4. The Song of Moses: All Canaan’s Heathen Race
Written by John Hoadly, 1775
Music by Thomas Linley, Jnr., 1777
Performed by The Parley of Instruments Ensemble, 1997
From the CD The Song of Moses/Let God Arise (Hyperion Helios, UK 2008)



1. Chorus
Praise be to God and God alone
Who hath his Pow’r with Glory shown.
The warrior horse behold
With his proud rider thrown,
And Chariots, Men, and Arms, and Steeds
In whelming billows roll’d
[Exodus 15:1,19]

2. Duet
Jehovia Ever be my Son
In Mercy great, in Terror Strong.
His Arm alone does Conquest Bring,
His Name alone shall wake the String.
He is our God, we will prepare his Seat;
Our Fathers’ God, our Song shall speak him Great
[Exodus 15:2-3]

3. Recitative
No Force can stand our God before,
For ‘tis the God of Hosts whom we adore.

4. Air
O Israel turn, cast we our Eyes behind.
What of unpeopled Egypt can we find?
A nameless, undistinguish’d heap
That was a king, that was an host,
With leaders bold their Country’s boast,
Now plung’d in the remorseless deep.

5. Chorus
The wave hath clos’d above each warlike haed,
Sunk like a lifeless stone, Vanish’d and Dead.
[Exodus 15:5]

6. Air
Thy Arm, O Lord of Hosts,
Is glorious in its pow’r.
Thy arm all Israel boasts
The Triumph of this hour.
Thy Arm such Ruin Pour’d,
No force they foes could shield;
They wrath their ranks devour’d
As flame the stubble field.
[Exodus 15:6-7]

7. Recitative
Lo, The waves they breath obey,
The Deep has heard they Voice.
From far and wide the floods begin
To press ev’ry side.
The waves on either hand
In solid mountains stand,
And in the heart of all the Sea
The depths congeal’d Abide.
[Exodus 15:8]

8. Chorus
The Sea is before them; They’re caught in the toil.
I’ll pursue, I’ll o’ertake, and distribute the Spoil.
I’ll satiate my Lust, and heighten my joy;
My Sword shall be drawn and my hand shall Destroy.
[Exodus 15:9]

9. Recitative
Thus the foe with haughty Pride.
But, as thy winds arose,
The Floods their host enclose.
To thee, so late defied,
In vain for help they cried.
They sank like lead at once and died.
[Exodus 15:10]

10. Air
Mong the Gods by Men adored
Who is like to thee, O Lord,
In Majesty of Thunder?
Who in Glory to be fear’d?
Who in praise to be rever’d?
Thy works are fill’d with wonder.

11. Recitative
Thou stretchest out thy hand with mighty Pow’r.
Instant, the Earth her bosom clove.
There where they sank, they found a Grave
Whence to return, Ah, never more!
[Exodus 15:12]

12. Air
Thou, as thy mercy had decreed,
Hast thy redeemed people freed.
They, guided by thy mighty hand,
With faith behold the promis’d land.
[Exodus 15:13]

13. Recitative
Thither, what power shall our March withstand?
This wonder shall before us go,
And Palestine be fill’d with woe.
The Nations round shall hear with dread,
The sons of Edom hang their heads,
And fear shall seize on Moab’s mighty land.
[Exodus 15:14-15]

14. Chorus
All Canaan’s heathen race shall melt away,
By thy restless Arm to silence Aw’d.
Nor dare against the Israel of God
Lift their unhallow’d Swords his Course to Stay,
[Exodus 15:15-16]


Source: The Song of Moses, by Thomas Linley & John Hoadly. Edited by Peter Overbeck. Published in Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era, Volume 58. No. 4, June 2002) A-R Editions. Inc,


On the Song of Moses


What songs did Moses write?

In Exodus 15:1-18 Moses and his sister Miriam composed a song of Thanksgiving to the Lord on the shores of the Red Sea and the escape from Egypt. Moses then composed his second song to the God of the Israelites, right before his death in Deuteronomy 32: 1-43; this was a song of thanksgiving and remembrance composed on the shores of the Jordan River.

Source: What Songs Did Moses Write?


Thomas Linley junior died in 1778 at the age of 22, one of the great might-have-beens of English musical history. Son of Thomas Linley senior, harpsichordist, composer and musical director of the Drury Lane Theatre, Thomas junior studied with William Boyce and with Nardini in Italy where he met Mozart, his exact contemporary.

