“The Harp of the Holy Spirit”

Icon of Ephraim of SyriaHey, how come I’ve never heard of this guy before?

St. Ephraim the Syrian, or Ephraim of Edessa, was mentioned by Congar as an important Eastern theologian who was known as “the Harp of the Holy Spirit.” He lived in Edessa, an important city not far from Antioch, during the fourth century, and was in attendance at the Council of Nicaea. He wrote and preached but was especially well known for composing hymns that defended the orthodox faith of Nicaea, as a counter to the competing heretical sects. A contemporary reports that he rehearsed all-female choirs to sing his hymns.

He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1920. Over 400 of his hymns survive, and some are still used in the Orthodox church. Wikipedia says

Ephrem combines in his writing a threefold heritage: he draws on the models and methods of early Rabbinic Judaism, he engages skillfully with Greek science and philosophy, and he delights in the Mesopotamian/Persian tradition of mystery symbolism.

“Harp of the Holy Spirit” – what a wonderful title! Something to aspire to.

St. Ephraim, pray for us!

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4 Responses to “The Harp of the Holy Spirit”

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