From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


1 . Introductory .—In the earliest period the terms ‘hymn’ (ὕμνος) and ‘to hymn’ (ὑμνεῖν) seem to have covered practically every kind of composition which was sung or rhythmically recited in Christian worship or the Christian assemblies.

In  Colossians 3:16 and  Ephesians 5:19 the three terms ὑμνος (‘hymn’), ψαλμός (‘psalm’), and ᾠδή (‘song’) are found together as descriptive of the acts of praise offered to God in the early Christian assemblies. ‘While the leading idea of ψαλμ. is a musical accompaniment, and that of ῦμν. praise to God, ᾠδή is the general word for a song, whether accompanied or unaccompanied, whether of praise or on any other subject. Thus it was quite possible for the same song to be at once ψαλμός, ὕμνος, and ᾠδή (Lightfoot on  Colossians 3:16).

Specifically hymns came in course of time to be distinguished from psalms ( i.e. the canonical Bk. of Psalms* [Note: It is possible that in  Colossians 3:16,  Ephesians 5:19 the term ψαλμός is similarly restricted in meaning,] ) and canticles (‘poetical extracts from Holy Scripture which are incorporated among the Psalms in the Divine office’† [Note: Chr. Ant. i. 284.] ). This, of course, applies to the period subsequent to the fixing of the Canon. But the earliest ecclesiastical hymns, in this sense, were not metrical.

The ecclesiastical canticles under the title of ᾠδαί immediately follow the Psalter in certain of the Greek uncials and in a large number of the Greek cursive MSS [Note: SS Manuscripts.] . Nine of them are now sung at Lauds in the office of the orthodox Greek Church. Codex A gives the following in the following order:‡ [Note: Swete, Introd. to the OT in Greek, p. 253 f.]

(1)  Exodus 15:1-18 (‘song of Moses in Exodus’); (2)  Deuteronomy 32:1-43 (‘Song of Moses in Deut.’); (3)  1 Samuel 2:1-10 (‘Prayer of Haonah’); (4)  Isaiah 26:9-20 (‘prayer of Isaiah’); (5)  Jonah 3:5-10 (‘Prayer of Jonah’); (6)  Habakkuk 3:1-19 (‘Prayer of Habakkuk’); (7)  Isaiah 38:10-20 (‘Prayer of Hezekiah’); (8) The Prayer of Manasseh; (9)  Daniel 3:26-30; (10) Dn 3:52–88; (11) Magnificat  ; (12) Nunc Dimittis  ; (13) Benedictus  ; (14) Morning Hymn (= full form of Gloria in Excelsis ).

2 . Jewish Liturgical usage .—In the Temple services the Psalms naturally played a great part. For the daily service the order of the Psalms, which were sung to a musical accompaniment by the Levitical choir,§ [Note: Edersheim, Temple, etc. p. 143 f.] was as follows: 1st day of the week, Psalms 24; Psalms 2 nd, Psalms 48; Psalms 3 rd, Psalms 82; Psalms 4 th, Psalms 94; Psalms 5 th, Psalms 81; Psalms 6 th, Psalms 93; Sabbath, Psalms 92. Special Psalms were also used for special occasions.

It has been questioned whether psalmody formed an element in the early synagogue-service (see esp. Gibson, Expositor , July 1890, pp. 25–27). It is true that in the Mishna|| [Note: | Cf. esp. Meg. iv. 3.] the only elements explicitly recognized in the synagogue-service are: (1) the Shemaʽ; (2) prayer; (3) the reading of the Law; and (4) the reading of the Prophets, and the benediction. But we know from the NT that in addition to this the practice of translating and expounding the Scripture-lection was also in vogue; and it may be inferred that on certain special occasions the ‘Hallel,’ at any rate, was recited in the synagogues (see Hallel).¶ [Note: It is worth noting that the regular term employed in the Mishna is to ‘read’ (קרא) the Hallel. In the Temple-service it was sung. Cf. also the benediction said before Hallel, which was probably the composition of the Pharisees (‘who hast commanded us to read the Hallel’).] But it is difficult to believe that other parts of the Psalter were not also recited there. The internal evidence of the Psalms suggests that some at least were specially intended for synagogue use: esp. the ‘Hallelujah’ Psalms (105, 106, 107, 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, 118, 135, 136, 146–150).** [Note: * Cf. Cheyne, Origin of the Psalter, p. 14, note g, and p. 363 f. Psalms 146-150 form a well-defined group in the synagogue-liturgy, and are used in the daily morning service (cf. Singer, Heb.-Eng. Prayer-Book, p. 29 f.). Compare with this the custom in certain parts of the early Church of reciting the “Hallelujah’ Psalms daily. See Grunwald, Heber den Einfluss der Psalmen auf die Katholische Liturgie, Heft iii. p. 23.] However this may be, it is practically certain that a part, at least, of the sacred poetry of the OT, such as the Red Sea Song (Exodus 15), the special psalms for the days of the week, the Hallel, and possibly, also, the ‘Psalms of Degrees,’ would be known in Palestine in their Hebrew form in the time of Christ from their liturgical use in public worship, esp. in the Temple.†† [Note: † Cf. also the so-called Psalter of Solomon, which may have been intended ‘for public or oven liturgical use,’ and which almost certainly goes lack to a Hebrew original See ed. by Ryle and James, p. xci.] Examples of post-biblical poetry (Hebrew) of the early period (before the destruction of the Temple) are very rare. For an instance cf. Mishna, Sukkâ v. 4 (a liturgical piece).

