Liturgical Hymns

A liturgical hymn is a song of praise to God or his saints, which is used as a fixed part of Church's formal, public worship. Many of these hymns go back to ancient times. (The Psalms and the texts of the Octoechos are also used in the liturgy, but they are covered separately.) There are also non-liturgical hymns which are used before and after the liturgy, and on other occasions as well.

The liturgical hymns are organized below by the service at which the occur. Each article covers the origin, text and plainchant melodies for an individual hymn, as found in the Byzantine Catholic Church.

Vespers
  • Blessed is the man
  • Evening Hymn
  • Hymn of Glorification
  • Canticle of Simeon
Compline
Matins
Divine Liturgy
  • Hymn to the Only-Begotten Son
  • Trisagion
  • Cherubic Hymn
  • The Lord's Prayer
  • The Communion Hymn

History

The pagan Greeks used the word hymnos to mean "a song in praise of gods, heroes or famous men." Christians adopted the word to mean "a song of praise to God".   

The earliest Christian hymns consisted of Scriptural passages or prayers set to music. Due to their origin, these were not metrical hymns; that is, they did not have a regular rhythm or verse structure. Many of these hymns eventually made their way into the liturgy. Later, poets and hymnographers made their own additions, often using the musical forms common in their own cultures.

For a general history, see the Catholic Encyclopedia articles Hymn and Hymnody.