Hymn
Overview
A hymn is a type of song
Song
In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.A song may be accompanied by musical instruments, or it may be unaccompanied, as in the case of a cappella songs...

, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, and typically addressed to a deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

  (hymnos), which means "a song of praise." Collections of hymns are known as hymnal
Hymnal
Hymnal or hymnary or hymnbook is a collection of hymns, i.e. religious songs, usually in the form of a book. The earliest hand-written hymnals are known since Middle Ages in the context of European Christianity...

s or hymnbooks.
Ancient hymns include the Egyptian Great Hymn to the Aten
Great Hymn to the Aten
The Great Hymn to the Aten is an ancient Egyptian hymn to the sun god Aten. It is attributed to Pharaoh Akhenaten, who attempted to convert Egypt to monotheism, with Aten being the only god. It was found, in its most complete form, in the tomb of Ay in the rock tombs at Amarna...

, composed by Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 Akhenaten
Akhenaten
Akhenaten also spelled Echnaton,Ikhnaton,and Khuenaten;meaning "living spirit of Aten") known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV , was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC...

; the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, a collection of hymns in the tradition of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

; and the Psalms
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

, a collection of songs from Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

.
Encyclopedia
A hymn is a type of song
Song
In music, a song is a composition for voice or voices, performed by singing.A song may be accompanied by musical instruments, or it may be unaccompanied, as in the case of a cappella songs...

, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, and typically addressed to a deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

  (hymnos), which means "a song of praise." Collections of hymns are known as hymnal
Hymnal
Hymnal or hymnary or hymnbook is a collection of hymns, i.e. religious songs, usually in the form of a book. The earliest hand-written hymnals are known since Middle Ages in the context of European Christianity...

s or hymnbooks.

Origins

Ancient hymns include the Egyptian Great Hymn to the Aten
Great Hymn to the Aten
The Great Hymn to the Aten is an ancient Egyptian hymn to the sun god Aten. It is attributed to Pharaoh Akhenaten, who attempted to convert Egypt to monotheism, with Aten being the only god. It was found, in its most complete form, in the tomb of Ay in the rock tombs at Amarna...

, composed by Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 Akhenaten
Akhenaten
Akhenaten also spelled Echnaton,Ikhnaton,and Khuenaten;meaning "living spirit of Aten") known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV , was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC...

; the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, a collection of hymns in the tradition of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

; and the Psalms
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

, a collection of songs from Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. The Western tradition of hymnody begins with the Homeric Hymns
Homeric Hymns
The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect...

, a collection of ancient Greek hymns, the oldest of which were written in the 7th century BC, praising deities of the ancient Greek religions. Surviving from the 3rd century BC is a collection of six literary hymns by the Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

n poet Callimachus
Callimachus
Callimachus was a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene, Libya. He was a noted poet, critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria and enjoyed the patronage of the Egyptian–Greek Pharaohs Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Ptolemy III Euergetes...

.

Patristic
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 writers began applying the term , or hymnus in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, to Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 songs of praise, and frequently used the word as a synonym for "psalm
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

".

Christian hymnody

Originally modeled on the Psalms
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

 and other poetic passages (commonly referred to as "canticle
Canticle
A canticle is a hymn taken from the Bible. The term is often expanded to include ancient non-biblical hymns such as the Te Deum and certain psalms used liturgically.-Roman Catholic Church:From the Old Testament, the Roman Breviary takes seven canticles for use at Lauds, as follows:*...

s") in the Scriptures, Christian hymns are generally directed as praise and worship to the monotheistic
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

. Many refer to Jesus Christ either directly or indirectly.

Since the earliest times, Christians have sung "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs", both in private devotions and in corporate worship .

One definition of a hymn is "...a lyric poem, reverently and devotionally conceived, which is designed to be sung and which expresses the worshipper's attitude toward God or God's purposes in human life. It should be simple and metrical in form, genuinely emotional, poetic and literary in style, spiritual in quality, and in its ideas so direct and so immediately apparent as to unify a congregation while singing it".

Christian hymns are often written with special or seasonal themes and these are used on holy days such as Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 and the Feast of All Saints
All Saints
All Saints' Day , often shortened to All Saints, is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by parts of Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity, in honour of all the saints, known and unknown...

