Hymn to the Nile

"Hymn to the Nile" is a tune that was created and sung by the ancient Egyptian peoples about the flooding of the Nile and all of the miracles it brought to ancient Egyptian civilization.[1] Because the ancient Egyptians had relied on this miracle river, Egypt was the “Gift of the Nile.”[2] Occurring at about 450 BCE, Herodotus—a Greek historian—called Egypt the “Gift of the Nile” because ancient Egyptian civilization depended on the resources from the river so they could continue living in that vicinity.[2] Beyond the Nile River is the Sahara Desert, and since it almost impossible to grow food in the desert, very few people lived far from the river itself. People that were settled close to the banks of the Nile shared the same language and also worshipped similar gods.[2]



The ancient Egyptian peoples did not believe the river was God himself and he blessed the population with goods and offerings.[2] Within the hymn, the river is described with human-like qualities, which in turn, makes the Nile more relatable to human life. However, the river was more than just given human-like qualities, but more-so God-like characteristics.[1] The hymn specifically states "offerings are made unto you, men are immolated to you, great festivals are instituted for you. Birds are sacrificed to you, gazelles are taken for you in the mountain, pure flames are prepared for you.”[3] This is an example of how the ancient Egyptian peoples treated the Nile as if it were bigger and better than humans themselves. This would be considered part of their religious practice, making the Nile River a religious figure to the ancient Egyptian peoples.


The ancient Egyptian peoples connected with the river agriculturally as well. They noticed that if the water levels reached too high then their shelter would be washed away. However, if the water level was not high enough it would bring famine and misfortune to their lives.[2] The happy medium was praised by the Egyptian people and looked at as a miracle for life itself. Ancient Egyptian agriculture boomed when the Nile River produced a middle ground to grow crops to feed the society. Crops have so much importance to keep a civilization up and running, and the Nile River made this and so much more possible for Egypt.[1] There are many quotes in the hymn itself showcasing their gratitude for the Nile River supporting their crop growth. For example, “He makes mankind valiant, enriching some, bestowing his love on others”[3] and “He stanches the water from all eyes and watches over the increase of his good things” [3]


The Nile pleased the Egyptian peoples economically also. Egypt was granted an economic stand point because crops were now growing on their land due to the regular flooding of the river.[1] Because of this, living would become much easier and life would be much more economically satisfying for Egyptian people at this point in time. Trading routes with other civilizations could also have been expanded making trading goods much easier as well as making more money for themselves to grant them better lives in this area.


  1. ^ a b c d "Hymn to the Nile". ARCJOHN. March 23, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Dowling, Mike. "Ancient Egypt: The Gift of the Nile". July 11, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Halsall, Paul (May 1998). "Hymn To The Nile". Fordham University. Retrieved November 20, 2016.