Vol 1. The Invention of Writing and the Earliest Literatures: Music

Psalm 18: David's Victory Song


A psalm is, simply put, a hymn, usually addressed to God. The Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible contains many psalms said to have been written by King David, whose reign of Israel is related in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles. This psalm of praise bears the introductory text "To the chief musician, a psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul." The struggle between Saul, the first king of Israel, and David is told in 1 Samuel.

Sama-Veda (opening hymn)


The four Vedas—Rig-Veda, Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, and Atharva-Veda— together comprise the oldest sacred writings of Hinduism. In their present form, they are believed to date from about 200 B.C.E., but they were part of an oral tradition for about a thousand years before that. The Rig-Veda, first of the four, contains over one thousand hymns; the Sama-Veda takes stanzas from the Rig-Veda and sets them to melodies. Unlike the hymns in the other Vedas, which are recited, the hymns in the Sama-Veda are sung.

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