, or during particular seasons such as Advent
Advent
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi...

 and Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

. Others are used to instill reverence to the Holy Bible or to celebrate Christian practices such as the eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 or baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

. Some hymns praise or address individual saints, particularly the Blessed Virgin Mary; such hymns are particularly prevalent in Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern Orthodoxy
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and to some extent "High Church" Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

.
A writer of hymns is known as a hymnist or hymnodist, and the practice of singing hymns is called hymnody; the same word is used for the collectivity of hymns belonging to a particular denomination or period (e.g. "nineteenth century Methodist hymnody" would mean the body of hymns written and/or used by Methodists in the 19th century). A collection of hymns is called a hymnal
Hymnal
Hymnal or hymnary or hymnbook is a collection of hymns, i.e. religious songs, usually in the form of a book. The earliest hand-written hymnals are known since Middle Ages in the context of European Christianity...

or hymnary. These may or may not include music. A student of hymnody is called a hymnologist, and the scholarly study of hymns, hymnists and hymnody is hymnology
Hymnology
Hymnology is the scholarly study of religious song, or the hymn, in its many aspects, with particular focus on choral and congregational song. It may be more or less clearly distinguished from hymnody, the creation and practice of such song...

. The music to which a hymn may be sung is a hymn tune
Hymn tune
A hymn tune is the melody of a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung. Musically speaking, a hymn is generally understood to have four-part harmony, a fast harmonic rhythm , and no refrain or chorus....

.

In many Evangelical churches, traditional songs are classified as hymns while more contemporary worship songs are not considered hymns. The reason for this distinction is unclear, but according to some it is due to the radical shift of style and devotional thinking that began with the Jesus movement
Jesus movement
The Jesus movement was a movement in Christianity beginning on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s and spreading primarily through North America and Europe, before dying out by the early 1980s. It was the major Christian element within the hippie counterculture,...

 and Jesus music
Jesus music
Jesus music, known as gospel beat music in the United Kingdom, is a style of Christian music which originated on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This musical genre developed in parallel to the Jesus movement...

.

Music and accompaniment

In ancient and medieval times, stringed instruments such as the harp
Harp
The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

, lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

 and lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

 were used with psalms and hymns.

Since there is a lack of musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

 in early writings, the actual musical forms in the early church can only be surmised. During the Middle Ages a rich hymnody developed in the form of Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services...

 or plainsong. This type was sung in unison, in one of eight church modes, and most often by monastic choirs. While they were written originally in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, many have been translated; a familiar example is the 4th century Of the Father's Heart Begotten
Of the Father's Heart Begotten
Of the Father's Heart Begotten alternately known as Of the Father's Love Begotten is a Christmas carol based on the latin poem Corde natus by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius, from his Liber Cathemerinon Of the Father's Heart Begotten alternately known as Of the Father's Love Begotten is a...

sung to the 11th century plainsong Divinum Mysterium.

Western church

Later hymnody in the Western church introduced four-part vocal harmony
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 as the norm, adopting major and minor keys, and came to be led by organ
Organ (music)
The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

 and choir. It shares many elements with classical music.

Today, except for choirs, more musically inclined congregations and a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

congregations, hymns are typically sung in unison. In some cases complementary full settings for organ are also published, in others organists and other accompanists are expected to transcribe the four-part vocal score for their instrument of choice.

To illustrate Protestant usage, in the traditional services and liturgies of the Methodist churches, which are based upon Anglican practice, hymns are sung (often accompanied by an organ) during the processional
Processional
Processional: A Jazz Symphony of American Life is a four-act modernist comedy by the American playwright John Howard Lawson. It was first produced by the Theatre Guild at the Garrick Theatre in New York, opening on January 12 1925 in a two-month run. Philip Moeller directed while Mordecai Gorelik...

 to the altar, during the receiving of the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

, during the recessional
Recessional
Recessional may refer to:*Recessional , a novel by James A. Michener, published in 1994*"Recessional" , a poem by Rudyard Kipling*"Recessional", a song by Vienna Teng...

