Let us now praise godly singing . . .
Ephrem the Syrian (c. 300-373) was a native of Nisibis, in Roman Mesopotamia, and was very probably the head of the catechetical school of that city until its capture by the Persians. He subsequently became a monk near Edessa and there spent most of his life writing commentaries on the Bible and composing hymns. Ephrem’s hymns, written in his native Syriac, kept his people free from heresy and won for the saint the title of “Harp of the Holy Spirit.” His hymns to the Virgin Mary, in particular, form an important contribution to Catholic dogma.
Hymns can do that, which points up a main complaint about the mass of the ’70s until now: they flirt with sentimental nonsense, blurring doctrine in favor of a mostly sweetness-and-light contribution to what Catholics believe.