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Jewish Shophar

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The Jewish Shophar, a simple ram's horn, a woodcut of which, drawn from an interesting example preserved at the great Synagogue, Aldgate, London, figures at the end of this Introduction, is the oldest wind instrument in present use in the world. It is first named in the Bible as sounding when the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, and there seems to be little doubt that it has been continuously used in the Mosaic Service from the time it was established until now. It is sounded in the synagogues at the New Year and on the Fast of the Day of Atonement. The Talmud gives ten reasons for sounding the Shophar at the New Year, which may be summed up as reminding those who hear it of the Creation, Penitence, and the Law, of the Prophets, who were as watchmen blowing trumpets, of the Temple and the Binding of Isaac, of Humility, the gathering together of Israel, the Resurrection, and the day of Judgment, when the trumpet shall sound for all. The embouchure of the Shophar is very difficult, and but three proper tones are usually obtained from it, although in some instances-xiii- higher notes can be got. The short rhythmic flourishes are common, with unimportant differences, to both the German and Portuguese Jews, and consequently date from before their separation.

Musical Instruments
Historic, Rare and Unique
Author: A. J. Hipkins
Illustrator: William Gibb
Published in 1888
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