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Hymn to Athena

Posted by Erik on July 31, 2007

From those wonderful Athena groupies at Bryn Mawr… here’s a recording of the hymn, and the lyrics (with translation, reproduced below).

Pallas Athena, goddess of learning and strength,
We come to you to worship you, dread goddess.
Bless us we pray; give us wisdom.
Be with us always, Blessed goddess, hear!
Sanctify our lanterns now, to shine forever clearly,
Lighting the way, making bright the dark.

Now that’s a great hymn! Apparently they also have a tradition of leaving offerings at Her statue – may She bless and reward them.

And on a semi-related note, it appears that somebody has recently decided to e-publish a reprint edition of To the Gods of Hellas: Lyrics of the Greek Games at Barnard College (Helen Erskine, editor – originally published in the 1920s). Google it or check with your favorite online book seller – it’s well worth having!

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13 Responses to “Hymn to Athena”

  1. Hrafnkell said

    Fantastic! I was just sitting through a commercial the other night for some Christian music and wishing we had some good Pagan hymns. All those from the old days are long gone, thanks to the Church and it’s time we write some new ones to our Gods and sing them proudly. Thanks for sharing. I sat back and closed my eyes and tried to picture what it must have been like, religious processions walking down the avenues of the ancient cities, singing hymns and celebrating joyously as they honored the Gods of us all.

  2. executivepagan said

    The book that I mentioned? I’ve used some of those hymns in worship, set to existing tunes (medieval, mostly)… it is a nice thing. And there are a couple of new hymns that I’ve come across as well that I just love – particularly John Schrag’s 4-part choral setting of Sabina Becker’s chant “Kore Evohe” (recorded by SheWho in the book/CD set “Winter Solstice Singing Ritual”).

  3. nettle said

    My lantern is on my altar. Lantern Night is amazing. The frosh all wear black robes and the lights on campus are out. It’s very solemn and beautiful and holy (and then silly afterwards, because it is college, after all.)

    The Lantern Night song is beautiful, but our main school song is the Sophias… “Sophias philai paroumen…” here: http://www.blight.com/~scarlett/traditions/songbook/sophias.html
    The school cheer is:
    “Anassa kata, kalo kale! Ia, ia, ia Nike!” (Descend, Queen; come, beautiful one. Hail hail, hail Victory!) We yell that at sports events. Mawrters are the awesomest nerds ever. I (heart) my alma mater.

    The tradition of leaving offerings to Athena is alive and well. I used to give her chocolate before exams. Others are more extravagant or ridiculous.

    Whenever I talk about my school days, my husband accuses me of having gone to Hogwarts. I would still be there if I could afford to be an eternal student. Thanks for giving me a few moments of reflexive nostalgia.

  4. executivepagan said

    Hey Nettle,
    > thanks

    Glad to! You couldn’t point me to a recording of “Sophias”, by any chance? I’d love to hear it… that recording of “Pallas Athena” is on heavy rotation in my car, and I’d love to hear more!

  5. nettle said

    I don’t know of any recordings online of the Sophias – I could sing it to you, but that’s not anything you would want to play in your car.

    I did find this lovely video of a BMC Greek professor reciting the Iliad in the middle of Erdman dining hall:

  6. executivepagan said

    That is most excellent! Thanks for sharing.

  7. […] prayers and hymns. For example, the Executive Pagan brought my attention to a short, beautiful Hymn to Athena that combines worship with a request for blessing and wisdom. For a more ancient source of Greek […]

  8. executivepagan said

    I finally did find a recording of “Sophias”, on the BMC website: http://www.brynmawr.edu/activities/docs/Sophias.mp3

    It’s cool to hear it, but I have to admit it’s not as catchy as the Lantern Night song… :)

  9. I’m the class of ’90 co-Songsmistress, looking for stuff for Reunion coming up, and stumbled across this post — thanks!

    I’m also the co-author of A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual — thanks for the shout-out.

    More info on that is available at my website or at the publisher’s website.
    http://sites.google.com/site/stasasministry/Home/winter-solstice
    http://emeraldearth.net/winter__solstice.htm

    Also, I see you have a link to Cat and Peter’s blog, as well. Hooray!

    Blessed be,
    Stasa Morgan-Appel
    BMC ’90
    Musings of a Quaker Witch
    (http://aquakerwitch.blogspot.com/)

  10. executivepagan said

    My pleasure!

  11. Crystal said

    This absolutely made my day. I’m one of those singing Pagan Bryn Mawr students too (hello alums! We are totally the awesomest nerds ever!), and wrote my thesis on Classical Greek religion – specifically women’s cults of Demeter and Persephone. That’s one of my favorite professors (and the second reader on my thesis) in the video :D. He’s actually a Haverford professor that chose to be helled at Bryn Mawr. My thesis advisor teaches a class on Classical Greco-Roman magic. It’s very popular. If you thought it felt like Hogwarts before, try walking into the bookstore with that reading list. I’ve never been so excited to do homework in my entire life.

    My lantern and my altar are always the first things in and last things out of wherever I’m living. My lantern has its own little altar spot too :) I wish I could find the picture I took of our Athena statue last May. She was piled high with colorful offerings (several of which were mine) since it was right before final exams. My favorites are the May crowns stacked on her head. Athena’s Circle (our Pagan group on campus) makes her one every year and process over to dedicate it to her the night before May Day and our dawn ritual of dancing up the sun. If I find the picture, I’ll be sure to send it your way!

    ~ Crystal Reed
    BMC Class ’09/’10/’11 (it’s been a windy road)

  12. executivepagan said

    Hi Crystal,
    Welcome! I’m glad I was able to brighten your day, and please do share that picture if you find it.

  13. Stasa said

    Crystal, a number of folks have done undergrad at Bryn Mawr “on the extended plan,” and have gone on to be successful and strong women… don’t apologize for it. :)

    I provided the BMC Bookstore with some copies of A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual book and CD at Reunion; there are still some there.

    And if you, or anyone you know who’s currently a student at Bryn Mawr, is interested in having a Winter Solstice Celebration at Bryn Mawr based on it this December, let me know at stasa dot website at gmail dot com. Your choir, or mine. ;-)

    And if anyone else is interested in it (want to hear “Kore Evohe” live?), I’m happy to help groups put this together, anywhere in the US (or elsewhere).

    I realize this might sound like a shameless commercial plug. And in some ways I guess it is. But it’s also that I love community-building, and that’s something this Celebration is really, really good for; that’s how it was devised over time, and that’s why we decided eventually to publish the book and record the CD.

    (And SheWho’s independent album, “The Earth Will Turn Over,” has some great pieces on it, plus it’s actually better musicaly.)

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