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Hymns of Saint Ephrem the Syrian
Author: St Ephrem the Syrian
Translator: Mary Hansbury
Saint Ephrem (or Ephraim) the Syrian (306-73) was born into a Christian family in Nisibis, Mesopotamia. He became a teacher and a deacon, and wrote many hymns and poems on the Christian faith to counteract heresies prevalent at the time, using the power of music to convey his message. In 363, Christians were forced to leave Nisibis, following repeated sieges by the King of Persia. Ephrem fled and settled in the east, on Mount Edessa, as a solitary ascetic. Edessa came under attack from the Arian Emperor Valens who, faced with the courage of Edessans fortified by Ephrem’s hymns, had to abandon the attack.
Mary Hansbury is a student and teacher of early Syriac literature and is also a trained iconographer. Her publications include translations of St Isaac of Nineveh and the Letters of John of Dalyatha.
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St Ephrem the Syrian (306-376), a visionary poet and spiritual teacher of the early Christian centuries, is known chiefly as the author of numerous hymns. These examples of his ‘Table Blessings’, recalling the events of salvation history, combine lyrical delight in the good and beautiful things of creation with an outpouring of praise and thanksgiving to their Creator.