I expect that lyrical repetition has been around for as long as singing itself. It’s a potent device. If you want to write a hit pop song, get yourself a simple, singable chorus and a catchy hook, and lean into it hard: just drill it into your listeners’ heads. And whatever lyrical gymnastics you’re pulling off in your rap track, whatever rapid-fire vocals and complex internal rhymes, make sure you’ve got a good call-and-response chorus to get the audience bouncing. And to go back further, if you’re an ancient Hebrew lyricist, you too can put these techniques to work. Enter Psalm 118.
Okay, let’s get thorough. The prophecy of Ephraim’s captivity in Isaiah 28, which we looked at yesterday, isn’t merely about drunkenness, and it’s intended as a warning for the kingdom of Judah. Isaiah addresses the second half of his message to the “scoffers who rule this people who are in Jerusalem” (28:14). The head is rotten and the leadership is subject to judgment.
I can’t read Isaiah 3 without thinking of Johnny Q. Public’s song “Women of Zion.” Isaiah 3 ends with a denunciation of the daughters of Zion’s arrogance, saying that God will strip them of their beauty and ornamentation. I’m pretty sure it influenced Peter’s exhortation to humility for women in 1 Peter 3:1-6, but it also inspired Johnny Q. Public to write a musical interpretation of the passage with ludicrously literal lyrics. Consider the chorus: “Bald women, should’ve been humble; Bald women, should’ve been smarter; Bald women: you’re bald because you’re bald.” Sheer genius.