His surviving output includes some extremely confident pieces which display a knowledge not only of the contemporary gallant style of London resident Johann Christian Bach but also the older styles of predecessors like Handel. This recording from Peter Holman, the Parley of Instruments and the Holst Choir has been re-issued on Hyperion’s mid-price Helios label, thus ensuring that two of Linley’s best surviving works are available to all who might be tempted to explore. […] ‘The Song of Moses’ is the later and weightier work – in fact it is his final work.’

Source: The Song of Moses/Let God Arise, reviewed by Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International
The libretto for The Song of Moses, based on biblical passages from Exodus 15, was written by John Hoadly (1711- 76), a poet, playwright and Anglican priest who had been chaplain to Frederick, Prince of Wales and rector of Wield, Hampshire.’

Source: The Song of Moses – Thomas Linley Junior (1756 – 1778), Aylesbury Choral Society


The libretto was first performed on Wednesday, 12 March 1777, during the Lenten Oratorios in Drury Lane. The main piece was Handel’s ‘L’Allegro, Il Penseroso’ […] Linley [played] a violin concerto after the second part of Handel’s work: At the Theatre Royal Drury-Lane To-Morrow the 12th instant, will be performed, An ORATORIO, called L’ALLEGRO IL PENSEROSO set to musick by Mr. HANDEL. To which will be added, (never performed) The SONG OF MOSES.

[…] The Morning Post and Daily Advertiser reported on the next day: ORATORIO INTELLIGENCE Drury-lane. A new sacred composition, in the oratorio plan, called the Song of Moses, written by the late Chancellor, and set to music by mr. Linley, jun. Was performed last night at this theatre for the first time. When we consider the nature of such a composition, we own we were surprised to find the Song of Moses executed in so capital a manner by so young a musician; for even in principal movements he has discovered a strength of genius, inferior to but very few musical writers in this stile;-It was received by a numerous audience with universal applause.’

Source: The Song of Moses, by Thomas Linley & John Hoadly. Edited by Peter Overbeck. Published in Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era, Vol 58. No, 4, June 2002. A-R Editions. Inc.

Moses, Mythmaking, and Minimalism, in five fragments


Fragment One: British Support for Jewish Restoration, by Ami Isserof, MidEastweb/Coexistence

The idea of Jewish restoration was not alien to British culture. In 1621, the British MP Sir Henry Finch wrote a book entitled ‘The World’s Great Restoration.’ He encouraged Jews to reassert their claim to the Holy Land, writing, ‘Out of all the places of thy dispersion, East, West, North and South, His purpose is to bring thee home again and to marry thee to Himself by faith for evermore.’ There were others as well, mostly of the Puritan faith, who had written similar books. However, after the suppression of Puritanism, the idea remained dormant in Britain until the 19th century.

[…] the skepticism of the eighteenth century enlightenment gave way to a religious revival, perhaps in reaction to the French revolution. An evangelical version of Protestantism became popular in England at this time, as it did soon after in the United States. In 1808, the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, familiarly called ‘The Jews Society,’ was founded, and it soon became very popular. The zeal for conversion was based on the idea that conversion of the Jews would bring about the Second Coming [of Jesus Christ]. Many of the members also believed that restoration of the Jews to ‘Palestine’ was necessary for this purpose.


Lord Shaftesbury was the most active restoration lobbyist. […] Shaftesbury told his biographer, Edwin Hodder, that belief in the Second Advent, ‘has always been a moving principle in my life, for I see everything going on in the world subordinate to this great event.’ Privately, he asked, ‘Why do we not pray for it every time we hear a clock string?’ Hodder stated that since the return of the Jews was required for the Second Advent, Shaftesbury ‘never had a shadow of a doubt that the Jews were to return to their own land…It was his daily prayer, his daily hope. ‘Oh pray for the peace of Jerusalem!’ were the words engraven on the ring he always wore on his right hand.’ (Tuchman, Bible and Sword, P.178).


In July of 1853, as the Crimean war loomed and the position of Turkey was challenged by Mehmet Ali in Egypt, Shaftesbury wrote to Prime Minister Aberdeen that Greater Syria was ‘a country without a nation’ in need of ‘a nation without a country… Is there such a thing? To be sure there is, the ancient and rightful lords of the soil, the Jews!’ In his diary that year he wrote ‘these vast and fertile regions will soon be without a ruler, without a known and acknowledged power to claim dominion. The territory must be assigned to some one or other… There is a country without a nation; and God now in his wisdom and mercy, directs us to a nation without a country.’ (Shaftsbury as cited in Garfinkle, Adam M., ‘On the Origin, Meaning, Use and Abuse of a Phrase.’ Middle Eastern Studies, London, Oct. 1991, vol. 27).

