted directly—both by the voice and by the orchestra—and sometimes liberally and artistically developed, altered, and extended, with interludes that exploit a rich array of orchestral colors and timbres. Apart from the cantillation references, the entire movement recalls the somber, mournful, and lugubrious aura of a typical traditional Tisha b’Av service—the intoned recitation of eikha, the congregation seated on low mourning stools with dim lighting and burning candles, and the singing of additional elegies and dirges known as kinot. And even with the added emotional intensity of quasi-operatic vocal lines at their climactic points, as well as the orchestral counterpoint, the principal motives and pitch cells of the traditional eikha cantillation are easily recognizable to all who experience annually this sacred ritual—beginning with the initial motive of an ascending minor third stated by the horns and continued by the vocal entrance.

In a letter to Bernstein, Aaron Copland offered his candid assessment of the symphony: “It’s the best thing of yours I’ve seen so far—more consistent in style and more grown-up in many ways. I like best the beginning and the end.” At that relatively early stage in Bernstein’s creative path, this work, in addition to its ingenious use of authentic Judaic material, reveals the positive influence of a number of American composers at the same time that it displays the intenseness and highly charged energy that defines a memorable aspect of Bernstein’s trademark.

A month after the world premiere in Pittsburgh, the Jeremiah Symphony was performed in Boston—also conducted by the composer. The critic for the Boston Globe cited it as the “best new composition of the year.” And following its New York premiere that spring (four performances), the New York Music Critics’ Circle voted it the “outstanding new work of the season.”

By: Neil W. Levin

Scripture for 7.31.2020


TORAH – Devarim (Words) 
Deuteronomy 3:1-22


PROPHETS
Lamentations 4 & Lamentations 5


THE GOSPELS & LETTERS
Acts 2:4-5

Pastor John MacArthur’s Expository Sermon Series on the Book of Acts, “The Birth of the Church, Part 2, Acts 2:4-5.


WISDOM WRITING
PSALM of the Day 93
PSALM 106
PROVERBS 24:30-34


If you are on the journey with us reading through the Bible, welcome to day 280 or if you
are joining us now welcome and be prepared for a life changing experience. Also please
share this reading schedule with others. We will be conducting a 5-week introduction to
the Bible class on September 15. 2020, then restarting the Bible reading from the beginning with the Tuesday night sessions online. We look forward to you joining us! You can reach us at exploringgodslibrary@gmail.com

Scripture for 7.30.2020


TORAH – Devarim (Words) 
Deuteronomy 2:26-37


PROPHETS
Lamentations 3:43-66


THE GOSPELS & LETTERS
Acts 2:1-3

Pastor John MacArthur’s Expository Sermons on the Book of Acts, “The Birth of the Church, Part 1.
https://youtu.be/AGAty6O9APU


WISDOM WRITING
PSALM of the Day 81
PSALM 105
PROVERBS 24:28-29


If you are on the journey with us reading through the Bible, welcome to day 279 or if you
are joining us now welcome and be prepared for a life changing experience. Also please share this reading schedule with others. We will be conducting a 5-week introduction to the Bible class on September 15. 2020, then restarting the Bible reading from the beginning with the Tuesday night sessions online. We look forward to you joining us! You can reach us at exploringgodslibrary@gmail.com

Scripture for 7.29.2020


TORAH – Devarim (Words) 
Deuteronomy 2:16-25


PROPHETS
Lamentations 3:1-42


THE GOSPELS & LETTERS
Acts 1:12-26

Pastor John MacArthur’s expository Sermons on the Book of Acts “Replacing Judas”, Part 3– Acts 1:12-26.


WISDOM WRITING
PSALM of the Day 94
PSALM 104
PROVERBS 24:27


If you are on the journey with us reading through the Bible, welcome to day 278 or if you
are joining us now welcome and be prepared for a life changing experience. Also please
share this reading schedule with others. We will be conducting a 5-week introduction to
the Bible class on September 15. 2020, then restarting the Bible reading from the beginning with the Tuesday night sessions online. We look forward to you joining us! You can reach us at exploringgodslibrary@gmail.com

Scripture for 7.28.2020


TORAH – Devarim (Words) 
Deuteronomy 2:1-15


PROPHETS
Lamentations 2


THE GOSPELS & LETTERS
Acts 1:4-11

Pastor John MacArthur’s expository Sermons on the Book of Acts “Continuing Christ’s Work, Part 2– Acts 1:4-11.


