The very word hymn comes from the Greek hymnos, which means a song of praise to a god or hero. Adapting this pagan practice for their own use, early Christians wrote many hymns that have become models for hymn writers over the centuries. The hymns of both early Greek and Latin Christians are represented in the most recent American hymnals by the inclusion of five to eighty selections. These hymns reflect the faith and thought of many of the most well-known early Christian leaders and theologians.
Augustine represents the preaching of the Latin church, a style that may be traced from Tertullian through Cyprian to Ambrose, Augustine’s spiritual father and mentor. The Latin style of preaching shows an acquaintance with classical literature, Latin rhetoric, and symbolism.
Ambrose (c. 340-397) was the Bishop of Milan. He was born in Gaul or modern-day France.
Aurelius Augustine (354-430) was one of the church’s great theologians. Augustine converted to Christianity at the age of 33 due largely to the influence of his devout mother, Monica.