WEFOUNDHymns for the Christian Church: For the Use of the First Church of Christ in Boston (Classic Reprint)


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1-800-CHRISTIAN

1-800-247-4784

(Outside the United States
and Canada Call: 978-977-5000 )

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What did the practices of the earliest Christians look like to non-Christian observers? One of the earliest and best descriptions of early Christian behavior comes from Pliny, the governor of Bithynia and client of the Roman emperor Trajan. After hearing suspicious reports about the practices and meetings of Christians, he made an inquiry and found that they “were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god” ( Letter 10.96 ).

Pliny’s statement coheres well with early Christian texts that testify that it was common practice within the worship gathering of the assemblies to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord” ( Eph 5:19 ; see also 1Cor 14:26 , Acts 16:25 , Jas 5:13 ).

That the early Christians sang hymns is no surprise, for in addition to sharing a common meal and offering sacrifices, libations, and prayers to a deity, singing a hymn to honor and worship that particular god was common practice for ancient Mediterranean religious groups. To sing a hymn to a god or to a supremely powerful king or ruler was considered an act of worship, a way of bestowing respect and benefactions upon one whose powerful acts were worthy of divine honors.

1-800-CHRISTIAN

1-800-247-4784

(Outside the United States
and Canada Call: 978-977-5000 )


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