It was the Psalter of David which in the first centuries of our era slowly replaced all the other songs which Christians used to sing. But they missed chants which they had been used to hearing; thus, e.g. the Psalter did not contain the 'Song of Victory' of Moses (Ex. xv) by which the baptized used to thank God for their salvation, nor the 'Song of the Three Holy Children' (Dan. iii. 52-88), nor, from the New Testament, the Magnificat ( Luke i. 46-55). Thus we find in Codex Alexandrinus the fourteen biblical songs which are called Odes. In four studies H. Schneider has given the history of the development of the Odes in Eastern liturgy, in Biblica, vol. xxx ( 1949): (1) 'Die biblischen Oden im christlichen Altertum', pp. 28- 65; (2) 'Die biblischen Oden seit dem VI. Jahrhundert', pp. 239-72; (3) 'Die biblischen Oden in Jerusalem und Konstantinopel', pp. 433-52; (4) 'Die biblischen Oden im Mittelalter', pp. 479-500. H. Schneider shows that from the series of fourteen Odes in Codex Alexandrinus a definite series of fourteen Odes soon evolved which is found in the fifth century in Greek, Syrian, Coptic, and Armenian manuscripts and which kept for a particularly long time its liturgical place towards the end of the Evening Psalter in Constantinople.
The transformation of the fourteen Odes series to that of nine Odes was the work of monastic circles in Jerusalem during the fifth and sixth centuries. With the rise of the sung Kanons, at the end of the seventh century, which were modelled upon the nine Odes, the biblical canticles lost their liturgical significance and maintained their place only in Lent in the Morning Office.
The practice of responding to each verse of a canticle with the repetition of the first verse in full, or its second half, can be seen from the rubrics of the Typikon, Cod. 43 of the Holy Cross Library in Jerusalem, dating from 1122, published by A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus in Analecta Jerosolym. Stachyologias, vol. ii. Here, on p. 182, it is ordered that the Song of Moses and the Song of the Three Holy Children ( Dan. iii. 52-88) shall both be chanted during the Easter Vigil by three Psaltae and that after each verse the choir shall answer with ἐνδόξως γὰρ δεδόξασθαι (for He has triumphed gloriously) (Ex. xv. 1) and ὑμνει + ̑τε καὶ ὑπερυψου + ̑τε αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς αἰω + ̑νας (Praise and exalt Him above all for ever) ( Dan. iii. 57). The Triodion ( Rome, 1879), p. 757, has the rubric that the Anagnostes shall recite the following Canticle of the Three Holy Children 'and we sing after each verse Τὸν Κύριον ὑμνει + ̑τε (Praise the Lord. etc.)'
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Publication information: Book title: A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: Egon Wellesz - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1961. Page number: 363.
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