|Peter in the Catacombs (by Styka)|
(Other than a few snatches of song in the New Testament (like this and this), the Odes of Solomon is probably our oldest collection of ancient Christian music. These lyrics were written between A.D. 100 - 150, probably closer to 100.
A Roman bureaucrat named Pliny who met up with some Christians at about the same time tells us that, "they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god," (Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96-97, "To Emperor Hadrian"). What were Jesus' early followers singing as they furtively gathered in the pre-dawn Sunday hours to worship? Probably something a little like these two songs.)
The Lord is my hope, I shall not be ashamed of Him.
For according to His praise He made me, and according to His grace even so He gave to me.
And according to His mercies He exalted me, and according to His great honor He lifted me up.
And he caused me to ascend from the depths of Sheol, and from the mouth of death He drew me.
And I humbled my enemies, and He justified me by His grace.
For I believed in the Lord's Messiah, and considered that He is the Lord.
And He revealed to me His sign, and He led me by His light.
And He gave me the scepter of His power, that I might subdue the devices of the people, and humble the power of the mighty.
To make war by His Word, and to take victory by His power.
And the Lord overthrew my enemy by His Word, and he became like the dust
which a breeze carries off.
And I gave praise to the Most High, because He has magnified His servant
and the son of His maidservant.
Fill for yourselves water from the living fountain of the Lord, because it has been opened for you.
And come all you thirsty and take a drink, and rest beside the fountain of the Lord.
Because it is pleasing and sparkling, and perpetually refreshes the self.
For much sweeter is its water than honey, and the honeycomb of bees is not to be compared with it;
Because it flowed from the lips of the Lord, and it named from the heart of the Lord.
And it came boundless and invisible, and until it was set in the middle they knew it not.
Blessed are they who have drunk from it, and have refreshed themselves by it.