3 . The Evangelical Canticles .—The poetical pieces which we know as the Magnificat, Benedictus, Nune Dimittis , and Gloria in Excelsis (Angels’ song), and which are embodied in the first two chapters of the Third Gospel, are probably the earliest examples of Christian hymns. They are ascribed to the Virgin Mary, Simeon, Zacharias, and the Angels respectively; but it is more probable that they are to be regarded as original liturgical compositions, refleeting the piety and devotion of the early Jewish-Christian community in Palestine. Probably, too, they are translations from Hebrew originals, and were at first sung or chanted in Hebrew.* [Note: See an article by the present writer in ZNTW vi. p. 80 f. (Feb. 1905), on ‘The Gospel Narratives of the Nativity,’ etc.] The hymns themselves are obviously modelled on the psalm-poetry of the OT, some of which, as has been pointed out, would be generally familiar in its Hebrew form to the Aramaic-speaking Jews of Palestine in the time of Christ.† [Note: op. cit. p. 95.]

For details as to the dependence of these hymns on the OT see the commentaries (in particular, Plummer, Intern. Crit. Com . on ‘St. Luke’). Notice the prominence of the idea of a Messianic redemption from sin, which is characteristically Jewish-Christian (cf.  Luke 1:77 with Plummer’s note; and cf.  Matthew 1:21). For the poetical form and structure cf. esp. Briggs, The Messiah of the Gospels (1894), ch. ii., and New Light on the Life of Jesus (1904), ch. xiii. (the latter esp. valuable). The present writer finds himself in independent agreement with Briggs in regarding  Matthew 1:20 b, 21 as a translation from a Hebrew poetical piece.‡ [Note: That a Hebrew original underlies these two verses is shown by the fact that the play upon words in v. 21 (Jesus shall save) can he elucidated only by Hebrew—not Aramaic—phraseology (יושִׁיעַ,יִשׁוּעַ).] According to the same scholar, the full number of poetical pieces given in Luke is seven, viz.: (1) The Annunciation to Zacharias ( Luke 1:13-17); (2) the Annunciation to Mary (4 parts:  Luke 1:28;  Luke 1:30-33;  Luke 1:35-38); (3) the Annunciation to the Shepherds (2 parts:  Luke 2:10;  Luke 2:12;  Luke 2:14); (4) the Song of Elisabeth ( Luke 1:42-45); (5) the Song of Mary (= Magnificat ,  Luke 1:46-55); (6) the Song of Zacharias (= Benedictus ,  Luke 1:68-79); (7) the Song of Simeon (= Nunc Dimittis ,  Luke 2:29;  Luke 2:32, to which should be appended  Luke 2:34-35). Of these all but No. (5) are trimeter poems; (5) is a pentameter poem, as is also  Matthew 1:20 b.  Matthew 1:21. Probably all go back to two long poems (a trimeter and pentameter), from which the above are extracts.

4 . Other Hymns and Hymn-pieces .—( a ) It has been suggested with some plausibility that the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel ‘is a hymn to the Logos, composed independently of the Gospel and prefixed to it.’§ [Note: for details Briggs, The Messiah of the Apostles (1895), pp. 495–515; he compares the above to the ‘credal hymn’ in  1 Timothy 3:14.] Here also Professor Briggs deteets a trimeter poem originally arranged in three parts.|| For other possible extracts from early Christian hymns in the NT, reference may here be made to ‘Hymn’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible ii. p. 440 f.

In the Apocalypse, also, there are a number of songs (ᾠδαί) which may, perhaps, be regarded as traditional Jewish-Christian hymns (cf.  Revelation 4:11;  Revelation 5:9 f,  Revelation 5:12 f,  Revelation 11:17 f,  Revelation 15:3 f.).

