Oxyrhynchus hymn

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The Oxyrhynchus hymn is a Christian Greek religious song with lyrics and musical notation from the 3rd century AD. The hymn was written on a manuscript that was discovered in 1918 in modern Egypt, published in 1922, and now preserved in Oxford University.[1]

Description[change | change source]

The lyrics of the Oxyrhynchus hymn were written in the Greek language.[2] They use poetry to summon silence in praise of the Holy Trinity, a motif of ancient Greek hymns called cosmic stillness.[2] The music of the Oxychynchus hymn is composed in Greek vocal notation.[3] Overall, the Oxyrhynchus hymn illustrates the historical continuity of Greek culture where educated Christian Greeks accepted and used the musical notation of their ancient Greek ancestors.[4] Also, it is the only surviving piece of Christian Greek music from the first 400 years of Christianity.[5]

Text[change | change source]

The Phos Hilaron and the Oxyrhynchus hymn are the earliest existing Greek hymns used in Christian worship, but are not based on the Bible.[6]

  1. . . . together all the eminent ones of God. . .
  2. . . . night] nor day (?) Let it/them be silent. Let the luminous stars not [. . .],
  3. . . . [Let the rushings of winds, the sources] of all surging rivers [cease]. While we hymn
  4. Father and Son and Holy Spirit, let all the powers answer, "Amen, amen, Strength, praise,
  5. [and glory forever to God], the sole giver of all good things. Amen, amen."[7]
Piece of the Oxyrhynchus hymn (measurements: 29.6 x 4.8–5.0 centimeters).[8]

References[change | change source]

Citations[change | change source]

  1. Grenfell and Hunt 1922, pp. 21–25; Pöhlmann & West 2001, p. 192.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cosgrove 2011, 37–63, Chapter Three: "Interpretation of the Text". The cosmic stillness motif is also found in Homer's Iliad (19.255–19.256), Callimachus's hymn to Apollo, Limenius's hymn to Apollo, in one of Mesomedes's hymns, in two of Synesius's hymns, etc.
  3. McKinnon 2001; Pöhlmann & West 2001, pp. 190–193.
  4. Lang 1941, p. 23.
  5. Smith 2011, 28; Lang 1941, 23.
  6. Smith 2011, 211.
  7. Cosgrove 2011, 37.
  8. Cosgrove 2011, 13.

Sources[change | change source]

  • Cosgrove, Charles H. 2011. An Ancient Christian Hymn with Musical Notation: Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1786: Text and Commentary. Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum 65. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3-16-150923-0.
  • Grenfell, Bernard Pyne, and Arthur Surridge Hunt. 1922. "1786. Christian Hymn with Musical Notation". The Oxyrhynchus Papyri 15, nos. 1778–1828:21–25. London: Egypt Exploration Fund.
  • Lang, Paul Henry. 1941. Music in Western Civilization. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-393-04074-6.
  • McKinnon, James W. 2001. "Christian Church, Music of the Early. §II: Special Issues, 8. The Musical Character of Early Christian Song". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 9780333608005.
  • Pöhlmann, Egert, and Martin Litchfield West. 2001. Documents of Ancient Greek Music: The Extant Melodies and Fragments. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-815223-X.
  • Smith, John Arthur. 2011. Music in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.; Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4094-9423-2.
  • West, Martin Litchfield. 1992. Ancient Greek Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-814975-1.

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Levy, Kenneth. 1958–62. "The Byzantine Sanctus and its Modal Tradition in East and West". Annales Musicologiques 6:7–67.

Discography[change | change source]

  • Ensemble Kérylos a music group directed by scholar Annie Bélis and dedicated to the recreation of ancient Greek and Roman music. 1996. "Hymne chrétienne d'Oxyrhynchus." Musique de l'Antiquité grecque. K617.069.
  • Atrium Musicæ de Madrid, Gregorio Paniagua. 1979. "Christian Hymn of Oxyrhynchus." Musique de la Grèce Antique. Harmonia Mundi (France) HMA 1901015. Arles: Harmonia Mundi.
  • Christodoulos Halaris. 1992. "Hymn to the Holy Trinity". Music of Ancient Greece. Orata ORANGM 2013. [Greece]: Orata Ltd.
  • Ensemble De Organographia. 1995. "Christian hymn, Anonymous (3rd c. AD) Oxyrhynchus papyrus 1786." Music of the Ancient Greeks. Pandourion PRCD1001. Oregon City: Pandourion Records. Track sample available at: http://www.liturgica.com/Home/litEChLit Archived 2021-05-09 at the Wayback Machine

Other websites[change | change source]