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Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries   By:

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Carl F. Price Editor

IX Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries

by Ruth Ellis Messenger, Ph.D.



Carl F. Price, Editor

I. "The Hymns of John Bunyan." By Louis F. Benson, D.D. II. "The Religious Value of Hymns." By William P. Merrill, D.D. III. "The Praise of the Virgin in Early Latin Hymns." By Ruth Ellis Messenger, Ph.D. IV. "The Significance of the Old French Psalter." By Professor Waldo Selden Pratt, L.H.D., Mus.D. V. Hymn Festival Programs. VI. "What Is a Hymn?" By Carl F. Price, M.A. VII. "An Account of the Bay Psalm Book." By Henry Wilder Foote, D.D. VIII. "Lowell Mason: an Appreciation of His Life and Work." By Henry Lowell Mason. IX. "Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries." By Ruth Ellis Messenger, Ph.D. X. Addresses at the Twentieth Anniversary of the Hymn Society of America. XI. Hymns of Christian Patriotism. XII. "Luther and Congregational Song." By Luther D. Reed, D.D., A.E.D. XIII. "Isaac Watts and his Contribution to English Hymnody." By Norman Victor Hope, M.A., Ph.D. XIV. "Latin Hymns of the Middle Ages." By Ruth Ellis Messenger, Ph.D. XV. "Revival of Gregorian Chant, Its Influence on English Hymnody." By J. Vincent Higginson, Mus.B., M.A.

Copies of these papers at 25 cents each may be obtained from the Executive Secretary of the Hymn Society.

Note: Inquire before ordering as some numbers are temporarily out of print.

Dr. Reginald L. McAll, 2268 Sedgwick Avenue New York 53, N. Y.

Copyright, 1942, by Hymn Society of America Reprinted 1949

Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries

I. Introduction

There is no part of the general field of Christian hymnology so baffling to the student or so full of difficulties as the one under consideration in this paper. Many accounts of the subject are in existence but are far from conclusive. This is due, first of all, to the unexpected scarcity of original sources. When one views the rise of Christianity from its inception to the period of the Council of Nicaea, 325, its numerical growth from a handful of original adherents to millions of followers at the time of the Edict of Milan, 313, its literary development from early scattered records to the works of the great Greek and Latin fathers, one cannot help inquiring, "What has become of their hymns?"

Another puzzling aspect of the study is the complex historical background against which the progress of Christianity appears. The peace and constructive progress of the Augustan era, in which Christianity was founded, have often been cited as factors contributing to its evolution and spread. But this is not the whole story. The civilization of that day, especially in the eastern Mediterranean lands most concerned, was largely Hellenistic, of mingled Greek and oriental features which were necessarily wrought into the fabric of the new religion. An understanding of pre Augustan conditions, in which these diverse historical and literary trends were merged, is essential, for without it the subject is unintelligible.

A further problem which confronts the student is that of interpretation. It is well known that any general treatment of early Christianity is apt to conform to the point of view of the author... Continue reading book >>

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