It is possible that the curious phrase, ‘ Amen, come ’ ( Revelation 22:20), may be an acrostic reference to a Jewish hymn which is still sung in the synagogue ( ’En Kçtóhçnú , ‘There is none like our God,’ Singer, p. 167). This composition, in its present form, consists of 5 verses of 4 lines each. The initial letters of the lines of the 5 verses form the words אמןבא =‘, come.’|| [Note: | Cf. Schiller-Szinessy in the Ency. Brit., s.v. ‘Midrash’ (p. 286), and C. Taylor, Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, p. 78 f.; also an art. by the present writer in Church and Synagogue, iii. p. 41 f. (Jan. 1901).] A Hebraized form (הִמְנוֹן) of the Greek term ὑμνος occurs in the Midrash (cf. Ber. Rabba viii. 9 = a hymn to a king).

( b ) The Hosanna-hymn , or cry of praise of Palm Sunday, with which Jesus was greeted on His last entry into Jerusalem,¶ [Note: Also afterwards by the children in the Temple,  Matthew 21:15.] is given in various forms in the Gospels. In its simplest form it occurs in  Mark 11:9 and  John 12:13, which really give the cry of the multitude: הושענאברוךהבאבשםיהוה. The additions that occur in the other passages (τῷ νἱῷ Δαυείδ,  Matthew 21:9;  Matthew 21:15; and ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις,  Matthew 21:9,  Mark 11:10)** [Note: *  Mark 11:10 will thus be a later addition. It is noteworthy that the original form without these additions occurs only in the Fourth Gospel. Lk. (19:38) omits ‘Hosanna’ and alters the Psalm-verse into, ‘Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.’ See art. Hosanna.] seem really to be later amplifications due to liturgical influence, when ὡσαννά (which in its Hebrew form הושע־נא is really a cry addressed to God, ‘ Save now  !’) was misunderstood as a shout of homage or greeting = ‘Hail!’ or ‘Glory to.’ See Dalman, Words of Jesus (English translation), p. 220 f.

Cheyne’s explanation, Encyc. Bibl. s.v . ‘Hosanna,’ is hardly convincing. Lightfoot, in his interesting note on  Matthew 21:12 ( Horae Heb. ed. Gandell, ii. 274 f.), ingeniously paraphrases, ‘Save us, we beseech Thee, O Thou [who dwellest] in the highest,’ taking ἐν τοίς ὑψίστοις as a substitute for the Divine name. This is barely possible.

The Hosanna-cry (cf.  Psalms 118:25 f.) and the palm branches naturally suggest the Feast of Tabernacles, with the ceremonies of which they were most closely associated (esp. in the ‘Hosanna’ processions of the Festival).* [Note: For a description of these see Dembitz, Jewish Services, etc., p. 323 f.] It seems, however, that such processions might be extemporized for other occasions of a joyous character (cf.  1 Maccabees 13:51,  2 Maccabees 10:7), and this was the case in the scene described in the Gospels.

Wünsche, indeed ( Erläuterungen der Evangelien aus Talmud und Midrash , p. 241), supposes that a confusion has arisen in the Gospel accounts between Tabernacles and Passover; but this is unnecessary. It is noteworthy that there seem to be traces in the Midrash on the Psalms of the Messianic interpretation of  Psalms 118:25.† [Note: also the citation of v. 22 ff. of the same Psalm in  Matthew 21:42.]

Literature.—The most important contributions to the subject of NT hymnody are the works of Briggs above cited. Reference may also he made to artt. ‘Hosanna’ in the Jewish Encyc . and Encyc. Bibl . respectively; also to ‘Hymns’ in Encyc. Bibl .; ‘Hymn’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible.; ‘Hymn,’ ‘Canticle,’ in Dict. Chr. Ant ., and to ‘Kirchenlied i. (in der alten Kirche)’ and ‘Liturgische Formeln’ in PR E [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] . Other references have been given in the body of the article.

G. H. Box.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

Old Testament Ceremonial religious singing is mentioned in the Old Testament in connection with important events, such as the songs in celebration of the Hebrews' passage through the Red Sea ( Exodus 15:1-21 ), Deborah and Barak's triumph song after the defeat of the forces of Jabin, king of Hazor ( Judges 5:1-31 ), and the women's song at David's victorious return from battle with the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 18:6-7 ). Moses also gave the Israelites some of his last warnings in a great song ( Deuteronomy 32:1-43 ). The Book of Psalms is a hymn book. The hymns in it were written by different authors over a long period of time and used by the people of Israel in their worship. The collection of 150 psalms eventually was included in Hebrew Scripture. Hymn singing in the Jerusalem Temple was led by trained choirs, sometimes using instrumental accompaniment ( 2 Chronicles 29:25-28 ). The people joined the choir in singing hymns in unison, responsively, and antiphonally.

