Singing Men and Singing Women

Monday, November 16, 2009

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Mixed choirs had a long history of usage in the Old Testament. It appears that male Levites were the primary musicians in the temple, but women are noted for their musical abilities as well. The versatility of these groups becomes readily apparent as we consider the following passages of Scripture.

Following the defeat of Sisera, we have a mixed duet being sung by Deborah and Barak.
    "Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves." (Judges 5:1, 2)
As the armies of Israel returned from the famous battle with the Philistines, and the defeat of Goliath, we find groups of women rejoicing and singing the praises of the victors:
    "And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick." (1 Samuel 18:6)
Barzillai, who had been a great friend to King David, mentions "singing men and singing women" in reference to his growing deafness. The implication seems to be that he enjoyed hearing vocal music when he was younger, and he misses this experience in his old age.
    "[Barzillai said,] I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?" (2 Samuel 19:35)
In the following passage, mixed choral music was used to lament the loss of King Josiah.
    "And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations." (2 Chronicles 35:25)
The following two passages reference musicians who returned from Babylon during the resoration of Jerusalem.
    "Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women." (Ezra 2:65)

    "Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women." (Nehemiah 7:67)
Using both men and women together in large singing groups provides a vocal range of over three octaves, and gives us the ability to express an incredible range of timbres, volume levels, emotional content and expressive techniques

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Curtis Hollembeak


Curtis holds a bachelor's degree in Bible with a music minor, as well as a master's degree in Sacred Music, having studied under Dr. Frank Garlock, president of Majesty Music, and Ray and Ann Gibbs, well-known Christian singers. He has served as music director and jr. high/high school supervisor at Grace Baptist Church of Mankato, Minnesota; school music director at the Franklin Road Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; media engineer for the Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and, full-time music director at Second Baptist Church and Twin City Christian Academy in Festus, Missouri. He is currently self-employed and serves in the music ministry of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Curtis is co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. He regularly sings bass with the Bible Truth Chorale on recordings produced by Bible Truth Music at Faith Music Missions.

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