, and sometimes at other points during the service. These hymns can be found in the United Methodist Hymnal
United Methodist Hymnal
The United Methodist Hymnal is the hymnal used by The United Methodist Church. It was first published in 1989 as the first hymnal for The United Methodist Church after the 1968 merger of The Methodist Church with The Evangelical United Brethren Church...

. The Doxology
Doxology
A doxology is a short hymn of praises to God in various Christian worship services, often added to the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns...

 is also sung after the tithes and offerings are brought up to the altar.

Contemporary Christian worship
Contemporary Christian worship
Contemporary Christian worship may refer to:* Contemporary worship music, a genre of contemporary Christian music* Contemporary worship, a form of Christian worship making use of the above* Present day practices in Christian worship generally...

, as often found in Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 and Pentecostalism
Pentecostalism
Pentecostalism is a diverse and complex movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, has an eschatological focus, and is an experiential religion. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek...

, may include the use of contemporary worship music played with electric guitar
Electric guitar
An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

s and the drum kit
Drum kit
A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

, sharing many elements with rock music
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

.

Other groups of Christians have historically excluded instrumental accompaniment, citing the absence of instruments in worship by the church in the first several centuries of its existence, and adhere to an unaccompanied a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

congregational singing of hymns. These groups include the 'Brethren' (often both 'Open' and 'Exclusive'), the Churches of Christ, Mennonites, Primitive Baptists, and certain Reformed churches, although during the last century or so, several of these, such as the Free Church of Scotland (Presbyterian)
Free Church of Scotland (1843-1900)
The Free Church of Scotland is a Scottish denomination which was formed in 1843 by a large withdrawal from the established Church of Scotland in a schism known as the "Disruption of 1843"...

 have reviewed and revised this stance.

Eastern church

Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 (the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches) have a very rich and ancient hymnographical tradition.

Eastern chant is almost always a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

, and instrumental accompaniment is rare. The central form of chant in the Eastern Orthodoxy is Byzantine Chant, which is used to chant all forms of liturgical worship. Exceptions include the Coptic Orthodox tradition which makes use of the sistrum
Sistrum
A sistrum is a musical instrument of the percussion family, chiefly associated with ancient Iraq and Egypt. It consists of a handle and a U-shaped metal frame, made of brass or bronze and between 76 and 30 cm in width...

, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the predominant Oriental Orthodox Christian church in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All...

, which also uses drum
Drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

s, cymbals and other instruments on certain occasions.

The development of Christian hymnody

Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

, in the introduction to his commentary on the Psalms, defined the Christian hymn thus: "Hymnus est laus Dei cum cantico; canticum autem exultatio mentis de aeternis habita, prorumpens in vocem." ("A hymn is the praise of God with song; a song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice.")

The Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 resulted in two conflicting attitudes to hymns. One approach, the regulative principle of worship
Regulative principle of worship
The regulative principle of worship is a teaching shared by some Calvinists and Anabaptists on how the Bible orders public worship. The substance of the doctrine regarding worship is that God institutes in the Scriptures everything he requires for worship in the Church and that everything else is...

, favoured by many Zwinglians, Calvinists and other radical reformers, considered anything that was not directly authorised by the Bible to be a novel and Catholic introduction to worship, which was to be rejected. All hymns that were not direct quotations from the Bible fell into this category. Such hymns were banned, along with any form of instrumental musical accompaniment, and organs were ripped out of churches. Instead of hymns, biblical psalms were chanted, most often without accompaniment, to very basic melodies. This was known as exclusive psalmody
Exclusive psalmody
Exclusive psalmody is the particular worship practice of several small Protestant denominations worldwide which use a metrical version of the Book of Psalms from the Bible as the only manual of songs that may be sung in their services...

. Examples of this may still be found in various places, including the "free churches" of western Scotland.

The other Reformation approach, the normative principle of worship
Normative principle of worship
The normative principle of worship is a Christian theological principle that teaches that worship in the Church can include those elements that are not prohibited by Scripture...