Hymn is also the technical term for a specific literary type of material in Psalms. In this sense a hymn expresses the congregation's praise of God's greatness and majesty, usually addressing members of the congregation and inviting them to praise God. A hymn usually includes a call to the congregation to join in praise ( Psalm 33:1-3 ), a list of reasons to praise God ( Psalm 33:4-19 ), and a concluding call to praise or statement of trust ( Psalm 33:20-22 ).

New Testament The Bible makes it clear that the singing of spiritual songs was a part of the early Christian church. Among the songs in the New Testament are several outstanding songs that have become a part of liturgical Christian worship:  Luke 1:46-55 , Mary's song—”The Magnificat”;  Luke 1:68-79 , Zacharias' prophetic song—”The Benedictus”; and  Luke 2:29-32 , Simeon's blessing of the infant Jesus and farewell—”The Nunc Dimittis.” Numerous doxologies ( Luke 2:14;  1 Timothy 1:17;  1 Timothy 6:15-16;  Revelation 4:8 , for example) doubtless were used in corporate worship. Other passages in the New Testament give evidence of being quotations of hymns or fragments of hymns ( Romans 8:31-39;  1 Corinthians 13:1;  Ephesians 1:3-14;  Ephesians 5:14;  Philippians 2:5-11;  1 Timothy 3:16;  2 Timothy 2:11-13;  Titus 3:4-7 ). As for references to the word itself, the New Testament states that Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn at the end of the Last Supper ( Matthew 26:30;  Mark 14:26 ). Most Bible students think they sang part of  Psalm 115-118 , hymns known as the Hallel, which traditionally were sung after supper on the night of Passover. The division of Christian song into psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs ( Ephesians 5:19;  Colossians 3:16 ) should not to be taken to mean that there were three distinct types or styles of vocal music in use in those days. The reference indicates that Christian song was used in worship, to instruct in the faith, and to express joy. In another New Testament reference,  Acts 16:25 , the mention of singing “praises” to God obviously means that Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison. The author of the Book of Hebrews stressed in  Acts 2:12 (a quotation of the messianic   Psalm 22:22 ) that Jesus will declare His name to the church, that He will “sing praise,” or hymns. Today, the hymnal is known as the companion to the Bible because hymns play a large part in Christian life.

J. William Thompson

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

HYMN (in NT; for OT, see Music, Poetry, Psalms). The Greek word signified specifically a poem in praise of a god or hero, but it is used, less exactly, also for a religious poem, even one of petition. The use of hymns in the early Christian Church was to be anticipated from the very nature of worship, and from the close connexion between the worship of the disciples and that of the Jews of that and earlier centuries. It is proved by the numerous incidental references in the NT (cf. Act 16:25 ,   1 Corinthians 14:26 ,   Ephesians 5:19 ,   James 5:13 , and the passages cited below), and by the famous letter of Pliny to Trajan describing the customs of the Christians. We lack, however, any collection of hymns comparable to the Psalms of the OT. Doubtless the Psalms were largely used, as at the Passover feast when the Lord’s Supper was instituted (  Matthew 26:30 ); but in addition new songs would be written to express the Intense emotions of the disciples, and even their spontaneous utterances in the gatherings of early Christians would almost inevitably take a rhythmical form, modelled more or less closely upon the Psalms. In some localities, perhaps, Greek hymns served as the models. St. Paul insists (  1 Corinthians 14:15 ,   Colossians 3:16 ) that the singing be with the spirit and the understanding, an intelligent expression of real religious feeling. These passages specify ‘psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.’ While at first it seems as if three classes of composition are here distinguished, either as to source or character, it is probably not the case, especially as in   Matthew 26:30 ,   Mark 14:26 the verb ‘to hymn’ is used of singing a psalm. Luke’s Gospel contains several hymns, but does not mention their use by the disciples. They are the Magnificat (  Luke 1:46-55 ), the Benedictus (  Luke 1:68-76 ), the Gloria in Excelsis (  Luke 2:14 ), and the Nunc Dimittis (  Luke 2:29-32 ). Whether these were Jewish or Jewish-Christian in origin is disputed. The free introduction of hymns of praise in the Apocalypse, in description of the worship of the new Jerusalem, points to their use by the early Church. The poetical and liturgical character of some other NT passages is asserted with more or less reason by different scholars ( e.g.   Ephesians 5:14 , 1Ti 1:17;   1 Timothy 3:16;   1 Timothy 6:16 ,   2 Timothy 4:18 ). See Hastings’ DCG [Note: CG Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels.] , art. ‘Hymn.’

