Poetic genre which flourished in late E.-Syr. hymnography. In earlier periods, the term ʿonithā (pl. ʿonyāthā) indicates the antiphonal response to psalms or the refrain of a madrāšā (see Poetry), ranging from one line to a full verse. The late ʿonyāthā are liturgical hymns characterized by a tripartite structure: prologues and epilogues contain lines of various length, whereas the main text is structured in verses of a fixed number of isosyllabic lines. Generally a verse consists of four rhymed seven-syllable lines. Verses and/or lines are often connected by alphabetic acrostics or other stylistic artifices.

Being used during the daily service or celebration of the Eucharist, ʿonyāthā deal with various subjects: penitence, feasts of the liturgical year, praise of saints and martyrs, commemoration or prayer occasioned by dramatic events (war, famine, pestilence).

Gewargis Warda and Khamis bar Qardaḥe are considered masters of the genre. Long ʿonyāthā of historical-celebrative content were composed by Gabriel Qamṣa (Metr. of Mosul, 2nd half of the 13th cent.) and Brikhishoʿ bar Eshkafe (abbot of Beth Qoqa, 14th cent.?). The ʿonithā had its natural continuation in the Sureth genre of the dorekthā .


  • Baumstark, Literatur, 303, 323.

| ʿOnithā |


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