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    Hymns as Acclamations: The Case of Ambrose of Milan

    Williams, Michael Stuart (2013) Hymns as Acclamations: The Case of Ambrose of Milan. Journal of Late Antiquity, 6 (1). pp. 108-134. ISSN 1939-6716

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    The hymns of Ambrose of Milan may usefully be seen in the context of other forms of rhythmic chant and song found in the social world of the Roman Empire: above all, they may be connected with popular songs and with acclamations, whether theatrical, political, or religious. Ambrose’s hymns in particular share with songs and acclamations a number of formal features, being regular in form and based on accentual stress patterns rather than quantitative meter, and being similarly intended for popular and untrained participation. The most important parallel, however, lies in what may be called their function or effect: for just as did songs and acclamations, Ambrose’s hymns demonstrated and articulated the unity of a diverse population by allowing the constituents to express themselves in a single voice. What the hymns may have lacked in spontaneity — being complex and pre-composed — they gained in direction and discipline, so that Ambrose was able to exploit the unity and harmony of his congregation in support of his own political and religious aims. Ambrose’s hymns thus reconfigured songs and acclamations as a means of establishing and promoting a Milanese Christian identity and of affirming his own popular authority and legitimacy.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Copyright © 2013 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in the Journal of Late Antiquity, Volume 6, Issue 1 (Spring), 2013, pages 108-134.
    Keywords: Hymns; Ambrose of Milan; Roman music; early Christianity; history; ancient;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Ancient Classics
    Item ID: 4605
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Dr. Michael Williams
    Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 15:18
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Late Antiquity
    Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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