Pliny the Younger, a Roman governor in AD 111-112, referred to the gatherings of the early followers of Jesus in this way: “They were in the habit of meeting before dawn on a stated day and singing alternately a hymn to Christ as to a god.” Some of these first hymns—or fragments of them—appear to have survived as quotations in the Bible. Such passages are carefully structured, exhibiting rhythmical patterns, and using vocabulary different from the surrounding verses. But these hymns are much more than historical artifacts: they are windows into the worship of some of the very first followers of Jesus.

Sometimes, when contemplating the mercy of God, the humility of Christ, or the power of love to defeat evil, words are not enough: Our hearts break forth into song. During this three-week series, beginning May 13, we will use these ancient songs to offer our worship to God. Through meditation and song, we will celebrate and experience our oneness with God and with one another; surrender our whole selves to our loving creator; and recommit ourselves to living as agents of God’s love, peace and hope in our beautiful but marred world.

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