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Why is St. Ephrem called the “Harp of the Holy Spirit”?


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Philip Kosloski - published on 06/09/22

St. Ephrem, the "Harp of the Holy Spirit," wrote a number of hymns that are used by many Eastern Christians.

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St. Ephrem, an influential saint from the 4th century, is known as the “Harp of the Holy Spirit.”

Why is that?

St. Ephrem is called the “Harp of the Holy Spirit” primarily because of the number of hymns and poems that he wrote.

Even his homilies were written in verse, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Most of Ephraem’s sermons and exhortations are in verse, though a few sermons in prose have been preserved. If we put aside his exegetical writings, the rest of his works may be divided into homilies and hymns. The homilies are written in seven-syllable verse, often divided into two parts of three and four syllables respectively. He celebrates in them the feast of Our Lord and of the saints; sometimes he expounds a Scriptural narrative or takes up a spiritual or edifying theme.

As a result, “[i]n the East the Lessons for the ecclesiastical services were often taken from the homilies of Ephraem.”

Even today St. Ephrem’s hymns and homilies are used extensively in various Eastern Christian liturgies.

St. Ephrem was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit and let that inspiration form everything that he wrote.

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