WISDOM WRITING
PSALM of the Day 82
PSALM 103
PROVERBS 24:26


If you are on the journey with us reading through the Bible, welcome to day 277 or if you
are joining us now welcome and be prepared for a life changing experience. Also please
share this reading schedule with others. We will be conducting a 5-week introduction to
the Bible class on September 15. 2020, then restarting the Bible reading from the beginning with the Tuesday night sessions online. We look forward to you joining us! You can reach us at exploringgodslibrary@gmail.com

Scripture for 7.27.2020


TORAH – Devarim (Words)
Deuteronomy 1:26-46


PROPHETS
Lamentations 1


THE GOSPELS & LETTERS
Acts 1:1-3

Pastor John MacArthur’s expository Sermons on the Book of Acts. Today, Acts 1:1-3.
https://youtu.be/2H2n1v_ztDw


WISDOM WRITING
PSALM of the Day 48
PSALM 102
PROVERBS 24:23-25


If you are on the journey with us reading through the Bible, welcome to day 276 or if you
are joining us now welcome and be prepared for a life changing experience. Also please
share this reading schedule with others. We will be conducting a 5-week introduction to
the Bible class on September 15. 2020, then restarting the Bible reading from the
beginning with the Tuesday night sessions online. We look forward to you joining us!
You can reach us at exploringgodslibrary@gmail.com.

Scripture for 7.26.2020


TORAH – Devarim (Words)
Deuteronomy 1:19-25


PROPHETS
Jeremiah 52


THE GOSPELS & LETTERS

Acts

Introduction to the Book of Acts, Part II Sermon by Pastor John MacArthur.
https://youtu.be/daNjNxxHR-0


WISDOM WRITING
PSALM of the Day 24
PSALM 101
PROVERBS 24:21-22


If you are on the journey with us reading through the Bible, welcome to day 275 or if you
are joining us now welcome and be prepared for a life changing experience. Also please
share this reading schedule with others. We will be conducting a 5-week introduction to
the Bible class on September 15. 2020, then restarting the Bible reading from the
beginning with the Tuesday night sessions online. We look forward to you joining us!
You can reach us at exploringgodslibrary@gmail.com.

Scripture for 7.25.2020- Shabbat Slalom!


TORAH – Devarim (Words) Deuteronomy 1:1-18


PROPHETS
Jeremiah 51:33-64


THE GOSPELS & LETTERS
Book of Acts

https://exploringgodslibrary.org/2020/07/25/the-book-of-acts-2/


WISDOM WRITING
PSALM of the Day 92
PSALM 100
PROVERBS 24:17-20


If you are on the journey with us reading through the Bible, welcome to day 274 or if you
are joining us now welcome and be prepared for a life changing experience. Also please
share this reading schedule with others. We will be conducting a 5-week introduction to
the Bible class on September 15. 2020, then restarting the Bible reading from the
beginning with the Tuesday night sessions online. We look forward to you joining us!
You can reach us at exploringgodslibrary@gmail.com.

The Book of Acts

EGL2020. Although we are still reading through the Old Testament and will continue to do so at our present pace, we have finished our journey through the New Testament. However, we thought that it would be a profitable experience for those who choose to during the remainder of our reading year to experience what it would be like to plunge into an exposition of one book of the New Testament.

We have chosen the Book of Acts. We fondly recall as new believers devouring audio tapes each evening after work. With Bible and pen in hand, we intently listened at our little kitchen table in Santa Monica, California, to Pastor John MacArthur exposit the Book of Revelation and First John.

Much of our exploration of the Word this year has been built upon the foundation of our years at Grace Community Church listening to three live sermons by Pastor MacArthur each week as he taught through the Scriptures verse by verse on Wednesday evening, Sunday morning and Sunday evening. We have utilized his excellent Bibliography on commentaries and helps along with our experience of his multitude of references to historic resources of the church from Gurnall to Owen, to Spurgeon to Watson.

So here’s the plan. While we may not get through the entire Book of Acts, we will be reading the Word along with his two set commentary on Acts and each day posting the verses we will read accompanied by a link to the appropriate sermon on Acts. They are about 50 minutes long, but so worth your time as is the Word of Grace website which is a treasure house which you will want to visit over and over as you continue to mine the riches from God’s Word.

Before we plunge into the verse by verse study of the Book of Acts by Pastor MacArthur, we start today with his excellent introduction. You may not have his commentary set, but neither did we when we first started attending Grace back in 1985. You will definitely want to have your Bible, your pen, highlighters and pad of paper ready for a most profitable journey through this exciting Book.

We look forward to your comments and questions along the way. Please subscribe to this blog for the daily updates. And if you haven’t joined us before on the journey, Welcome aboard!

May God bless us all on this journey,

James and Elizabeth Stephens

Exploring God’s Library

An Introduction to the Book of Acts.

Scripture for 7.24.2020


TORAH – Mattot (Tribes) & Masei (Journeys of)
Numbers 36


PROPHETS
Jeremiah 51:1-32


THE GOSPELS & LETTERS
Acts (Read introduction) https://www.gty.org/library/bible-introductions/MSB44/acts


WISDOM WRITING
PSALM of the Day 93
PSALM 99
PROVERBS 24:15-16


If you are on the journey with us reading through the Bible, welcome to day 273 or if you
are joining us now welcome and be prepared for a life changing experience. Also please
share this reading schedule with others. We will be conducting a 5-week introduction to
the Bible class on September 15. 2020, then restarting the Bible reading from the
beginning with the Tuesday night sessions online. We look forward to you joining us!
You can reach us at exploringgodslibrary@gmail.com.