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The concept of songs of praise, or hymns, was known from the [[Old Testament]] era, particularly the [[Psalms]], as well as in the pagan world. The word ''hymn'' comes from the Greek ''hymnos'' through the Latin ''hymnus''. In Orthodox Christian practice hymns may first have appeared as songs of praise primarily to God and later were extended to praise of saints as well as of God through his saints.
Among the most noted Orthodox Christian composers of hymns are St. [[Joseph the Hymnographer]], St. [[Roman the Melodist|Romanos the Hymnographer]], and St. [[Ephrem the Syrian]]. There are many others who have composed hymns, including to modern times.