Hymn To Aten

By : Swecha Ramireddy, VIcky O'Brien, and Jonathan Choi

The Beginnings

This story begins in ancient Egypt with Amenhotep IV. (l350-1334 BC). He has been identified as uniquely the first "monotheist" worshipping his single god "Aten", the Sun. Aten, similar to the ancient Egyptian god "Ra", was represented by the sun-disk, was the creator of all life, and was a god of goodness and divine benevolence. In each of the three divisions of the Egyptian empire Egypt, Kush, and Syria, he built a temple dedicated to Aten. He took up residence in a city he had built called Akhetaten, known today as the Tell el-Armarna in the southeastern part of Egypt. Aten represented a universal power that paralleled the Pharaoh's growing power over the known world. Akenaten actually paid individuals to follow his cult of Aten. However, the faith never became popular.

O SOLE GOD WITHOUT EQUAL ! YOU ARE ALONE, SHINING IN YOUR FORM OF THE LIVING ATEN. RISEN, RADIANT, DISTANT AND NEAR. GREAT HYMN, 47 & 73-74.

The Founder

The Great Hymn to the Aten is an ancient Egyptian hymn to the sun god Aten.

In the tomb of Ay, the chief minister of Akhenaten (and later to become king after Tutankhamun’s death, p. 136), occurs the longest and best rendition of a composition known as the ‘Hymn to the Aten’, said to have been written by Akhenaten himself. Quite moving in itself as a piece of poetry, its similarity to, and possible source of the concept in, Psalm 104 has long been noted. Akhenaten was not a usual character. He was an intellectual and philosophical revolutionary who had the power and wealth to indulge his ideas. He tried to change the Egyptian people to a concept of god which was both monotheistic and abstract.

He worshipped the sun (Aten) as the one true god and it is possible that the Hebrew prophets’ concept of a universal God was copied in part from this cult.


Significance

During Akenaten's reign, Egypt's power significantly declined. When Akenaten died, his temples were destroyed. Among the few remains of his cult were hymns found written in the tombs of the proselytes at Amarna. The longest of these hymns to Aten is noted to be similar to the Psalm 104, written for the Bible hundreds of years later. The striking similarities are hard to miss.



Important Verses

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!

They are hidden from the face (of man).

O sole god, like whom there is no other!

Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,

Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,

Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,

And what is on high, flying with its wings.

The countries of Syria and Nubia, the land of Egypt,

Thou settest every man in his place,

Thou suppliest their necessities:

Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.



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Ancient Egyptian Music - Nenchefka's Orchestra by granpiramide