Single singing in front of the audience
Single singing in front of the audience
Picture by: Ori Orhof.

The Samaritan music, sung by the  Samaritans, in  prayers , ceremonies, on Sabbath and festivals and on joyous as well as sorrowful occasions. The music is purely vocal, unaccompanied by musical instruments or other aids.  More over, it is not recorded using musical notes, but is handed orally from generation to generation through teaching and participation in prayer service.  

The Samaritans have hundreds of different melodies. Some of it are rhythmic, while others  are non rhythmic, also some are light while others heavy.  The music  consists of many bends, frills, and syllables additions to a text , until sometimes  two words can be sung  for many minutes, and include many frills that must be carefully memorized by the singer. Sometimes the same verse can be sung in more than ten different melodies.

Samaritans sing during the pilgrimage
Samaritans sing during the pilgrimage
Picture by: Ori Orhof.

Over the years, Samaritan music has been studied by many musicians and scholars from all corners of the world, such as  Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, Shlomo Hoffman and many others . Most scholars have concluded that Samaritan music is authentic, externally influential, and ancient.

The great Israeli  musician,  Menashe Ravina, has concluded his thoughts about the the Samaritan music , in his book ,Organum and the Samaritans ( Published in Tel Aviv , Israel. 1963, by the Israel Music Institute, page 60) :

This Samaritan prayer -singing couldn’t be termed merely ‘interesting’; the word does not fit the facts . Neither does the word ‘ strange’ correctly express the feelings of the listener.The Manner of reading is beyond what can be grasped within the framework of religious prayer. These sounds arouse in the listener unaccustomed to this type of singing the sensation of a terrifying experience. The impression may be gained that the chief aim of the cantor is to shock – to arouse a mysterious feeling of awe in the presence of an Unseen Power
One thing is clear: the sound is very ancient. The singing of the Samaritans is utterly unusual and original.

Samaritan music has many melodies, usually  related to the different types of poems, or to the occasion. The singing  itself  has several forms:

  1. Singing in a choir – the whole audience sing together, at one tempo.
  2. Left and right Singing – The worshipers are divided into two groups: left and right. The group on the right , together with priest, sings  first, one stanza of the poem, and when they reach a specific  line of the stanza, the  left begins to sing the next  one, till the end.
  3. Single singing – the singer sings continuously in front of the audience. Sometimes, and usually at the end of the sentences, he lowers his voice, for rest and air.
  4. Single singing with breaks – The singer  sings in front of the audience,  and the audience answers him with a repeated  chorus.

 Listen and enjoy some parts of the Samaritan  Music:

by: Osher Sassoni

Ea Abraham o Zequtu – Ho Abraham and his right.
Ela’e dargaraizem – The god of Mount Gerizim and lord of Givat Olam.
Le Lu Wem Aa Shlemet – The perfection is for God ,so learned my soul
E’la Rab U lit kabate – The only great God
Am Ba’ rrak Uo Bite as yaakob – Blessed is the house of our father Jacob
Sung by the samaritan worshipers at the end of the Passover Sacrifice.
Credit to ; Ori Orhof

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