Thus was born the phrase that eventually became the Zionist slogan of ‘A land without a people for a people without a land.’  ’

Source: British Support for Jewish Restoration, by Ami Isserof, MidEastweb/Coexistence http://www.mideastweb.org/britzion.htm


Fragment Two: On the Problems of Reconstructing Pre-Hellenistic Israelite (Palestinian) History, by Niels Peter Lemche

The history of Israel as told by the Old Testament begins with the patriarchal age. It continues with the sojourn in Egypt followed by the Exodus and the wanderings in the desert. Then follows in succession the conquest of Canaan, the period of the Judges, the empire of David and Solomon, the era of the Hebrew kings, the exile, and the Persian period. This history officially ends with Ezra’s promulgation of the Torah, the Law of Moses, in front of the assembled inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah.

1999 represents the silver anniversary of the final settlement—represented by the contributions by Thomas L. Thompson and John Van Seters—with the idea that there ever was a patriarchal period. This is based on family stories, sagas and legends about the past, and has nothing to do with history. The idea once formulated by Albrecht Alt that there was a special patriarchal religion based on the belief in der Gott der Väter, ‘the God of the fathers’, is simply nonsense as Alt based his argument on Nabatean evidence from the 2nd century B.C.E. through the 2nd century CE.

The exodus has a long time ago passed from history into fiction. It never happened. Neither did the conquest ever happen. Several biblical scholars including myself have made this clear. From an historical point of view, the Israelites could not have conquered Canaan by destroying Canaanite forces, for the simple reason that the Egyptians still ruled Canaan when Joshua is supposed to have arrived, i.e. shortly before 1200 B.C.E. Secondly, there is no trace of foreign immigration, and thirdly, even the biblical account about the conquest is contradictory (compare Joshua to Judges 1).

In my original monograph on the period of the judges that appeared almost thirty years ago, I argued that the narratives in Judges about the heroic exploits of the Israelite judges were coloured by later experience. They were also dominated by the wish, in a paradigmatic meaning, to demonstrate how Israel should fight its enemies, the Canaanites, the Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, Aramaeans etc. These narratives do not allow us to reconstruct the history of the period between the (non-existing) conquest and the (likewise non-existing) empire of David and Solomon. The stories about the judges of Israel belong among the genre of heroic tales that most civilisations include among their memories of the past.

Source: On the Problems of Reconstructing Pre-Hellenistic Israelite (Palestinian) History, by Niels Peter Lemche, Department of Biblical Studies, The University of Copenhagen


‘About Niels Peter Lemche

Professor Niels Peter Lemche (University of Copenhagen) is a leading figure in the movement known as ‘biblical Minimalism’ a school of biblical interpretation emphasising that the Bible should be read and analysed primarily as a collection of narratives and not as an accurate historical account of the Middle East, and closely associated with the literary and archaeological studies at the University of Copenhagen. Lemche considers the traditional narratives of Israel’s history as contained in the bible to be so late in origin as to be useless for historical reconstruction. His alternative reconstruction is based entirely on the archaeological record. His thesis is construed in a variety of significant publications, including Israelites in History and Tradition (1998) and the recently published (2008) The Old Testament: Between Theology and History.’

Source: Niels Peter Lemche The Centre for Inquiry


Fragment Three: Mary Grey reviews ‘The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-Colonialism in Palestine-Israel’, by Nur Masalha

What is new and startling here are new strands in Biblical Studies (Biblical Minimalism), together with discoveries of ‘New Archaeology’ that challenge – definitively in the author’s view – any Israeli claim to possess Palestinian land using historical arguments from the Bible.


Masalha shows how the Bible was used systematically from the beginning by David Ben-Gurion (first Prime Minister of Israel) to justify the conquest of the land. The slogan ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’ (Lord Shaftesbury) became frequently invoked, especially to inculcate the idea that Palestine was an empty land, and that the Jewish presence was ‘unbroken’ since Biblical times. Thus the Bible as an historical document was crucial to the whole process, especially the Books of Exodus, Joshua and Deuteronomy, Joshua in particular acting as incitement to biblical Messianic militarism.


Throughout the book the mythologising of ancient Israel to justify conquest and annexation of territory has been a major theme. But it is not only the Zionist government that is implicated. Christian theologians and archaeologists have enthusiastically endorsed the ‘Biblical archaeology’ projects, excavating sites such as Jericho and Massada to give authenticity to Biblical ‘historical’ accounts. Generations of Christians have bought into the idea of the hostile Philistine, the ‘Amalek’ of every generation, and the innocent Israelite.

