• Greek: hymnos


A song of praise. In ancient pagan literature a hymn was a song in honor of gods or heroes. The noun occurs in two passages in the New Testament (Ephesians 5; Colossians 3). From the spiritual contents of such songs it is difficult to distinguish the three kinds of Divine praise indicated by the different terms, psalms, hymns, and canticles. Saint Augustine, commenting on Psalm 148, defines hymn as “a song with praise of God,” but praise of God must be understood to include the praise of His saints. Moreover a song can be composed in prose, but by hymn is understood a song whose sequence of words is ruled by a symmetrical arrangement of verses, with or without rhyme. The term song must not be limited to songs actually set to music and sung, but may be given to any religious lyrical poem capable of being sung and set to music.

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “hymn”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 October 2008. Web. 22 October 2021. <>