Friday, November 27, 2009

The Earliest Christian Hymnbook & The Odes Project

I've just ordered this book for the store and I can't wait to see it. It's called The Earliest Christian Hymnbook translated by James H. Charlesworth. As the title suggests this is a collection of some of the earliest Christian hymns (c. A. D. 100). Many of these hymns have been set to contemporary music and can be found on the website known as The Odes Project. On the website you can learn more about these fascinating hymns and listen to a sample of the songs which are available for purchase on two CDs (click on the "store" tab and then "listen and buy"). The following is taken from the website:

"The Odes of Solomon are hymns of praise and devotion that we inherit from an early poet. The author, the Odist, was a Jew, conceivably an Essene because he intermittently evidences that he knew the Thanksgiving Hymns (the so-called hymnbook of the Qumran Community). The Odist eventually believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and imagined: "The dove fluttered over the head of our Lord Messiah, /Because he was her head" (Ode 24:1).

The collection is identified as the Odes of Solomon, not because they were written by King Solomon in the tenth century B.C., but because they were rightly considered to be in the tradition of Solomon, who was known in the Bible as "the Beloved." The Odist uses this term for himself and all like him; it is a concept that helps define the Odes. While Solomon lived in the tenth century B.C., the Odist lived sometime near A.D. 100. He composed the Odes in a form of early Aramaic and Syriac which is a language spoken in the early Christian centuries and was a form of the language spoken by Jesus."

"In the centuries that followed its composition, the Odes were repeatedly lost and found again. As late as 1909, they languished in obscurity until being rediscovered in the dusty study of a Quaker theologian. Since that time they have been the object of intense interest and scrutiny among scholars and eventually recognized for what they were -- masterworks of Christian devotion. But not until The Odes Project has this transcendent poetry of praise been adorned with musical settings that both honors and updates its ancient heritage."

You can also find the words of all the Odes (both the original and those adapted for contemporary singing). Here are the original words to Ode 15:

1. As the sun is the joy of them who seek its daybreak, so is my joy the Lord;
2. Because He is my Sun, and His rays have lifted me up; and His light has dismissed
all darkness from my face.
3. Eyes I have obtained in Him, and have seen His holy day.
4. Ears I have acquired, and have heard His truth.
5. The thought of knowledge I have acquired, and have enjoyed delight fully through
Him.
6. I repudiated the way of error, and went towards Him and received salvation from
Him abundantly.
7. And according to His generosity He gave to me, and according to His excellent
beauty He made me.
8. I put on immortality through His name, and took off corruption by His grace.
9. Death has been destroyed before my face, and Sheol has been vanquished by my
word.
10. And eternal life has arisen in the Lord's land, and it has been declared to His
faithful ones, and has been given without limit to all that trust in Him.
Hallelujah

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I saw this at ETS but haven't picked up a copy yet. It looks very interesting.