The Hymn to the Aten
HYMN TO THE ATEN Prayer was written by Akhenaten in praise of the Aten, the single god that he worshipped when he became pharaoh.
Hymn to the Aten When you set in western light and, Earth is in darkness as if in death, One sleeps in chambers, heads covered, One eye does not see the other. Were they robbed of the goods, That are under their heads? People would not remark [know] it Every lion comes from its den, All the serpents bite; Darkness hovers, the earth is silent, As the maker rests in light and. Earth brightens when you dawn in Light land When you shine as Aten of daytime.
The entire land sets out to work, All beasts browse on their herbs; Trees, herbs are sprouting, Birds fly from their nests
Psalm 104 You bring darkness on, night falls, All the forest animals come out. The savage lions roar for their prey, Claiming their food from God.
The sun rises, they retire, going back to Their lairs, And the man goes out to work, And to labor until dusk.
Yahweh, what variety you have created.
The Hymn to the Aten Splendid you rise in heaven's light and, O living Aten, creator of life! When you have dawned in eastern light land, You fill every land with your beauty. You are beauteous, great, radiant, high over every land. Your rays embrace the lands, To the limits of all that you have made: Being Ra, you reach their limits, You bend them [for] the son whom you love; Though you are far, your rays are on earth Though one sees you, your strides are unseen.
How many are your deeds, Though hidden from sight O Sole God beside whom there is none! You made the earth as you wished, you alone, All peoples, herds, and flocks: All upon earth that walk on legs, All on high that fly on wings, The lands of Khor and Kush, The land of Egypt. You set every man in his place, You supply their needs; every one had his food, His life is counted. Their tongues differ in speech Their characters likewise; Their skins are distinct, For you distinguish the peoples. You are in my heart, There is no other who knows you.
Only your son, Nefer-khepru-Re, Sole one of Re, Whom you have taught your ways and might. From Ancient Egyptian Literature. Vol. 1. Translated by Miriam Lichtheim (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975).
This selection from the hymn to the Aten gives a sense of its power and beauty. Scholars have often noted its resemblance to Psalm 104 in the Bible. Although the two works are similar in feeling, however, it is unlikely that Psalm 104, written centuries after the hymn to the Aten (circa 1380 B.C), was directly influenced by Akhenaten's prayer. Perhaps strong beliefs created similar thoughts.