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The Students' Series of Latin Classics
SELECTED AND ANNOTATED
WILLIAM A. MERRILL
PROFESSOR OF LATIN, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
οὐ πόλλ ̓ ἀλλὰ πολύ
BENJ. H. SANBORN & CO.
LATIN hymns appeal to students on many grounds. Some appreciate the poetry, some the religious character, and a few the theological learning; while to others the changes in the language and the development in metrical treatment and versification prove attractive. Others, still, are interested in medieval thought and in literary history. Many of these hymns have exercised such wide influence that an acquaintance with them would seem to be desirable for broad literary culture, if for no other reason.
The best results have been gained by encouraging students to sing the hymns in the original and to hunt up English metrical versions and musical settings. Literal translation and close philological treatment should not be encouraged.
In the preparation of the Introduction and Notes the editor would acknowledge his great indebtedness to Julian's "Dictionary of Hymnology."
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA,
W. A. M.
A HYMN, according to ancient canons, must consist of praise to God or his saints, must be metrical, and must be capable of being sung. The word is of Greek origin, and there are references to hymns in both the Old (e.g. Isaiah xlii 10) and in the New (e.g. Act. Apost. v 25) Testaments; it is probable that from the beginning of the Christian church they were used in public worship, for Pliny in his famous letter to Trajan (Ep. 97) and Tertullian (Apol. 2) imply their use. There was early a minor order of the clergy, called Psaltae or Cantores, whose duty it was to lead the singing which was often antiphonal. What was the exact distinction between psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Coloss. iii 16) is not known; it is, however, remarkable that in the Greek church, even at the present day, there are no metrical hymns, all of them being rhythmic and accentual.
Christianity is an Oriental religion, and came to the West through Greek influence; it is, therefore, natural that Greek precedent should preponderate in ritual as well as in theology; and undoubtedly the use of hymns was due to Greek authority. One of the earliest was the Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις the Gloria in Excelsis; and the Te Deum Laudamus has a Greek kernel. The various hymns of the church service, those consisting of verbal quotations from the Bible as well as the Gloria Patri, the Tersanctus, and the like, were of Greek, when not of Hebrew, origin; and, indeed, they were long sung in Greek even in Latin countries. Latin hymnody begins with Hilary |