Monday, April 8, 2013


I am teaching a class in the Old Testament, and the two students are really getting into the stories.  It reminds me of a kind of musical genre in southern Spain called the Sevillanas Bíblicas.  These are verses sung in the sevillana style, using biblical (mainly Old Testament) stories.

It's wonderful how biblically literate the people were back in the "good old days," when many people, in fact, could not read or write, and when, we are accused, we Catholics didn't know the Bible!

The verses use the Bible stories to bring home a moral lesson.  Here are some of them :

David (in balcony on left) watches Bathsheba bathing
(2 Samuel 11:1-27)

La vió el Rey David a Betsabé en el baño;
No quedó tan prendado como yo de tí.
Hubo misterio en la carta de Urías,
Seguro y fiero.
(King David saw Bathsheba in the bath;
he wasn't taken with her as much as I am with you.
There was a mystery in Uriah's letter,
sure and fierce.)
King David sees a naked woman Bathsheba bathing, and he is swept away with lust.  She is a married woman, married to none other than one of David's own warriors risking his life to fight his war.  He sleeps with her, commiting adultery.  She becomes pregnant.  David tries to lure Uriah, her husband, to sleep with her, but he refuses to even sleep in his own home while his fellow soldiers sleep in the battlefield.  Uriah is "rewarded" for his loyalty by being placed in the front of battle by order of David, who writes this order in a letter to Joab, the commander.  In the thick of battle, the troops are to pull back, exposing Uriah to the enemy.  Uriah is killed, fighting for a king who defiled his wife and who engineered his death.
Judith cuts off the head of Holofernes
(Judith 13:1-10)

Venció a Holofernes cuando la hermosa Judit
Lo venció con caricias, no con desdenes.
Supo cortarle la cabeza del cuello
Y degollarle.
(She defeated Holofernes when the beautiful Judith
defeated him with caresses, not with disdain.
She knew to cut the head from the throat
and to behead him.)
Holofernes was a Babylonian general making war on Israel.  In order to save her people, Judith decides to enter his tent and seduce him.  Holofernes was smitten, and invited her to feast with him.  Holofernes had too much to drink, and when the coast was clear, Judith cut off his head while he lay passed out.  How easy the mighty fall because of their sensual appetites.

Delilah cuts off the hair of a sleeping Samson
(Judges 16:1-21)

Dalila infame, mientras Sansón dormía
Los hilos de la fuerza supo cortarle.
Sirva de aviso que a mayor confianza
Mayor peligro.
(Infamous Delilah, while Samson was sleeping
knew to cut off the locks of strength from him.
Let it serve as a warning that the greater the trust
the greater the danger.)
Samson had extraordinary strength because he never cut his hair, as a vow to God.  The Philistines asked Delilah to find out the source of Samson's strength.  Three times Samson told Delilah lies about his strength, but after persistent nagging and because he loved her, he finally told her the truth.  While he slept on her lap, she had the locks of hair cut off.  The moral : the greater the trust you have in people, the more you put yourself in danger.
Absalom's hair gets tangled in a tree
(2 Samuel 18:9)

Absalón presumía de sus cabellos
Que no le competían angeles bellos.
Sirva de aviso que sus cabellos fueron
Su precipicio.
(Absalom bragged about his hair
that beautiful angels did not compete with him.
Let it serve as a warning that his hair
was his downfall.)
No one was as handsome as Absalom in all the land, and his hair was his glory.  He was the son of King David, but ambitious and rebellious.  He betrayed his father and revolted against him.  While being chased, his hair got tangled in a tree as he rode by.  His enemies found him hanging there, and killed him.  The very thing you glory in may well be the cliff you fall off.

For the music, listen to

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