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Hymns of St. Ephrem the Syrian
by Mary Hansbury
St. Ephrem the Syrian who lived in the 4th century is a great visionary poet and spiritual teacher of the earliest Christian centuries. A lyrical delight in the beautiful things of creation, rich theological symbolism, striking and simple imagery and a sense of gratitude throughout are the hallmarks of his style.
He left a significant body of work including many hymns. This booklet provides a new translation of hymns that are also table blessings, recently attributed to St Ephrem. Table blessings are an essential aspect of Jewish spiritual tradition, and in Christianity this is mirrored in the central place given to the Eucharist. Thanksgiving, hospitality and communion with others and with God are major themes.
In the 4th century, it seems that shared meals were often celebrated in the Christian community, and these hymns were probably written for that use. They are rich with Eucharistic symbolism and may be used wherever people gather around a table today - in communities, parishes and homes.