Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Oxyrhynchus Hymn




This page offers the original (reconstructed) Greek text:

The original language of this hymn is Greek. The brackets denote reconstructed areas of the text.

Spoken: [Σε Πάτερ κόσμων, Πάτερ αἰώνων, μέλπωμεν] ὁμοῦ, πᾶσαι τε Θεοῦ λόγιμοι δο[ῦλο]ι. Ὅσα κ[όσμος ἔχει πρὸς ἐπουρανίων ἁγίων σελάων.]
Sung: [Πρ]υτανήω σιγάτω, μηδ' ἄστρα φαεσφόρα λ[αμπέ]
Spoken: σθων, [ἀπ]ολει[όντων] ῥ[ιπαὶ πνοιῶν, πηγαὶ]
Sung: ποταμῶν ῥοθίων πᾶσαι. Υμνούντων δ' ἡμῶν [Π]ατέρα χ' Υἱὸν χ' Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, πᾶσαι δυνάμεις ἐπιφωνούντων· Ἀμήν, Ἀμήν. Κράτος, αἶνος [ἀεὶ καὶ δόξα Θεοὶ δωτῆρι μόνῳ πάντων] ἀγαθῶν· Ἀμήν, Ἀμήν."
 
A literal translation from Greek to English would read:

.. Let it be silent
Let the Luminous stars not shine,
Let the winds (?) and all the noisy rivers die down;
And as we hymn the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Let all the powers add "Amen Amen"
Empire, praise always, and glory to God,
The sole giver of good things, Amen Amen

This is another translation from the same page:
Let the world be silent Let not the stars shine their lights
Calm the winds, silence the rivers
Let all praise the Father, the Son and the Holy spirit
Let all sing together Amen, Amen.
Let kings bow, and God receive the glory!
The sole giver of good things, Amen Amen.

From the same link, this is a transcription of the hymn:



Wikipedia says this:
The Oxyrhynchus hymn (or P. Oxy. XV 1786) is the earliest known manuscript of a Christian hymn to contain both lyrics and musical notation. It is found on Papyrus 1786 of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, now kept at the Papyrology Rooms of the Sackler Library, Oxford. This papyrus fragment was unearthed in 1918 and the discovery was first published in 1922.[1] The hymn was written down around the end of the 3rd century AD.

The text, in Greek, poetically invokes silence so that the Holy Trinity may be praised.

The music is written in Greek vocal notation.[3] It is entirely diatonic, with an ambitus of exactly an octave from F to F an octave above, and a final nominally on G (assuming a key signature without sharps or flats). The notation is Hypolydian, and employs the rhythmic symbols macron (diseme), leimma + macron, stigme, hyphen, and colon.[4] The text is largely set syllabically, with a few short melismas. The hymn's meter is essentially anapaestic, though there are some irregularities.[5]

It is often considered[who?] the only fragment of Christian music from ancient Greece, although Kenneth Levy[6] has persuasively argued that the Sanctus melody best preserved in the Western medieval Requiem mass dates from the 4th century.[3] It is similar to the hymn in its largely syllabic texture and diatonic melody, with slight differences.[vague]

Modern recordings of the hymn have been included on a number of releases of Ancient Greek music.


And gives this translation:
.. Let it be silent
Let the Luminous stars not shine,
Let the winds (?) and all the noisy rivers die down;
And as we hymn the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Let all the powers add "Amen Amen"
Empire, praise always, and glory to God,
The sole giver of good things, Amen Amen.

Here's another version:



And another:



The last version above has this note:
In 1918, in an ancient city of Egypt, called Oxyrhynchus, a papyrus fragment was discovered, which later turned out to be invaluable, for on the back of it was written a music piece with Greek letter notation, which is the hymn to the Holy Trinity, thus known to be Oxyrhynchus Hymn, the oldest extant church music we now have. Today's version is possibly the first arrangement of that hymn ever written so far. It was written for the performance of LKWC at St. James Catholic Church in Elizabeth Town on the occasion of the Trinity Week, and subsequently premiered there on June 6, 2010. This video is a recording of the 10th Annual Recital of LKWC at the SBTS on Nov. 13. 2010. (Flute: Sylvia Kim / note is published by New Praise Support Edition)

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