, produced a burst of hymn writing and congregational singing. Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 is notable not only as a reformer, but as the author of many hymns including Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
A Mighty Fortress is Our God
"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" is the best known of Martin Luther's hymns. Luther wrote the words and composed the melody sometime between 1527 and 1529. It has been translated into English at least seventy times and also into many other languages...

), which is sung today even by Catholics, and Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ
Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ
Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ is a Lutheran chorale of 1524, with words written by Martin Luther. For centuries the chorale has been the prominent hymn for Christmas Day in German speaking Lutheranism, but has also been used in different translations internationally...

(Praise be to You, Jesus Christ) for Christmas. Luther and his followers often used their hymns, or chorales, to teach tenets of the faith to worshipers. The first Protestant hymnal was published in Bohemia in 1532 by the Unitas Fratrum
Unitas Fratrum
This article is about the coordinating body of the Moravian Church worldwide. For the Christian denomination based in Texas see Unity of the Brethren....

. Count Zinzendorf, the Lutheran leader of the Moravian Church in the 18th century wrote some 2,000 hymns. The earlier English writers tended to paraphrase biblical texts, particularly Psalms; Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts was an English hymnwriter, theologian and logician. A prolific and popular hymnwriter, he was recognised as the "Father of English Hymnody", credited with some 750 hymns...

 followed this tradition, but is also credited as having written the first English hymn which was not a direct paraphrase of Scripture.
Watts (1674–1748), whose father was an Elder of a dissenter congregation, complained at age 16, that when allowed only psalms to sing, the faithful could not even sing about their Lord, Christ Jesus. His father invited him to see what he could do about it; the result was Watts' first hymn, "Behold the glories of the Lamb."
Found in few hymnals today, the hymn has eight stanzas in common meter and is based on Revelation 5:6, 8, 9, 10, 12.

Relying heavily on Scripture, Watts wrote metered texts based on New Testament passages that brought the Christian faith into the songs of the church. Isaac Watts has been called "the father of English hymnody," but Erik Routley sees him more as "the liberator of English hymnody," because his hymns, and hymns like them, moved worshipers beyond singing only Old Testament psalms, inspiring congregations and revitalizing worship.

Later writers took even more freedom, some even including allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 and metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

 in their texts.

Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley was an English leader of the Methodist movement, son of Anglican clergyman and poet Samuel Wesley, the younger brother of Anglican clergyman John Wesley and Anglican clergyman Samuel Wesley , and father of musician Samuel Wesley, and grandfather of musician Samuel Sebastian Wesley...

's hymns spread Methodist theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, not only within Methodism, but in most Protestant churches. He developed a new focus: expressing one's personal feelings in the relationship with God as well as the simple worship seen in older hymns. Wesley wrote:
Where shall my wondering soul begin?
How shall I all to heaven aspire?
A slave redeemed from death and sin,
A brand plucked from eternal fire,
How shall I equal triumphs raise,
Or sing my great deliverer's praise.

Wesley's contribution, along with the Second Great Awakening
Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening was a Christian revival movement during the early 19th century in the United States. The movement began around 1800, had begun to gain momentum by 1820, and was in decline by 1870. The Second Great Awakening expressed Arminian theology, by which every person could be...

 in America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 led to a new style called gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

, and a new explosion of sacred music writing with Fanny Crosby
Fanny Crosby
Frances Jane Crosby , usually known as Fanny Crosby in the United States and by her married name, Frances van Alstyne, in the United Kingdom, was an American Methodist rescue mission worker, poet, lyricist, and composer. During her lifetime, she was well-known throughout the United States...

, Lina Sandell
Lina Sandell
Lina Sandell was a Swedish writer of Gospel hymns.Born Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell in a rectory at Fröderyd, Småland, Sweden...

, Philip Bliss
Philip Bliss
Philip Paul Bliss was an American composer, conductor, bass-baritone writer of hymns and a Gospel singer. He wrote many well-known hymns, including Almost Persuaded, Hallelujah, What a Saviour!, Let the Lower Lights Be Burning, Wonderful Words of Life, and the tune for Horatio Spafford's It Is...

, Ira D. Sankey
Ira D. Sankey
Ira D. Sankey , known as The Sweet Singer of Methodism, was an American gospel singer and composer, associated with evangelist Dwight L...