Owen H. Gates.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

A — 1: Ὕμνος (Strong'S #5215 — Noun Masculine — humnos — hoom'-nos )

denotes "a song of praise addressed to God" (Eng., "hymn"),  Ephesians 5:19;  Colossians 3:16 , in each of which the punctuation should probably be changed; in the former "speaking to one another" goes with the end of ver. 18, and should be followed by a semicolon; similarly in  Colossians 3:16 , the first part of the verse should end with the words "admonishing one another," where a semicolon should be placed.

B — 1: Ὑμνέω (Strong'S #5214 — Verb — humneo — hoom-neh'-o )

akin to A, is used (a) transitively,  Matthew 26:30;  Mark 14:26 , where the "hymn" was that part of the Hallel consisting of  Psalm 113-118; (b) intransitively, where the verb itself is rendered "to sing praises" or "praise,"  Acts 16:25;  Hebrews 2:12 . The Psalms are called, in general, "hymns," by Philo; Josephus calls them "songs and hymns."

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [5]

A song or ode in honour of the Divine Being. St. Hilary, bishop of Poictiers, is said to have been the first who composed hymns to be sung in churches, and was followed by St. Ambrose. Most of those in the Roman breviary were composed by Prudentius. The hymns or odes of the ancients generally consisted of three sorts of stanzas, one of which was sung by the band as they walked from east to west; another was performed as they returned from west to east; the third part was sung before the altar. The Jewish hymns were accompanied with trumpets, drums, and cymbals, to assist the voices of the Levites and the people. We have had a considerable number of hymns composed in our own country. The most esteemed are those of Watts, Doddridge, Newton, and Hart. As to selections, few are superior to Dr. Rippon's and Dr. William's.

See Psalmody

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

A religious canticle, song, or psalm,  Ephesians 5:19   Colossians 3:16 . Paul requires Christians to edify one another with "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Matthew says that Christ and his disciples, having supped, sung a hymn, and went out. They probably chanted a part of the psalms which the Jews used to sing after the Passover, which they called the Halal; that is, the Hallelujah psalms. These are  Psalm 113:1-118:29 , of which the first two are supposed to have been chanted before the Passover was eaten, and the others afterwards.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [7]

a song, or ode, composed in honour of God. The Jewish hymns were accompanied with trumpets, drums, and cymbals, to assist the voices of the Levites and people. The word is used as synonymous with canticle, song, or psalm, which the Hebrews scarcely distinguish, having no particular term for a hymn, as distinct from a psalm or canticle. St. Paul requires Christians to edify one another with "psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs." St. Matthew says, that Christ, having supped, sung a hymn, and went out. He recited the hymns or psalms which the Jews were used to sing after the passover; which they called the Halal; that is, the Hallelujah Psalms.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Ephesians 5:19  Colossians 3:16 Matthew 26:30  Mark 14:26 Acts 16:25  Hebrews 2:12 Psalm 113118-118

The noun hymn is used only with reference to the services of the Greeks, and was distinguished from the psalm. The Greek tunes required Greek hymns. Our information regarding the hymnology of the early Christians is very limited.

King James Dictionary [9]

HYMN, n. hym. L. hymnus Eng. hum.song or ode in honor of God, and among pagans, in honor of some deity. A hymn among christians is a short poem,composed for religious service, or a song of joy and praise to God. The word primarily expresses the tune,but it is used for the ode or poem.

And when the had sung a hymn, they went out to the mount of Olives.  Matthew 26

HYMN, hym. To praise in song to worship by singing hymns.

1. To sing to celebrate in song. They hymn their maker's praise.

HYMN, hym. To sing in praise or adoration.

Webster's Dictionary [10]

(1): ( n.) An ode or song of praise or adoration; especially, a religious ode, a sacred lyric; a song of praise or thankgiving intended to be used in religious service; as, the Homeric hymns; Watts' hymns.

(2): ( v. i.) To sing in praise or adoration.

