The Leiden Hymns


Ancient Egyptian Poetry


The Leiden Hymns evoke images of the sun god as one preeminent god, master of all creation, and the father of all other gods. This group of poems was found written on papyrus and can be dated from the reign of Ramses II (1238 B.C.) who was one of the greatest pharaohs of this era. It was probably composed by a poet-priest who uses metaphor extensively to evoke the image of the all creative being, Amun. As a poem of evocation, it has echoes that may be heard in the language of the Old and New Testaments. The poet uses human experience to express the inexpressible in his praise of Amun.


In the readings the writer conveys the meaning that these fixed objects, such as the sun, moon, and stars are all powerful. In the Egyptian style poetry we see how celestial bodies, such as the horizon, the stars, and of course the sun, and moon are full of great might. I can understand how people could and still do worship these objects of powerful, because they give and offer so much. The light for nighttime, the heat for day, and the sun’s rays nurture plants to name a few. The Leiden Hymns are similar to the Old and New Testaments. The Old and New Testament of the Christian works make us aware that there is a supreme being, God Almighty, and his awesome power, and authority are to be feared. In contrast both forms of poetry help us to understand the language of worship and praise of these supreme beings. I sense a notion of perfection in both poetry styles. Christianity, as we studied, puts emphasis on the idea of perfection. The Leiden Hymns states: He cared, and the sacred form took shape and contour, splendid at birth! God, skilled in the intricate ways of the craftsman, first fashioned Himself to perfection.”


In each of these readings, the sun, the earth, the water and the livestock are all forces of human life that are at the mercy of God. The Leiden Hymns and the Old Testament both give gratifying praise to the sun. Often prayers are ended in gratitude to the sun and the Holy Spirit. By knowing that the sun is a symbol of praise, the readings are better understood. The sun is seen as an ultimate power in the universe:


How splendid you ferry the skyways,


Horus of Twin Horizons,


The needs of each new day


Firm in your timeless pattern,


Who fashion the years,


Weave months into order—


Days, nights, and the very hours


Move to the gait of your striding.


I see the Leiden hymns and the psalms and other Genesis readings to be a celebration of nature and everything that helps people to survive from day-to-day. These writings celebrate their gods who were the creators of these phenomenon and daily miracles. I would certainly celebrate the sun if it was as enigmatic to me as it was to them. To them it warmed the earth in its daily trek across the sky, and caused the plants that they were cultivating to grow. These hymns are a celebration of life.


In The Leiden Hymns the author poetically tells how the sun ferries the skyways; while in the Psalms, we hear the author worship God for the wonderment of how God “coverest thyself with light as with a garment; who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.” The author in the same chapter ends with Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord. In the same light, The Leiden Hymn ends with " You deigh to walk daily with men. The faces of all are upturned to you, As mankind and gods alike lift their morningsong: "Lord of the daybreak, Welcome!" Both authors are in awe and wonder of the sun.


The Leiden Hymns resembles the Old Testament through style, language, and concepts. The Hymns and the Testaments refer to one god that is extremely powerful and the ruler of the universe. I think the Old Testament\'s Creation helps you to understand the Leiden Hymn "How Splendid you Ferry the Skyways". The hymn represents the sun god creating day and night, whereas God created day and night in