Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: The Arians and the Supporters of the 'Homoousion' hold Nocturnal Assemblies and sing Antiphonal Hymns, a Species of Composition ascribed to Ignatius, surnamed Theophorus. Conflict between the Two Parties.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter VIII.—The Arians and the Supporters of the Homoousion hold Nocturnal Assemblies and sing Antiphonal Hymns, a Species of Composition ascribed to Ignatius, surnamed Theophorus. 855 Conflict between the Two Parties.
The Arians, as we have said, held their meetings without the city. As often therefore as the festal days occurred—I mean Saturday 856 and Lords day—in each week, on which assemblies are usually held in the churches, they congregated within the city gates about the public squares, and sang responsive verses adapted to the Arian heresy. This they did during the greater part of the night: and again in the morning, chanting the same songs which they called responsive, they paraded through the midst of the city, and so passed out of the gates to go to their places of assembly. But since they did not desist from making use of insulting expressions in relation to the Homoousians, often singing such words as these: Where are they that say three things are but one power?—John fearing lest any of the more simple should be drawn away from the church by such kind of hymns, opposed to them some of his own people, that they also employing themselves in chanting nocturnal hymns, might obscure the effort of the Arians, and confirm his own party in the profession of their faith. Johns design indeed seemed to be good, but it issued in tumult and dangers. For as the Homoousians performed their nocturnal hymns with greater display,—for there were invented by John silver crosses for them on which lighted wax-tapers were carried, provided at the expense of the empress Eudoxia,—the Arians who were very numerous, and fired with envy, resolved to revenge themselves by a desperate and riotous attack upon their rivals. For from the remembrance of their own recent domination, they were full of confidence in their ability to overcome, and of contempt for their adversaries. Without delay therefore, on one of these nights, they engaged in a conflict; and Briso, one of the eunuchs of the empress, who was at that time leading the chanters of these hymns, was wounded by a stone in the forehead, and also some of the people on both sides were killed. Whereupon the emperor being angered, forbade the Arians to chant their hymns any more in public. Such were the events of this occasion.
We must now however make some allusion to the origin of this custom in the church of responsive singing. Ignatius 857 third bishop of Antioch in Syria from the apostle Peter, who also had held intercourse with the apostles themselves, saw a vision of angels hymning in alternate chants the Holy Trinity. Accordingly he introduced the mode of singing he had observed in the vision into the Antiochian church; whence it was transmitted by tradition to all the other churches. Such is the account [we have received] in relation to these responsive hymns.
Θεόφορος = borne by God, used in the sense of being possessed by a god, inspired, by Æsch. Agam. 1150; but here borne in the arms of God or carried by God, and applied to Ignatius because tradition made him the very child whom the Saviour took up in his arms, and set in the midst of his disciples. Cf. Mark ix. 36; to be distinguished therefore from Θεοφόρος, bearing or carrying a god.144:856
The ancient Christians observed the Lords day as the greatest day of the week, and also in the second place the Jewish Sabbath or Saturday. See Bingham, Christ. Antiq. XX. 2, on the Lords day, and 3, on the Sabbath.144:857
There has been some difference of opinion as to whether Socrates is correct in here ascribing the institution of responsive chants to Ignatius. Valesius doubts Socrates accuracy, but other authorities are inclined to the view that Ignatius did introduce these chants, and Flavian and Diodorus, during the reign of Constantine, to whom Valesius ascribes their origin, simply developed them. Cf. Bingham, Christ. Antiq. XIV. 1.
Next: Dispute between Theophilus and Peter leading to an Attempt on the Part of the Former to depose John Bishop of Constantinople.
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