(3): ( v. t.) To praise in song; to worship or extol by singing hymns; to sing.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [11]

Hymn. A Religious Song Or Psalm.  Ephesians 5:19;  Colossians 3:16. Our Lord and his apostles sung a hymn after the last supper. In the jail at Philippi, Paul and Silas "sang hymns" (Authorized Version, "praises") unto God, and so loud was their song that their fellow prisoners heard them.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [12]

It is somewhat remarkable, that the Hebrews have no peculiar or specific name for an hymn. A Canticle, or Song, or Psalm, they have words for. Perhaps those which are called Hal-lah might mean as much, for the Hallelu-Jah of David's psalms imply as much.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [13]

See Praise ; Singing .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

( ῞Υμνος ). This term; as used by the Greeks, primarily signified simply a song (comp. Homer, Od. 8, 429; Hesiod, Op. et Dies, 659; Pindar, 01. 1,170; 11, 74; Iisthm. 4, 74; Pyth. 10, 82; AEsch. Eum. 331; Soph. Antig. 809; Plato, Republ. 5, 459, E. etc.); we find instances even in which the cognate verb Ὑμνεῖν is used in a bad sense ( Φαύλως Ἐκλαμβάνεται , Eulstath. p. 634; comp. Soph. Elect. 382; (Ed. Tyr. 1275; Eurip. Med. 425); but usage ultimately appropriated the term to songs in praise of the gods. We know that among the Greeks, as among most of the nations of antiquity, the chanting of songs in praise of their gods was an approved part of their worship (Clem. Alex. Strom. 6, 633, ed. Sylburg., Porphyr. de Abstin. 4 sec. 8; Phurnutus, De Nat. Deor. c. 14; Alex. ab Alex. Genesis Dies, 4:c. 17, s.f..; Spanheim in not. ad Callimachum, p. 2; comp. Meiners, Geschichte aller Religionen, c. 13) and even at their festive entertainments such songs were sometimes sung (Athen. Deipnos. 14, 15, 14; Polyb. Hist, 4, 20, ed. Ernesti). Besides those hymns to different deities which have come down to us as the composition of Callimachus, Orpheus, Homer, Linus, Cleanthes, Sappho, and others, we may with confidence refer to the choral odes of the tragedians as affording specimens of these sacred songs, such of them, at least, as were of a lyric character (Snedorf, De Hymnis Vet. Graec. p.19). Such songs were properly called hymns. Hence Arrian says distinctly (De Exped. Alex. 4, 11, 2), Υ̓́μνοι Μὲν Ἐς Τοὺς Θεοὺς Ποιοῦνται , Ἔπαινοι Δὲ Ἐς Ἀνθρώπους . So also Phavorinus: Ὕμνος , Πρὸς Θεὸν ᾨδή Augustine (In Psalms 72) thus fully states the meaning of the term: "Hymni laudes sunt Dei cum cantico. Hymni cantus sunt, continentes laudes Dei. Si sit laus, et non sit Dei, non est hymnus. Si sit laus et Dei laus, et non cantatur, non est hymnus. Oportet ergo ut si sit hymnus, habeat haec tria, et Lauden et Dei et Canticum." See Chant

"Hymn," as such, is not used in the English version of the O.T., and the noun only occurs twice in the N.T. ( Ephesians 5:19;  Colossians 3:16), though in the original of the latter the derivative verb ( Ὑμνέω ) occurs in four places ("sing a hymn,"  Matthew 26:30;  Mark 14:26; "sing praises,"  Acts 16:25;  Hebrews 2:12). The Sept., however, employs it freely in translating the Hebrew names for almost every kind of poetical composition (Schleusn. Lex. Ὕμνος ). In fact, the word does not seem to have in the Sept. any very special meaning, and hence it calls the Heb. book of Tehillim the book of Psalms, not of Hymns; yet it frequently uses the noun Ὕμνος or the verb Ὑμνέω as an equivalent Of Psalm (e.g.  1 Chronicles 25:6;  2 Chronicles 7:6;  2 Chronicles 23:13;  2 Chronicles 29:30;  Nehemiah 12:24;  Psalms 40:1, and the titles of many other psalms). The word Psalm, however, generally had for the later Jews a definite meaning, while the word Hymn was more or less vague in its application, and capable of being used as occasion should arise. If a new poetical form or idea should be produced, the name of Hymn, not being embarrassed by a previous determination, was ready to associate itself with the fresh thought of another literature. This seems to have actually been the case. (See Song).

Among Christians the hymn has always been something different from the psalm; a different conception in thought, a different type in composition. (See Hymnology). The " Hymn" which our Lord sung with his disciples at the Last Supper is generally supposed to have been the latter part of the Hallel, or series of psalms which were sung by the Jews on the night of the Passover, comprehending Psalms 113-118; Psalms 113, 114 being sung before, and the rest after the Passover (Buxtorth Lex. Tam. s.v. הלל , quoted by Kuinol on  Matthew 26:30; Lightfoot's Heb. And Talm. Exercitations on  Mark 14:26; Works, 11, 435). (See Hallel).

