As Syria was one of the earliest centers of Christianity, its style of chant is among the oldest in the world. However, as no early musical manuscripts exist, it is conjectural to what extent the modern repertoire reflects the early traditions.
In the early church, the music consisted of hymns and antiphonal psalmody. The earliest extant work is the Gnostic Psalter of the 2nd century, a collection of Psalm texts in hymn form reflecting a Gnostic theology. The first orthodox work are the hymns of Ephrem the Syrian (306–373), some of which are still used today. Both hymns and antiphonal psalmody were brought by St. Ambrose to Milan and are apparently the basis for Ambrosian chant.
Modern Syrian chant is much more rhythmic and syllabic than Gregorian chant.
- Velimirović, Miloš (1990). "Christian Chant in Syria, Armenia, Egypt, and Ethiopia". In Richard Crocker and David Hiley (ed.). The New Oxford History of Music: v.2 The Early Middle Ages to 1300 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 3–9. ISBN 0-19-316329-2.