Discovering the First Christian Songbook

In 1909, J.R. Harris discovered fragments of what are now known as “The Odes of Solomon.” Written between 80 AD and 125 AD in Ancient Syriac and Greek, these 42 Odes were penned at the dawn of Christianity, shedding new light on how the first Christians worshiped.
Learn more about the research behind the Odes Discovery.
Out of all the music and literature that have been uncovered from this early era in church history, the Odes have held up the most to Scriptural integrity. Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old, Professor of Theology and Worship at Erskine Theological Seminary, has devoted his whole life to studying the worship of the early church. He appreciates the Odes most of all because of their great similarities to the Psalms.

But who wrote the Odes?

This is still a mystery. Many scholars have speculated that the writer was a disciple of John, or at least a strong admirer of his letters to the early church. This is mostly due to the strong connection these songs have to themes found in John, such as light and life.
But as amazing as this discovery was, it wasn’t well known until a few years ago when Dr. Charles Fromm teamed up with composer John Schreiner to adapt the English translation of these early Christian songs into music. The Odes Project reflects on the music, themes, and time-period of when these songs of praise were originally used.
To put it into context, many of the Christians at this time would have been facing stark persecution by Roman authorities. At times, Christians were taken away and brutally killed in the public arena for their faith. Therefore, early Christ followers had to worship in secret. They would meet privately in houses or catacombs, praying they wouldn’t be caught.
Ode 5 offers a profound look into the mindset of these early believers:

I Shall Stand

I thank you O Lord because I love You
I praise you O Lord I will not fear
Freely did I receive Your grace
You won’t forsake me
For You are my hope, You are my hope

Oppressors will come, let them not see me
Let darkness like a cloud fall on their eyes
So they won’t take a hold upon me
Hallelujah for my salvation

Though all things visible should perish
And everything should be shaken
I shall stand, I shall stand, I shall stand for the Lord is with me
Though all things visible should perish
And even if everything should be shaken
I shall stand, I shall stand, I shall stand for the Lord is with me

He is a garland upon my head
And I shall never be moved
In Him is all my confidence
The Lord is with me and I am with Him

These words show us the powerful faith and courage early believers needed in order to worship Christ.
Today, we live in a culture where most people understand the concept of tolerance. Though religious persecution continues to happen everyday around the world, most of us will never know the same oppression that these early believers faced.
But even now, we can join them in worship. Let us sing the Odes together, as we worship our Messiah in spirit and in truth.
Corum Hughes works on the production team for HAVEN Today and is the managing editor of the All About Jesus blog. His passions include running, biking, reading, watching movies, and seeking Jesus in places He is seldom sought. Corum lives with his wife in California.

odes-cdThe Odes Project

This recently discovered collection of ancient hymns is known as the “The Odes,” and The Odes Project sets these hymns to music for the first time in 2000 years. Blending ancient and modern styles of music, this unique Christ-centered CD powerfully leads our hearts in worship.


  • This discovery is a great gift to our times. We can identify with those Christians who were second and third generation from the time of Jesus on earth.
    I want to meditate on the concepts in theses hymns and grow in depth and joy in the worship of the Lord.

  • Thomas Samuel says:

    This is great discovery. We will continue to praise God in the same spirit of the faithful christians in the bygone era.

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