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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

THE Arians, as we have said, held their meetings without the city. As often therefore as the festal days occurred, that is to say the sabbath and Lord’s-day of each week, on which assemblies are usually held in the churches, they congregated within the city gates about the public piazzas, 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 responsive compositions, 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 incessantly made 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. John’s aim indeed seemed to be good, but it issued in tumult and danger. For as the Homoousians performed their nocturnal hymns with greater display, John having invented 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 attack upon their rivals. This they were the more ready to do from the remembrance of their own recent domination, and the contempt with which they regarded their adversaries. Without delay therefore, on one of, these nights, they assailed the Homoousians; when Briso, one of the eunuchs of the empress, who was leading the chanters of these hymns, was wounded by a stone in the forehead, and some of the people on both sides were killed. The emperor incensed at this catastrophe, forbad the Arians to chant their hymns any more in public. We must however make some allusion to the origin of this custom in the church of singing responsive hymns. Ignatius third bishop of Antioch in Syria from the apostle Peter, who also had conversed familiarly with the apostles themselves, saw a vision of angels hymning in alternate chants the Holy Trinity: after which 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.








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