An Arabic Christian Hymnal in Praise of the Saints, Translated from the Byzantine Greek Language


The manuscript presented here contains hymns praising the saints. It is divided into the 12 months of the year, with the name of each month written in clear bold black script. Each month is divided into days, which are also denoted in bold black script. Each day then has several hymns, which are indicated in red. Holy days, such as Palm Sunday and Easter, are highlighted. A note at the end of the manuscript explains that it was kept as an endowment in the Greek Orthodox Church in Aleppo, Syria in 1855. The manuscript was finished in 1778, and the binding was made by a monk, Arcadius, as a note on the pastedown indicates. The first hymn in the manuscript is dedicated to Saint Sam'an al-ʻAmudi (Saint Simeon Stylites the Elder), a Syrian monk born circa 390 near Aleppo (died 459). He was the first Stylite (pillar hermit) and spent a great part of his life on a pillar. The Arabic translator is unknown, but according to Néophytos Edelby (1920–95), who was archbishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Aleppo, “an Arabic Christian hymnal book” was retranslated and edited, among other liturgical works, in 1612 by Abdel-Karim Meletios Euthymius II Karmah (1572–1635), the metropolitan bishop of Aleppo, and later the Melkite patriarch of Antioch. Meletios Karmah was a major figure in the Melkite Church of his time. He is known to have led the 17th-century liturgical reform in the Patriarchate of Antioch by translating into Arabic Greek texts that were published at the time in Venice. His Arabic translations became the standard for service books until today. The name of the scribe, copying in a beautiful naskh script, is given as Jibrail (Gabriel).

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

مخطوط مسيحي استشراري عربي مفسر من اللغة اليونانية الرومية مديح القديسين

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 manuscript (unnumbered) ; 22 x 17 centimeters


  1. Samn! “17th Century Liturgical Reform in the Patriarchate of Antioch” Notes on Arab Orthodoxy January 12, 2014.

Last updated: November 6, 2017