HYMNOLOGY. A hymn is the expres sion of praise to God, designed to increase the reverence and arouse the devotion of a wor shipper, and is often the vehicle of prayer. It is usually expressed in lyric verse, but not al ways. Some hymns are designed to be recited and not sung and are in prose. This is espe cially true of some Buddhist hymns.
From the beginning of history music and poetry have gone hand in hand. When men turned to worship they endowed it with music and poetry. They gave of their best. The early religions used songs of incantation ap proaching some of the Psalms of the Old Tes tament. The incantations from the Assyrian and Babylonian religions are of this character. The Egyptian religion also furnished some specimens. A hymn to the Nile used by its ancient worshippers seems almost like a Psalm. The Buddhist hymns are more like meditations. Ancient Greece was the land ofsong and all sorts of events were celebrated in poetic set ting. Many splendid productions have come to us from the devotees of many religions. The non-Christian world has not known much of congregational singing. That has been peculiar to the Jewish and Christian religions.
The Old Testament contains many hymns finding their culmination of excellence in the Book of Psalms, which has set a standard for all succeeding years. The songs of Moses, Miriam, Deborah and Hannah, and the lament of David over Jonathan should be The temple worship is said to have required great choruses, as many as 12,000 men singing antiphonally at a single service. The volume of sound was so great that it could be heard 12 miles away.
The New Testament furnishes several speci mens of early Christian hymns. The first and second chapters of the Gospel of Luke contain the Gloria us Excelsis, the Magnifscat, the Bene dictus, the lesser Benedictus and the Nunc Di mittis, early expanded and used in the worship of the church. Other remains of early Chris tian hymnody are found in Acts iv, 24-30; Ephesians v, 14; 1 Timothy vi, 15, 16; 2 Tim othy ii, 11-13; Revelation i, 4-8; v, 9, 10, 12-14; xi, 15, 17, 18; xv, 3, 4; xxi, 10-14: xxii, 17. There are traces of the very early use of these passages as hymns by the church.
The church of the post-Apostolic age was a singing church. Origen tells us of a Christian hymnbook, now lost, called The Psalterium.' Pliny's letter to Trajan proves the use of song in worship. The oldest Christian hymn known is one credited to Clement of Alexandria, and probably composed about the year 200. Henry M. Dexter has given a free paraphrase of it in his 'Shepherd of tender youth) widely used in many hymnals. Other paraphrases are also in use. The candle lighting hymn, preserved Basil, is probably of very early origin.
Julian notes 11 metrical translations of this hymn in addition to the .prose rendition of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
The Eastern or Greek Church had many hymn writers of note. Methodius, who died about 311, has a hymn in his (Banquet of Ten The Ter Sanctus was a hymn in use before the year 400. Gregory of Nazianzen
and Anatolius were noteworthy writers of hymns. With Saint Andrew of Crete began a series of noteworthy hymn writers. Modern hymnals use translations of several of his hymns. Saint John of Damascus, Saint Cos mas and the poets of the Studium are the most noteworthy writers in the 200 years ending about the year 800. Bardesanes, a Gnostic leader, has sometimes been called the father of hymn-writing. His hymns were so popular that Ephrem Syrus wrote new hymns to replace them and thus became the father of hymnody in the Syrian Church.
Saint Hilary of Gaul, Bishop of Poitiers, was the father of hymnody in the Latin Church. Pope Damasus I wrote two hymns. With Ambrose of Milan a new era begins in Latin hymnody. He composed several hymns used in later service books. In the period from the 4th to the llth century only a few names are worthy of note. Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, born in Spain in the last half of the 4th century, was a writer of many hymns. Ccelius Sedulius composed a hymn in acrostics and several others. Venantius Honorius Cle mentanus Fortunatus was one of the greatest of the Latin hymn writers (d. 609). The next group contained Peter Damiani, Boniventura. Bernard of Cluny, Bernard of Morlaix, Notker Thomas of Celano, Adam of Saint Victor, and other writers. This is sometimes called the Golden Age of Latin hymnody. The Anglo Saxon Church produced the Venerable Bede, its historian and also the father of English learn ing and English hymnody. Dr. Philip Schaff divides German hymn-writing into six periods: the period previous to the Reformation; the Reformation, 1520-1648; the Confessional Pe riod, 1618-80- the Pietistic and Moravian Pe riod, 1680-17g7; the Rationalistic Period, 1757 1817; the Modern Period, including the last 100 years. Martin Luther was the father of German hymnody and German church music. His hymns were sung all over Germany and his opponents declared that his hymns ude stroyed more souls than his sermons?' Justus Jonas Alber, Nicholas Hermann and Michael Weiss of the Reformation group also con tributed to the growth of the Lutheran move ment by their hymns. The first German Evangelical hymnbook appeared in 1524 and be cause it contained only eight hymns was entitled