Hymn from the Christmas liturgy

BKT VI 6.2 (P. 13269 R)


„In Bethlehem (there were) shepherds out on the fields, an angel of God announced to them the birth of Emmanuel. And the glory of God shone around them and (the angel) said: Don’t be afraid. The incorporeal being proclaimed to them a great joy for the entire folk, that Christ, the King and God, the Saviour, has been born in the town of David today, and we (sing) along with the angels: Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth …” (Papyrus breaks here).

The hymn on the papyrus is a paraphrase of the Gospel according to Luke’s 2, 8–14, which was sung probably during the Christmas liturgy. The heading indicated how this hymn should be performed melodically. The handwriting is fine, clear and slopes slightly to the right. Nomina sacra like the name of Christ or the word “God” are abbreviated, a common feature for Christian texts. The hymn shows furthermore several textual corruptions and grammatical mistakes. The papyrus sheet preserves on the back a text written in Arabic. It is dated to the 7th or 8th centuries CE – and so to the early years of cohabitation of Christians and Muslims in Egypt.

This Hymn from the Christmas liturgy was on display in the special exhibition „Soundscapes – Music in Ancient Egypt“.

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