Why "Biblical Bards?"
Consider the term, "Biblical Bards."
To some it seems an oxymoron, like "your friendly hangman."
To others it is a bizzare juxtaposition, like "linoleum newspapers."
But to us, it is a focused phrase.
The term "Biblical Bards" inspires us to create a website, an
organization, a fellowship.
Let us consider the two words, "Biblical" and "Bard."
The less common term is "Bard."
And the term "bard" perhaps invokes a range of reactions:
"Doesn't that have to do with Shakespeare?"
"Dont they work at Ren fairs and stuff?"
"Technically, isn't that a ....?"
Over time, meanings of words drift, so for purposes of this study we
will look at what the words meant in previous centuries.
It was written (in the 1820's) that a "bard" was:
1. A poet and a singer among the ancient Celts; one whose
occupation was to compose and sing verses, in honor of the heroic
achievements of princes
and brave men. The bards used an instrument of music
like a lyre or guitar, and not only praised the brave but reproached
2. In modern usage, a poet.
Click here for the full
definition in our Biblical Bards Glossary
So, we see "bard" is a Celtic (French, Scottish, Irish, Welsh)
term. The craft of the Bard involves praise, satire, philosophy,
(Note also that in those days, "philosophy" meant "an explanation of
the reasons of things; or an investigation of the causes of all
phenomena both of mind and of matter.")
Bards would learn about and see the big picture and many of the
details. They would communicate this information (and perhaps
even some skills)
to individuals and families.
This indicates an approach to culture. The Bard, in practicing
his or her trade, uses music and oral communication to praise worthy
criticize those who should be held up to contempt, and explain
everything of importance.
In such a cultural approach the Bard plays many roles at the same time:
prophetic commentator, entertainer, educator, sounding board, editor,
This is certainly not a "shut up and sing" scenario. Neither is
it a case of "listen to me because I am talented."
Bards, who have something to say, should say things which are
substantive. This is a grave responsibility, and a challenge to a
culture as well as
to the bard. How does the bard get equipped, and who provides the
people and resources for that equipping?
A glance at the word "Minstrel" brings out other nuances of the
ministry of the bard in history.
[Spanish, ministril, a minstrel, and a tipstaff, or petty
officer of justice;... ]
A singer and musical performer on instruments. Minstrels
were formerly poets as well as musicians, and held in high regard by
Click here for the full definition in our Biblical Bards Glossary
Here we see a notion that the ministry of music and teaching is woven
with concerns of justice and the law.
WHAT IS A CELTIC BARD?
In summary, the Celtic term "Bard" pointed to a group of people who
- Information about Law and Justice
- Practical Science (healing arts and astronomy, for example)
- Current Events
- Worldview Training
- Insight into the Wisdom of the Culture
- and more...
But such an approach is not unique to Celtic Culture.
Let us examine another culture:
A bit of reflection reveals that the Bible itself is largely a bardic
work and reflects the strong imprint of the Bardic approach.
Everything listed above in "what is a Celtic Bard" applies also to the
key individuals who are found in the "Old Testament." Let us look
first at "the bardic books and approaches
of the Scripture" then, at a few of the Bards: Moses, Deborah, and
The "book of Psalms" is entirely a bardic work, in all senses of the
word "bard" as defined above. The heroic achievements heralded
are generally those of Yahweh: the cowardly ones reproached are the
wicked. Everything is meant to be sung.
The "Song of Solomon" and "Lamentations" are also Bardic works which
were originally sung.
Parts of the Torah, or Pentatuch (first five books of the Bible) are
Songs. In the book of Judges, one of the most notable chapters is
the "song of Deborah" discussed below.
Most other books of the Scriptures contain bardic segments.
The Psalms are the most bardic section, and it is worth noting that
Jesu / Yeshua, in the "New Testament Scriptures," quotes more
from the Psalms than any other section of "Old Testament
We should note that the word "bard" does not generally (at least to my
knowledge) find its way into Bible translations. Yet many folks
in the Scriptures do those things a bard does. So, what are the
"bards" called in the Scriptures?
Various terms are used. We will briefly list most of them.
More detail can be found in our "Glossary."
The Hebrew names for bards, translated into english:
"school of the prophets,"
"sons of the prophets," prophets, seer, judges, (brehons in irish)
levites, singers, priests, elders. Every single songwriter from
Moses and Miriam through David was called a prophet or prophetess, for
Sometimes two or more people worked together to accomplish a "bardic
One example of "team music making and prophesying" is found in I
After that thou shalt come to the hill of Elohim, where is the garrison of
the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither
to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down
from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a
harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of Yahweh
will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be
turned into another man.
Note the Minstrel and Prophet / seer work together here:
II Kings 3:14 - 16 And Elisha said, As Yahweh of hosts liveth,
before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the
presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look
toward thee, nor see thee. But now bring me a minstrel. And
it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of Yahweh
came upon him.
A BARDIC "ALL STAR TEAM"
individuals who are bards include most notably:
- Moses (judge, author of the Song of Moses: taught through song,
- Deborah (judge, singer and songwriter, prophetess)
- David (Psalmist of Israel, prophet, judge, singer, songwriter,
The "Song of Deborah " (in Chapter five of the book of Judges) is a
bardic work "dense" with the tools and materials of a bard. The
brave are praised, the actions of Yahweh are magnified most of all,
mockery showers down on the wicked, the cowardly, and the
indifferent. There is enough blood, gore, and earthy
entertainment in verse to make any bard glad to re-tell the tale!
There is history, social commentary, a bit of weather and astronomy,
and so forth.
One could look further at other bards, and other books such as
Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Job, many of the historical
books (which contain songs and song fragments) and most of the
Indeed, it can be said that those interested in the world of the
Scriptures should be very interested in learning about bardic
things. Take out all the folks that sang, healed and taught, and
what is left of the Scriptures?
In II Kings 20:7, the prophet Isaiah uses the application of a poultice
in the healing of king Hezekiah.
Finally, note the definition (cited earlier) of minstrel as officer of
many of the prophecies in Scripture are presented not as "predictions"
but as lawsuits brought by Yahweh, or decisions which are decreed in
The bard / prophet truly is functioning as a "petty officer of justice"
in the great court of Yahweh.
We can say that Bards were a central part of the culture of the
Further, large parts of the Scriptures are bardic works, or
descriptions of the actions of the bards of those eras.
To read the Scriptures we need to understand the tribal, agrarian world
it portrays. And a big part of that world is the role and
activity of the bard.
If we want to be "doers of the word" and follow Scriptural patterns,
can we do that without restoring the ministry of "Biblical Bards?"