Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Using any of the standard hymnals, what is the oldest hymn that people are still singing?

e.g.

  • The Baptist Hymnal 1975 / 1991 / 2008,
  • The Faith We Sing (Methodist, right?),
  • The (Episcopal) Hymnal 1982,
  • Adoremus (or anything else Catholics use)
  • or just about any standard denominationally based hymnal in current usage

Alternatively, I'll take anything on Hymnary.org, since my aim is just to find old hymns - I'm just trying to avoid someone pulling out a hymnal from the 1700s and pulling out some song nobody knows...

Let me strike out one answer real quick - yes, I know the Psalms is a Jewish hymnbook. The problem that I have with including the Psalms in the scope of this question is that we don't have the music :)

I suspect somebody can find obscure hymns that are old, but I'm looking for old hymns that are still sung widely. I suspect things like the Doxology, the Sanctus, or other parts of the Mass would be likely candidates, but I'd like to see the oldest we can come up with.

Please include the date of the text and the music, if you could

e.g. "All Creatures of Our God and King", words by Francis of Assisi (1200s), tune is Lasst Uns Erfreuen, 1623.

share|improve this question
1  
Lots of Catholics Parishes in the US use the Adoremus hymnal and the GIA hymnal. –  Peter Turner Mar 5 '12 at 20:35
    
Thanks Peter! I know I can always count ya! –  Affable Geek Mar 5 '12 at 20:44
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Probably the oldest text you'll find is the Phos Hilaron, sometimes known as "Hail gladdening light". The earliest music for it was a Byzantine Chant, and it's still largely sung in churches worldwide, though not so much in the West.

David Crowder released a version on his album "Church Music".

http://www.hymnary.org/text/hail_gladdening_light_of_his_pure_glory_?tab=about

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phos_Hilaron#Modern_usage

AFAIK, that's the oldest Christian hymn known today.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I was going to say Adeste Fideles "Oh Come all Ye Faithful" as it was anachronistically placed in my kids' cartoon about St. Nicholas of Myra. It's old, but, Te Deum (4th century) was attributed to St. Ambrose and is sung by lots of Catholic religious to this day while praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

I'd say, David's answer is probably the right one for all of Christendom, but Te Deum would be one of the oldest hymns in the Latin Rite.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Be Thou My Vision - is a hymn an ancient Irish hymn translated in English, thank God, and one of my favorite. I named my daughter - Jeriel, meaning, "The Vision of the Lord," in ancient Hebrew.

share|improve this answer
2  
I love that hymn (it's one of my favorites), but do you realise this question is asking for the oldest known hymn, not just old ones? Your suggestion is a thousand years newer than the other answers here. –  Caleb Jan 26 at 0:26
    
Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? –  David Stratton Jan 26 at 16:17
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.