But it is obvious that the word Hymn is in this case not applied to an individual psalm, but to a number of psalms chanted successively, and altogether forming a kind of devotional exercise, which is not inaptly called a hymn. The prayer in  Acts 4:24-30 is not a hymn, unless we allow non-metrical as well as metrical hymns. It may have been a hymn as it was originally uttered; but we can only judge by the Greek translation, and this is without meter, and therefore not properly a hymn. In the jail at Philippi, Paul and Silas "sang hymns" (A.V. "praises") unto God, and so loud was their song that their fellow-prisoners heard them. This must have been what we mean by singing, and not merely recitation. It was, in fact, a veritable singing of hymns. It is remarkable that the noun Hymn is only used in reference to the services of the Greeks, and in the same passages is clearly distinguished from the psalm ( Ephesians 5:19;  Colossians 3:16), "psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs." It has been conjectured that by "psalms and hymns" the poetical compositions of the Old Testament are chiefly to be understood, and that the epithet "spiritual," here applied to "songs," is intended to mark those devout effusions which resulted from the spiritual gifts granted to the primitive Church; yet in  1 Corinthians 14:26, a production of the latter class is called "a psalm." Josephus, it may be remarked, used the terms Ὕμνοι and ᾨδαί in reference to the Psalms of David (Ant. 7, 12, 3). (See Psalm).

It is probable that no Greek version of the Psalms, even supposing it to be accommodated to the Greek meters, would take root in the affections of the Gentile converts. It was not only a question of meter, it was a question of tune; and Greek tulles required Greek hymns. So it was in Syria. Richer in tunes than Greece, for Greece had but eight, while Syria had 275 (Benedict. Pref. vol. 5, Op. Eph. Syr.), the Syrian hymnographers reveled in the varied luxury of their native music; and the result was that splendid development of the Hymn, as molded by the genius of Bardesanes, Harmonins, and Ephraem Syrus. In Greece, the eight tunes which seem to have satisfied the exigencies of Church music were probably accommodated to fixed meters, each meter being wedded to a particular tune; an arrangement to which we can observe a tendency in the Directions about tunes and measures at the end of our English version of the Psalms. This is also the case in the German hymnology, where certain ancient tunes are recognized as models for the meters of later compositions, and their names are always prefixed to the hymns in common use. See Music.

It is worthwhile inquiring what profane models the Greek hymnographers chose to work after. In the old religion of Greece the word hymn had already acquired a sacred and liturgical meaning, which could not fail to suggest its application to the productions of the Christian muse. So much for the name. The special forms of the (Greek hymn were various. The Homeric and Orphic hymns were written in the epic style, and in hexameter verse. Their meter was not adapted for singing; and therefore, though they may have been recited, it is not likely that they were sung at the celebration of the mysteries. We turn to the Pindaric hymns; mid here we find a sufficient variety of meter, and a definite relation to music. These hymns were sung to the accompaniment of the lyre, and it is very likely that they engaged the attention of the early hymn-writers. The dithyramb, with its development into the dramatic chorus, was sufficiently- connected with musical traditions to make its form a fitting vehicle for Christian poetry; and there certainly is a dithyrambic savor about the earliest known Christian hymn, as it appears in Clem. Alex. p. 312, 313, ed. Potter.

The first impulse of Christian devotion was to run into the moulds ordinarily used by the worshippers of the old religion. This was more than an impulse it was a necessity, and a twofold necessity. The new spirit was strong; but it had two limitations: the difficulty of conceiving a new music-poetical literature; and the quality so peculiar to devotional music, of lingering in the heart after the head has been convinced and the belief changed. The old tunes would be a real necessity to the new life; and the exile from his ancient faith would delight to hear on the foreign soil of a new religion the familiar melodies of home. Dean Trench has indeed labored to show that the reverse was the case, and that the early Christian shrank with horror from the sweet but polluted enchantments of his unbelieving state. We can only assent to this in so far as we allow it to be the second phase in the history of hymns. When old traditions died away, and the Christian acquired not only a new belief, but a new social humanity, it was possible, and it was desirable too, to break forever the attenuated thread that bound him to the ancient world. Thus it was broken; and the trochaic and iambic meters, unassociated as they were with heathen worship, though largely associated with the heathen drama, obtained an ascendant in the Christian Church. In  1 Corinthians 14:26, illusion is made to Improvised hymns, which, being the outburst of a passionate emotion, would probably assume the dithyrambic form. But attempts have been made to detect fragments of ancient hymns conformed to more obvious meters in  Ephesians 5:14;  James 1:17;  Revelation 1:8 sq.;  Revelation 15:3. These pretended fragments, however, may with much greater likelihood be referred to the swing of a prose composition unconsciously culminating into meter. It was in the Latin Church that the trochaic and iambic meters became most deeply rooted, and acquired the greatest depth of tone and grace of finish. As an exponent of Christian feeling they soon superseded the accentual hexameters; they were used mnemonically against the heathen and the heretics by Commodianus and Augustine. The introduction of hymns into the Latin Church is commonly referred to Ambrose. But it is impossible to conceive that the West should have been so far behind the East: similar necessities must have produced similar results; and it is more likely that the tradition is due to the very marked prominence of Ambrose as the greatest of all the Latin hymnographers.

