Sons of Levi (Knights of Malta)
DESCRIPTION: The singer calls all "Knights of (Malta)" to join with him to fight for good. "For we are the true-born Sons of Levi, None on earth can with us compare." The listeners are guided through the (Templar) ritual, and acts of God in Israel are recalled
EARLIEST DATE: 1907 (Grieg)
KEYWORDS: knight religious soldier
FOUND IN: Ireland Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber)) US(Ap)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
SHenry H146, pp. 180-181, "The Knights of Malta" (1 text, 1 tune)
Graham/Holmes 75, "The True-Born Sons of Levi" (1 text, 1 tune); p. 281, "Sons of Levi, A New Masonic Song" (a reprint of the National LIbrary of Scotland broadside)
Greig #155, p. 1, "The Sons of Levi" (1 text)
GreigDuncan3 470, "The Sons of Levi" (1 text)
Ord, pp. 393-292, "The Knights of Malta" (1 text)
Fuson, p. 203, "The Sons of Levi" (1 text)
ST HHH146 (Full)
NLScotland, RB.m.143(156), "Sons of Levi, A New Masonic Song," unknown, c. 1880-1900
cf. "The Knight Templar's Dream" (style)
cf. "The Mason's Word - Keep Your Mouth Shut" (tune, per Greig)
NOTES: The Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, or Hospitallers for short, was founded during the Crusades, first as a refuge for pilgrims in need and then as a knightly order to defend the holy sites. After the last Crusader city, Acre, fell in 1291, they gradually retreated across the Mediterranean, settling in Malta in 1530.
Since that time, the Hospitallers have been known as the "Knights of Malta," even though they have been based in Rome since Napoleon pushed them out of Malta in 1798.
The Hospitallers had strong requirements of initates, which may be reflected in the song. The order was suppressed in England in early Protestant times, but re-formed in the nineteenth century. I doubt the song actually originates with the Hospitallers, though; they would not publish such a broadside. Rather, it appears to be a Masonic piece, though one with unusual popularity (perhaps because it has been mated with at least one very good tune).
Scriptural references in the song are numerous, e.g.
* Joshua crossing Jordan, taking twelve stones along, with the Ark of the Covenant, and ending in Gilgal: Joshua 3:12-4:24
* Noah planted the first garden: Properly the first vineyard; Gen. 9:20. The Bible calls Noah the first tiller of the soil in the same verse, but Cain is called the first tiller in Genesis 4:2
Moses planted Aaron's rod: Probably a reference to the budding rod in Numbers 17:1-11, though the next few lines refer to the crossing of the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds), Exodus 14:16-29.
Nowhere did Moses turn the Jordan into blood (Moses didn't even reach the banks of Jordan); he turned the Nile to blood in Exodus 7:18-24.
The "ark," of course, is not Noah's Ark but the Ark of the Covenant; the Sons of Levi were the holy tribe of Israel.
The lines in the chorus about the root and branch of David, and the morning star, are from Rev. 22:16 (I'd quibble a bit with the King James translation of the verse -- the New Revised Standard Version renders "I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star" -- but of course the song is based on the Bible as the Masons knew it). And "the branch" was emphatically a messianic title; Zechariah 3:8, "I am going to bring my servant the Branch," was meant to refer both to the heir of David (Zerubbabel) and the coming messiah, although it appears the Persians suppressed Zerubbabel and the text was rewritten. The title "the Branch" does not occur explicitly in the New Testament. - RBW
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