, and others who produced testimonial music for revivals, camp meetings, and evangelistic crusades. The tune style or form is technically designated "gospel songs" as distinct from hymns. Gospel songs generally include a refrain (or chorus) and usually (though not always) a faster tempo than the hymns. As examples of the distinction, "Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace
"Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton , published in 1779. With a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins people commit and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God,...

" is a hymn (no refrain), but "How Great Thou Art
How Great Thou Art (hymn)
"How Great Thou Art" is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish poem written by Carl Gustav Boberg in Sweden in 1885. The melody is a Swedish folk song. It was translated into English by British missionary Stuart K. Hine, who also added two original verses of his own composition. It was popularized by...

" is a gospel song. During the 19th century the gospel-song genre spread rapidly in Protestantism and, to a lesser but still definite extent, in Roman Catholicism; the gospel-song genre is unknown in the worship per se by Eastern Orthodox churches, which rely exclusively on traditional chants (a type of hymn).

The Methodist Revival of the 18th century created an explosion of hymn writing in Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

, which continued into the first half of the 19th century. The most prominent names among Welsh hymn-writers are William Williams Pantycelyn
William Williams Pantycelyn
William Williams Pantycelyn , also known as Williams Pantycelyn and Pantycelyn, is generally acknowledged as Wales' most famous hymn writer. He was also one of the key leaders of the 18th century Welsh Methodist revival, along with Daniel Rowland and Howell Harris. As a poet and prose writer he is...

 and Ann Griffiths
Ann Griffiths
Ann Griffiths was a Welsh poet and writer of Methodist Christian hymns.-Biography:Ann was born in April 1776 near the village of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, six miles from the market town of Llanfyllin in Powys...

. The second half of the 19th century witnessed an explosion of hymn tune composition and choir singing in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

.

Along with the more classical sacred music of composers ranging from Mozart to Monteverdi, the Catholic Church continued to produce many popular hymns such as Lead, Kindly Light
Lead, Kindly Light
Lead, Kindly Light is a hymn with words written in 1833 by John Henry Newman as a poem titled "the Pillar of Cloud". In some hymnals, one may find a fourth verse added by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr...

, Silent Night
Silent Night
"Silent Night" is a popular Christmas carol. The original lyrics of the song "Stille Nacht" were written in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, by the priest Father Joseph Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber...

, O Sacrament Divine and Faith of our Fathers.

Many churches today use contemporary worship music which includes a range of styles often influenced by popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

. This often leads to some conflict between older and younger congregants (see contemporary worship
Contemporary worship
Contemporary worship is a form of Christian worship that emerged within Western evangelical Protestantism in the twentieth century. It was originally confined to the charismatic movement, but is now found to varying extents in a wide range of churches, including many that do not subscribe to a...

). This is not new; the Christian pop music
Contemporary Christian music
Contemporary Christian music is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith...

 style began in the late 1960s and became very popular during the 1970s, as young hymnists sought ways in which to make the music of their religion relevant for their generation.

This long tradition has resulted in a wide variety of hymns. Some modern churches include within hymnody the traditional hymn (usually describing God), contemporary worship music (often directed to God) and gospel music
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

 (expressions of one's personal experience of God). This distinction is not perfectly clear; and purists remove the second two types from the classification as hymns. It is a matter of debate, even sometimes within a single congregation, often between revivalist and traditionalist movements.

American developments

African-Americans developed a rich hymnody from spiritual
Spiritual (music)
Spirituals are religious songs which were created by enslaved African people in America.-Terminology and origin:...

s during times of slavery to the modern, lively black gospel style. The first influences of African American Culture into hymns came from Slave Songs of the United States a collection of slave hymns complied by William Francis Allen who had difficulty pinning them down from the oral tradition, and though he succeeded, he points out the awe inspiring effect of the hymns when sung in by their originators.

Thanks to Thomas Symmes a new idea of how to sing hymns spread throughout the churches in which anyone would sing a hymn any way they felt led to; this was opposed by the views of Symmes colleagues who felt it was "like Five Hundred different Tunes roared out at the same time." William Billings
William Billings
William Billings was an American choral composer, and is widely regarded as the father of American choral music...

