note:Among the multitudes who read the Bible there are comparatively few who have a clear understanding of the Song of Solomon. Some have thought it to be a collection of songs, but it is more generally understood to be a sort of drama, the positive interpretation of which is impossible because the identity of the speakers and the length of the speeches are not disclosed.
1 The song of songs [the most excellent of them all] which is Solomon’s.
1:1Song of Songs: in Hebrew and Aramaic the idiom “the X of Xs” denotes the superlative (e.g., “king of kings” = “the highest king”; cf. Dt 10:17; Eccl 1:2; 12:8; Ezr 7:12; Dn 2:37). The ascription of authorship to Solomon is traditional. The heading may also mean “for Solomon” or “about Solomon.”
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.
Song of Solomon 1:1One manuscript adds, “that were made of Solomon (that were made by Solomon), to be sung in the temple of the Lord, into everlasting worshipping, and (so) needeth none other prologue.