The trochaic and iambic meters, thus impressed into the service of the Church, have continued to hold their ground, and are, in fact, the 7's, S.M., CM and L.M. of our modern hymns, many of which are translations, or, at any rate, imitations of Latin originals. These meters were peculiarly adapted to the grave and somber spirit of Latin Christianity. Less ecstatic than the varied chorus of the Greek Church, they did not soar upon the pinion of a lofty praise so much as they drooped and sank into the depths of a great sorrow. They were subjective- rather than objection; they appealed to the heart more than to the understanding; and, if they contained less theology, they were fuller of a rich Christian humanity. (See Deyling, Obss. Sacrc. 3, 430; Hilliger, De Psal. Hymn. atque odar. sac. discrimine. Viteb. 1720; (Gerbert, De cantu et,musico, Bamb. et Frib. 1774, 2 vols. 4to; Rheinwald, Christl. Archa Ö l. p. 262.) Our information respecting the hymnology of the first Christians is extremely scanty: the most distinct notice we possess of it is that contained in Pliny's celebrated epistle (Ep. 10:97): "Carmen Christo quasi deo, dicere secum invicem." (See Augusti, Handbuch der Christlichen Arch Ä ologie, 2, 1- 160; Walchii, Miscellanea Sacra, i, 2; De hymnis ecclesie Apostolicae, Amstel. 1744; and other monographs cited in Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 133).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

him ( ὕμνος , húmnos ): In   Colossians 3:16;  Ephesians 5:19 Paul bids his readers sing "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Gregory of Nyssa (4th century) distinguishes these as follows: the Psalms were accompanied by instruments, the hymns were mainly vocal, and the song, ode, was a general term comprehending both. This distinction might suggest that the psalm belonged especially to the public worship of the church, while the hymn was the production, more or less spontaneous, of the individual member. The inference is, however, inconsistent with   1 Corinthians 14:26 , and it is probable that in the apostolic age, at least, the terms were used indiscriminately. Of Christian psalms or hymns we have examples in the New Testament. Lk 1 and 2 contain such hymns in the songs of Mary, Zacharias and Simeon. The Apocalypse is studded with hymns or odes, many of them quite general in character, and probably borrowed or adapted from Jewish books of praise. In the Epistles of Paul, especially the later ones, fragments of hymns seem to be quoted. Lightfoot detects one in  Ephesians 5:14 , and others readily suggest themselves.

It is probable that the hymn mentioned as having been sung by Jesus and the disciples after the Passover ( Matthew 26:30;  Mark 14:26 ) was the second part of the Hallel , i.e. Psalms 115 through 118, and the hymns of Paul and Silas were most likely also taken from the Psalter. But the practice of interpolating and altering Jewish non-canonical books, like the Psalter of Solomon and the recently discovered Odes of Solomon, shows that the early Christians adopted for devotional purposes the rich store of sacred poetry possessed by their nation. For the music to which these psalms, etc., were sung, see Music; Song .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

In the only places of the New Testament where this word occurs, it is connected with two others of very similar import. 'Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord' . It has been conjectured that by 'psalms and hymns' the poetical compositions of the Old Testament are chiefly to be understood, and that the epithet 'spiritual,' here applied to 'songs,' is intended to mark those devout effusions which resulted from the spiritual gifts granted to the primitive church; yet in a production of the latter class is called 'a psalm.' Josephus, it may be remarked, uses the terms 'hymns' and 'songs,' in reference to the Psalms of David (Antiq. vii. 12. 3). Our information respecting the hymnology of the first Christians is extremely scanty; the most distinct notice we possess of it is that contained in Pliny's celebrated Epistle (Ep. x. 97): 'They sing a hymn to Christ as God.'

The hymn which our Lord sung with his disciples at the Last Supper is generally supposed to have been the latter part of the Hallel, or series of psalms which were sung by the Jews on the night of the Passover, comprehending Psalms 113-118; Psalms 113, 114 being sung before, and the rest after the Passover.