Pin It

Singing From The First Christian Hymnal

Are you looking for a different worship music option? Then you want to look at the Odes of Solomon? I just heard about this from my previous church back in Orlando.

From their FAQ sheet

1. What are the Odes of Solomon?
The Odes of Solomon is a collection of hymns from the earliest Christian community written sometime before 125 ca. They reflect the joyful thanksgiving and praise of the early Jewish-Christians . Originally they were composed in Syriac--a Semitic language closely related to the Aramaic spoken in the time of Jesus. They are the praises, not of the Western church, but of the Eastern church, a church still very close to the Semitic roots of Christianity.

2. What is the origin of the Odes?
The 42 Odes seem to originate from one person, and this individual most likely was a Jew who became a follower of Jesus Christ. That means that some odes may be originally Jewish and others Christian. Some experts on the Odes believe that the author, before he became a Christian, was an Essene or part of a similar Jewish sect. Discerning the date of the Odes has provoked considerable interest. Some scholars contend that they originate as late as the third century. Others place them in the later half of the second century. Most, however, date them at some time around the middle of the second century. A date long after 100 CE is unlikely.

3. Why were these hymns named, "The Odes of Solomon"?
"The Odes of Solomon" could also be called "The Psalms of Solomon." King Solomon is a pseudonym or "pen name" used by the author in place of his own name. The practice of writing under an assumed name was common during this period when the writers frequently made use of well-known names from the Old Testament. (Solomon, Enoch, Moses, etc.).

4. Why are the Odes attributed to Solomon?
Solomon was known to have written 1005 songs (1 Kgs 4.32). Since the writer of the Odes of Solomon was most likely a Jewish believer, he would have been very familiar with the Solomon hymns. Just as Solomon, the son of David, continued the doxological service of his father by writing the Song of Solomon, so the early Christians continued the doxological service of the Son of David, anointed by the Spirit, by writing and singing Christian psalms.

5. Why do you call these songs the "First Christian Hymnal"?
Quite simply because they are the only sizable collection of Christian hymns which has come down to us from the earliest centuries of the church.

6. Did the first Christians understand their hymns to be inspired holy scripture like the Psalms?
Probably not, which is the likely reason that nearly all early Christian hymns have disappeared. The New Testament never included a collection of Christian psalms to go with the Gospels and Epistles. The Odes of Solomon are not Scripture as Evangelical Christians understand holy writ. They are "inspired" in the sense that their writer loved God and wrote poetry that reflected insights, ideas and pictures that the Holy Spirit seems to have placed in his heart. They are neither scriptural nor apocryphal (belonging to a collection of disputed scriptures). They are simply ancient poems of worship and praise.

The most prominent feature of the Odes is an expression of joy in the presence of eternal life and love. Salvation is achieved by Christ, through the incarnation. The spirit of New Testament worship is found in these hymns with an amazing freshness and vitality. Jesus has set us free and our response is a song of joy. Even if their language comes from the ancient Orient, they seem to have a classic Evangelical quality about them. Recognizing their importance, the Billy Graham Association's Decision Magazine called the Odes of Solomon, "Masterpieces of Christian Devotion"

7. What is the relationship between the Odes of Solomon and the Gospels?
There is a very close relationship between the writings of the Odes' author and the Gospel of John. This connection has been noted by scholars since the Odes' rediscovery in 1909. Dr. Charlesworth states, "I have been persuaded that the Odist eventually lived within the Johannine community, which most likely included not only Samaritans but also Essenes who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. These are my own views which have taken shape since the mid-sixties...."

8. Are there other early church hymn documents not embedded in New Testament Scripture?
Certainly, but none were written as early as the Odes of Solomon. Not too long after the close of the New Testament period the Church began to create its own hymns and psalms as its preferred expression of Christian praise.

In the Eastern churches the writing of Christian hymns enjoyed some popularity, while in the West the Church sang psalms and canticles almost exclusively until the time of Ambrose of Milan (ca. 339-97) toward the end of the fourth century.

9. Why are the Odes of Solomon important today?
They provide a deeply moving portrayal of Christian worship in the 1st and early 2nd centuries , and an important window and template for the substance of Christian hymn writing today. The Odes allow us to experience the almost inebriated excitement of the Jews who felt such indescribable joy in their belief that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah: "For a great day has shined upon us, And wonderful is he who has given to us of his glory (Ode 41.3-4)."

10. What is "The Odes Project"?
The mission of "The Odes Project" is to adapt the Odes of Solomon for use in worship today, bringing the past to the present. It is hoped that by doing so, a greater understanding of the nature and function of Christian hymns will be understood by Christian artists who are learning the principles and practices of Christian worship.

Related Post:
Finding Good Hymns


Post a Comment