, a singing school teacher, created the first tune book with only American born compositions. Within his books, Billings did not put as much emphasis on "common measure" which was the typical way hymns were sung, but he attempted "to have a Sufficiency in each measure". The Boston Handel and Haydn Society aimed at raising the level of church music in America, publishing their "Collection of Church Music". In the late 19th century Ira D. Sankey
Ira D. Sankey
Ira D. Sankey , known as The Sweet Singer of Methodism, was an American gospel singer and composer, associated with evangelist Dwight L...

 and Dwight L. Moody
Dwight L. Moody
Dwight Lyman Moody , also known as D.L. Moody, was an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts , the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers.-Early life:Dwight Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts to a large...

 developed the relatively new subcategory of gospel hymns.

Hymn metres

The metre indicates the number of syllables for the lines in each stanza
Stanza
In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse"...

 of a hymn. This provides a means of marrying the hymn's text with an appropriate hymn tune
Hymn tune
A hymn tune is the melody of a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung. Musically speaking, a hymn is generally understood to have four-part harmony, a fast harmonic rhythm , and no refrain or chorus....

 for singing. In practice many hymns conform to one of a relatively small number of metres (syllable count and stress patterns). Care must be taken, however, to ensure that not only the metre of words and tune match, but also the stresses on the words in each line. Technically speaking an iambic tune, for instance, cannot be used with words of, say, trochaic metre.

The metre is often denoted by a row of figures besides the name of the tune, such as "87.87.87", which would inform the reader that each verse has six lines, and that the first line has eight syllables, the second has seven, the third line eight, etc. The metre can also be described by initials; L.M. indicates long metre, which is 88.88 (four lines, each eight syllables long); S.M. is short metre (66.86); C.M. is common metre (86.86), while D.L.M., D.S.M. and D.C.M. (the "D" stands for double) are similar to their respective single metres except that they have eight lines in a verse instead of four.

See also

  • Carol
    Carol (music)
    A carol is a festive song, generally religious but not necessarily connected with church worship, and often with a dance-like or popular character....

  • Chorale
    Chorale
    A chorale was originally a hymn sung by a Christian congregation. In certain modern usage, this term may also include classical settings of such hymns and works of a similar character....

  • Contemporary worship music
  • Doxology
    Doxology
    A doxology is a short hymn of praises to God in various Christian worship services, often added to the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns...

  • Hymn Society in the United States and Canada
    Hymn Society in the United States and Canada
    The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, founded in 1922 as The Hymn Society of America and renamed in 1991, is a not-for-profit organization for those people who:* believe that congregational song is an integral component of worship...

  • Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland
    Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland
    The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland was founded in 1936 for the purpose of*encouraging study and research in the field of hymnody;*promoting good standards of hymn-singing;*encouraging the discerning use of hymns in worship;...

  • List of Chinese Hymn Books
  • List of Hymnals
  • List of Roman Catholic hymns
  • Metrical psalter
    Metrical psalter
    A metrical psalter is a kind of Bible translation: a book containing a metrical translation of all or part of the Book of Psalms in vernacular poetry, meant to be sung as hymns in a church. Some metrical psalters include melodies or even harmonizations...

  • Psalm
  • Sacred Harp
    Sacred Harp
    Sacred Harp singing is a tradition of sacred choral music that took root in the Southern region of the United States. It is part of the larger tradition of shape note music.- The music and its notation :...

  • Shape note
    Shape note
    Shape notes are a music notation designed to facilitate congregational and community singing. The notation, introduced in 1801, became a popular teaching device in American singing schools...

  • Vedic Chant
    Vedic chant
    The oral tradition of the Vedas consists of several pathas, "recitations" or ways of chanting the Vedic mantras. Such traditions of Vedic chant are often considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence, the fixation of the samhita texts as preserved dating to roughly the time of Homer...


External links

The links below are restricted to either material that is historical or resources that are non-denominational or inter-denominational. Denomination-specific resources are mentioned from the relevant denomination-specific articles. — 2000 pages of hymns in both staff and neumatic notation
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK