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Song of Solomon 1 The Voice (VOICE)

Song of Songs, which is a “book” of the Bible, actually has more in common with Handel’s Messiah or Puccini’s Tosca than any prose work of the Old Testament—it’s a libretto, a record of the words sung in a musical or opera. While this song is certainly the longest libretto in the Bible, it is not the only one. The Book of Psalms is replete with them; and they often open with directions for musical instruments such as in Psalm 4, which begins, “For the worship leader. A song of David accompanied by strings.” Song of Songs lacks such instrumental direction; but through the poetic phrasing and pronoun usage, three distinct vocal parts are inherently identifiable: the female lover (who would sing soprano), the male lover (who would sing tenor), and the observing young women (who would function as the chorus). Even without the musical score, it is possible to imagine these actors breathing life into the libretto on a great stage.

For Solomon. The most sublime song of all.

Her (to him): Kiss me with the sweet kisses of your lips,
        for your love delights me more than wine.
    The pleasant aroma of your fragrance rises in the air;
        your name is like precious perfume poured out:
    This is why young women adore you.
    Take me away with you;
        let’s run away together!

    (to the young women) The king has brought me into his bedroom.

Young Women of Jerusalem (to him): We will shout for joy and celebrate over you.
        We will make it known that your love is better than the finest of wines.

Her (to him): Everyone loves you, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t.

    (to the young women) Look at me, young women of Jerusalem.
        I am dark but beautiful.
    I am dark like the tents of Kedar;
        I am beautiful like the curtains of Solomon’s temple.
    Don’t stare at my dark skin,
        for the sun looked down on me.
    My brothers’ anger scorched me;
        they made me work all day long in the vineyards,
    So I did not have time to care for my own vineyard,
        to cultivate my own body.

    (to him) Tell me, my dearest love,
        where are your sheep grazing today?
    Where are you resting with your flock at midday?
        I want to come to you.
    Why must I go looking for you like the veiled women
        wandering among the flocks of your friends?

Him (to her): If you do not know where I am,
        most beautiful of women,
    Follow the tracks of my sheep—
        they will lead you to me—
    And graze your flocks of young goats
        beside the shepherds’ tents.
    You remind me, my dear,
        of an honored mare among Pharaoh’s stallion-driven chariots;
10     The strings of jewels against your cheeks frame your elegance,
        as also the tender curve of your neck with precious gems.

11 Young Women of Jerusalem (to her): We will make for you golden jewelry to lay against your skin,
        golden jewelry studded with silver to frame your elegance.

12 Her: When the king was relaxing at his table,
        the seductive fragrance of my perfume filled the air.
13     My love is close to my heart,
        like a sachet of myrrh tucked between my breasts.
14     My love is like a fragrant bouquet of henna blossoms
        from the vineyards of Engedi.

Him: 15 How beautiful you are, my dear! How so very beautiful!
        Your eyes are like doves.

16 Her: You, my love, are so handsome! A pleasure to behold!
        Our bed is a lush, green field,
17     The beams of our house are majestic cedars,
        and the rafters are tall pines.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Song of Songs 1 New International Version (NIV)

Solomon’s Song of Songs.

She[a]

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
    for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
    your name is like perfume poured out.
    No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
    Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Friends

We rejoice and delight in you[b];
    we will praise your love more than wine.

She

How right they are to adore you!

Dark am I, yet lovely,
    daughters of Jerusalem,
dark like the tents of Kedar,
    like the tent curtains of Solomon.[c]
Do not stare at me because I am dark,
    because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me
    and made me take care of the vineyards;
    my own vineyard I had to neglect.
Tell me, you whom I love,
    where you graze your flock
    and where you rest your sheep at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled woman
    beside the flocks of your friends?

Friends

If you do not know, most beautiful of women,
    follow the tracks of the sheep
and graze your young goats
    by the tents of the shepherds.

He

I liken you, my darling, to a mare
    among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.
10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings,
    your neck with strings of jewels.
11 We will make you earrings of gold,
    studded with silver.

She

12 While the king was at his table,
    my perfume spread its fragrance.
13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
    resting between my breasts.
14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
    from the vineyards of En Gedi.

He

15 How beautiful you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!
    Your eyes are doves.

She

16 How handsome you are, my beloved!
    Oh, how charming!
    And our bed is verdant.

He

17 The beams of our house are cedars;
    our rafters are firs.

Footnotes:

  1. Song of Songs 1:2 The main male and female speakers (identified primarily on the basis of the gender of the relevant Hebrew forms) are indicated by the captions He and She respectively. The words of others are marked Friends. In some instances the divisions and their captions are debatable.
  2. Song of Songs 1:4 The Hebrew is masculine singular.
  3. Song of Songs 1:5 Or Salma
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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