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Document Details :

Title: Christian Hymnography from Romanos the Melodist to John Damascene
Author(s): LOUTH, Andrew
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 57    Issue: 3-4   Date: 2005   
Pages: 195-206
DOI: 10.2143/JECS.57.3.2005900

Abstract :
The singing of hymns in Christian worship is a practice that seemingly goes back to the beginnings of Christianity itself, and was presumably inherited from the worship of the Jewish Synagogue, though the earliest surviving evidence for Christian hymnography – a fragment preserved on one of the Oxyrhynchus papyri – is marked up to be sung according to one of the classical Greek musical modes (Hypolydian key, Hypophrygian diatonic mode, late third century). It is often argued that there are such hymns embedded in the New Testament itself (e.g., Eph 1,3-14, or Phil 2,6-11), and the Apocalypse, in depicting the worship of the heavenly courts, doubtless reflects in some way the experience of Christian worship at the end of the first century. There is, however, very little evidence of any actual early Christian hymns; apart from the papyrus already mentioned, the Gloria in excelsis, and the hymn Phos hilaron, are attested in the fourth century as already ancient, and may well go back to the third or even the second century, but these are exceptions.