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23And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,
23 Verse 23. Saw the minstrels and the people making a noise]

αυλητας, pipers; Anglo-Saxon, [Anglo-Saxon] the whistlers;

Gothic, haurngans haurngandans, the horn-blowers blowing with

their horns. Nearly the same as the pipublasara, pipe-blowers of

the Islandic: for among all those nations funeral lamentations

accompanied with such rude instruments, were made at the death of

relatives. That pipes were in use among the Jews, in times of

calamity or death, is evident from Jer 48:36. And among the

Greeks, and Romans, as well as among the Jews, persons were hired

on purpose to follow the funeral processions with lamentations.

See Jer 9:17-21; Am 5:16. Even the poorest among the Jews were

required to have two pipers, and one mourning woman. At these

funeral solemnities it was usual with them to drink considerably;

even ten cups of wine each, where it could be got. See Lightfoot.

This custom is observed among the native Irish to this day, in

what is called their CAOINAN. The body of the deceased, dressed

in grave-clothes and ornamented with flowers, is placed in some

eminent place; the relations and caoiners range themselves in two

divisions, one at the head and the other at the feet of the

corpse. Anciently, where the deceased was a great personage, the

bards and croteries prepared the caoinan. The chief bard of the

head chorus began by singing the first stanza in a low doleful

tone; which was softly accompanied by the harp. At the

conclusion, the foot semichorus began the lamentation, or ULLALOO,

from the final note of the preceding stanza, in which they were

answered by the head semichorus; then both united in one general


The chorus of the first stanza being ended, the chief bard of

the foot semichorus sung the second stanza, the strain of which

was taken from the concluding note of the preceding chorus, which

ended, the head semichorus began the GOL, or lamentation, in which

they were answered by that of the foot, and then, as before, both

united in the general full chorus. Thus alternately were the song

and choruses performed during the night. I have seen a number of

women, sometimes fourteen, twenty-four, or more, accompany the

deceased from his late house to the grave-yard, divided into two

parties on each side the corpse, singing the ULLALOO, alternately,

all the way. That drinking, in what is called the wake, or

watching with the body of the deceased, is practised, and often

carried to a shameful excess, needs little proof. This kind of

intemperance proceeded to such great lengths among the Jews that

the Sanhedrin were obliged to make a decree, to restrain the

drinking to ten cups each. I mention these things more

particularly, because I have often observed that the customs of

the aboriginal Irish bear, a very striking resemblance to those of

the ancient Jews, and other Asiatic nations. The application of

these observations I leave to others.

It was a custom with the Greeks to make a great noise with

brazen vessels; and the Romans made a general outcry, called

conclamatio, hoping either to stop the soul which was now taking

its flight, or to awaken the person, if only in a state of torpor.

This they did for eight days together, calling the person

incessantly by his name; at the expiration of which term the

phrase, Conclamatum est-all is over-there is no hope-was used.

See the words used in this sense by Terence, EUN. l. 347. In all

probability this was the θορυβουμενον, the making a violent

outcry, mentioned here by the evangelist. How often, on the death

of relatives, do men incumber and perplex themselves with vain,

worldly, and tumultuous ceremonies, instead of making profitable

reflections on death!