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Abstract

The chapter focuses on the poetry written to be sung in church services, and especially the main hymn forms, and their prominent representatives, concluding with the state and prospects of research. Continuing the communal worship of the Jews, Christian communities initially used poetic pieces from the scriptures, but gradually developed more independent hymnody. Among a variety of hymn forms, there are two major ones with a complex strophic system and governed by distinct rules of versification, isosyllaby and homotonia: the kontakion that flourished in the 6th century; and the kanon from the 8th century. From the 9th century onwards, hymn forms were adapted to secular subjects, and put to use in areas outside the liturgy, such as teaching, to praise or blame, for laments or satire. At the same time various glossae and scholia in lexica, epimerisms, paraphrases and, later, lengthy commentaries on well-known hymns, attest to the popularity of hymnography.

In: A Companion to Byzantine Poetry 
In: Court Ceremonies and Rituals of Power in Byzantium and the Medieval Mediterranean