1 By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willowsa there
we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song
in a foreign land?
Greek vase with muse playing the phorminx, a type of lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrumentknown for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from theGreek "λύρα" (lyra)and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greekru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written inLinear B syllabic script. The earliest picture of a lyre with seven strings appears in the famoussarcophagus of Hagia Triada (a Minoansettlement in Crete). The sarcophagus was used during theMycenaean occupation of Crete (1400 BC).The recitations of theAncient Greeks were accompanied by lyre playing. The lyre of classical antiquity was ordinarily played by being strummed with a plectrum, like a guitar or a zither, rather than being plucked, like a harp. The fingers of the free hand silenced the unwanted strings in the chord. The lyre is similar in appearance to a small harp but with distinct differences.
The word lyre can either refer specifically to a common folk-instrument, which is a smaller version of the professional kitharaand eastern-Aegeanbarbiton, or lyre can refer generally to all three instruments as a family.
The term is also usedmetaphorically to refer to the work or skill of a poet, as in Shelley's "Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is" or Byron's "I wish to tune my quivering lyre,/To deeds of fame, and notes of fire"