Monday, June 9, 2014

Ephrem of Edessa

Ephrem of Edessa (306-10 June 379) Was born in Nissibus during  a time of persecution.  Ephrem was baptised as a youth, and made teacher soon after.  He was ordained a deacon at a relatively young age.  It is said he founded the school of Nissibus which became the center of learning for the Assyrian Church of the East. 

Upon the death of Constantine, Nissibus was attacked by the Persians, but not conquered.  One of Ephrem’s early hymns reflects this event.  Eventually events lead to Nisibus being conquered, but the Christians were allowed to leave.  Ephrem found himself with refugees who ended up in Edessa, where he settled to serve the church.

Edessa was full of heresies, and Ephrem composed at least 400 hymns set to folk melodies in Syriac to oppose these heresies.  The hymns were sung by an all woman’s choir.  In addition to his hymns, he wrote poetic sermons, and prose work based on the scriptures.  IN addition he encouraged reading the scriptures for faith, as opposed to critical analysis.

His works inspired many and he was mourned after his death.  He inspires us with a non-european form of Christianity.  He also inspires us to use good (secular) music to promote Christian ideas.

Oh Lord, as you gave your deacon, Ephrem the ability to compose hymns to build up the church in faith and  knowledge of you, raise up in this and every generation those who teach the true faith by song and charitable works, that we may every glorify your holy name.  This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

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