This has partly happened, Masalha explains, because the Bible has been regarded as an historical document, and as the only historical source for the history of Palestine. But if the history of Palestine is explored as a legitimate subject in its own right, and from a wider base – with literary, archaeological, and post-colonial critiques of biblical studies, a different picture emerges. Archaeology gives no record of Exodus, of forty years of wandering in the desert, of Joshua’s conquest of the land: even the Davidic Kingdom becomes reduced to the fiefdom of a small tribal chieftain. Israelites and Canaanites are more closely related, the Israelites being mostly Canaanites with a distinctive development path. So the textual narratives as we know them would have developed after the Babylonian exile (587–535) to express the experience of returning from exile and idealising myths of origin. The ‘Minimalist’ School of thought builds on this, agreeing that the Bible is largely a record of what later generations mythologised about their history, now seen to be mythologised and fictionalised. It was, wrote Philip Davies, ‘a retrospective colonising of the past’ (p. 262). These discoveries reveal Zionist policies of annexation as without factual, historical legitimation – though they never possessed moral right in the first place.

Source: The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-Colonialism in Palestine-Israel, by Nur Masalha, Zed Books, 2007. Reviewed by Mary Grey, Professorial Research fellow School of Theology, Philosophy and History St Mary’s University College. Holy Land Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1, May 2008, Edinburgh University Press


About Nur-eldeen (Nur) Masalha

Nur-eldeen (Nur) Masalha is Professor of Religion and Politics and Director of the Centre for Religion and History and the Holy Land Research Project at St. Mary’s University College, University of Surrey. He is currently also Professorial Research Associate, Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London).

He is also the editor of Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal, and the author of many books on Palestine-Israel, including The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-Colonialism in Palestine-Israel (2007), A Land Without a People (1997), Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of ‘Transfer’ in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948 (1992), Imperial Israel and the Palestinians: The Politics of Expansion (2000) and The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Problem (2003).

Masalha has also served as an honorary fellow in the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Durham University; Research Associate in the Department of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies; and has taught at Birzeit University, in Ramallah, West Bank.

Masalha is also the historian commentator in the award–winning, documentary film ‘La Terre Parle Arabe’ (the Land Speaks Arabic) (2007), directed by Maryse Gargour, which tells the graphic story of the background and build-up to the expulsion of the Palestinians from their ancestral villages and towns (now in Israel) in 1948.’

Source: Nur-eldeen Masalha http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nur-eldeen_Masalha


Fragment Four: On the Problems of Reconstructing Pre-Hellenistic Israelite (Palestinian) History, by Niels Peter Lemche

Historical-critical biblical scholarship operates within a hermeneutical circle that is really a logical circle. The source of information is more often than not the biblical text that stands alone. The conversation goes between the scholar who studies the text and the text itself. The scholar presents a theory that is based on the text and the text confirms the theory. It is an amazing fact that in biblical studies this has worked for almost 200 years, since the early days of modern scholarship at the beginning of the 19th century. Although every historical critical scholar explains that there is a problem, it has to a large degree been ignored when it comes to history writing. The standard procedure is—to quote Bernd Jørg Diebner—that although we cannot prove it, it is a fact! We cannot prove that Moses ever existed but as we cannot explain the development of Israelite monotheism without a Moses, he must have existed. Otherwise we would have to invent him … disregarding the possibility that ancient writers did exactly that!

Source: On the Problems of Reconstructing Pre-Hellenistic Israelite (Palestinian) History, by Niels Peter Lemche, Department of Biblical Studies, The University of Copenhagen www.pphf.hu/biblikum/cikkek/prehellen.pdf

Fragment Five: The Old Testament Between Theology and History: A Critical Survey, by Niels Peter Lemche.

As has already been suggested, the setting of the stories of Israel in the wilderness yields no evidence to historical analysis. The main character is Moses, who brings Israel out of Egypt, arranges for the confrontation between Israel and Yahweh at Sinai, and leads Israel trough the desert. His name is probably Egyptian and part of a well-known combination of names. It is impossible to say which Egyptian god Moses was the ‘son’ of, whether it might have been Thutmosis, Amenmosis, Ramosis (Rameses), or somebody else. Many proposals have been put forward. They all have this in common: they may all be possible, but they cannot be proven (or falsified). There is no external source with information that allows for an identification of Moses – if indeed he was a real person. In a serious historical-critical analysis of the exodus and wilderness traditions in the Old Testament, these narratives may be considered the construction of biblical historiographers. It is impossible to decide whether there is any historical background for them. It is, therefore, no credit to modern biblical scholars when they translate the biblical myths into secular history by rationalistic paraphrase.

Source: The Old Testament Between Theology and History: A Critical Survey, by Niels Peter Lemche, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008



<   >