‘Phos hilaron’ (‘joyful light’) is an ancient hymn originating in the early church and sung daily at Vespers (hesperinos) in the Byzantine liturgy of the hours. It is still sung today. St. Basil the Great (d. 379) described it as ancient, in fact so old that he did not know who wrote it, and he equated it with thanksgiving for the light. The origin of the hymn, as well as the name of the hymnographer, is unknown, though there is a reference to a martyr Athenogenes in the modern horologion.
The Spanish nun Egeria (4th century) mentioned a lucernarium (a ritualization of the lighting of the evening lamp) in her diary from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and by the end of the...
Cite this article
If you have a valid subscription to Dictionary of Hymnology, please log inlog in to view this content. If you require a subscription, please click here.