Hymn to the Aten

Allegedly written by Akhenaten himself, around 1360 BCE, this hymn of love and fervor conveys a vibrancy unparalleled in all the literature bequeathed to us from Ancient Egypt. Several versions and variations were discovered in the devastated tombs of the Tell el Amarna dignitaries. Below you will find the main excerpts from the completest version, found in the tomb of Ay:


Thou arisest fair in the horizon of Heaven,
O Living Aten, Beginner of Life.
When thou dawnest in the East,
Thou fillest every land with thy beauty.
Thou art indeed comely, great, radiant and high over every land.
Thy rays embrace the lands to the full extent of all that thou hast made,
For thou art Re and thou attainest their limits
And subdues them for thy beloved son.
Thou art remote yet thy rays are upon the earth.
Thou art in the sight of men, yet thy ways are not known.

When thou settest in the Western horizon,
The earth is in darkness after the manner of death.
Men spend the night indoors with their head covered,
The eye not seeing its fellow.
Their possessions might be stolen, even when under their heads,
And they would be unaware of it.
Every lion comes forth from its lair
And all snakes bite.
Darkness lurks and the earth is silent
When their Creator rests in his habitation.

The earth brightens when thou arisest in the Eastern horizon, [...]
Thou drivest away the night when thou givest forth thy beams.
The Two Lands are in festival.
They awake and stand upon their feet
For thou hast raised them up.
They wash their limbs, they put on raiment
And raise their arms in adoration at thy appearance.
The entire earth performs its labors.
[...]

Thou appointest every man to his place and satisfiest his needs.
Everyone receives his sustenance and his days are numbered.
Their tongues are diverse in speech [...]
And their color is differentiated,
For thou hast distinguished the nations.
Thou makest the waters under the earth
And thou bringest them forth [as the Nile] at thy pleasure to sustain the people of Egypt
Even as thou hast made them live for thee,
O Divine Lord of them all, toiling for them,
The Aten Disk of the day time, great in majesty!
All distant foreign lands also, thou createst their life.
Thou hast placed a Nile in heaven to come forth for them
And make a flood upon the mountains like the sea
In order to water the fields of their villages.
How excellent are thy plans, O Lord of Eternity!
- a Nile in the sky is thy gift to foreigners
And to beasts of their lands;
But the true Nile flows from under the earth for Egypt.
[...]

When you rise you stir everyone for the King,
Every leg is on the move since you founded the earth.
You rouse them for your son who came from your body,
The King who lives by Maat, the Lord of the Two Lands,
Neferkheperure, Sole-one-of Re,
The son of Re who lives by Maat, the lord of crowns,
Akhenaten, great in his lifetime;
And the great Queen whom he loves, the Lady of the Two Lands,
Nefer-nefru-Aten Nefertiti, living forever.!