8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (2023)

Music is found in every culture around the world and has existed for at least 55,000 years. Although musical compositions may have existed this far back in human history, the earliest written songs only date back to over 3,000 years ago.

Most of the known songs come from the early 1st through 4th century CE and were religious hymns. Several of these early Christian hymns are still used by the Church today.

Researchers have spent time piecing together these songs and recordings for all of the songs on this list exist and can be heard online.

8. Sumer Is Icumen In

Year Created: mid 13th century CE
Country of Origin: England
Written By: Unknown, possibly W. de Wycombe

8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (1)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Although the title of “Sumer Is Icumen In” (also called Summer Cannon or Cuckoo Song) may not look like modern English, the song is considered the oldest existing English song. The song dates back to medieval England in the mid-13th century and was written in the Wessex dialect of Middle English. It has an upbeat melody and lyrics that celebrate the start of the Summer.

In addition to being a fun song about Summer, the song contains the oldest recorded use of the word “fart.”

The earliest known manuscript of the song was found in Reading Abbey and is currently owned by the British Library. The song is an important part of English history and several renditions of the song have been recorded. It was also featured in the 1973 film The Wicker Man.

7. Te Deum

Year Created: 387 CE
Country of Origin: Roman Empire
Written By: Traditionally attributed to Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine; could also be Saint Hilary or Saint Nicetas

8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (2)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

(Video) 8 Oldest Written Songs in the World | Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal | Delphic Hymns | Seikilos Epitaph

Te Deum, also called A Song of the Church and Ambrosian Hymn, is one of the earliest Christian songs of praise. The hymn was most likely written by Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine in 387 CE, to celebrate Augustine’s baptism.

Te Deum is still regularly used by the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Methodist Church, as well as some Lutheran Churches. It is typically used in the Office of the Readings in the Liturgy of Hours and during special blessings such as the election of a pope, the consecration of a bishop, and the canonization of a saint.

The hymn may also be used as part of a short, separate religious ceremony designed to give thanks.

6. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Year Created: c. 4th century CE
Country of Origin: Greece
Written By: Unknown; modern arrangement by Ralph Vaughn Williams

8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (3)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence is another early Christian Greek hymn that is still used today. The hymn was originally written for the Offertory of the Divine Liturgy of St. James, which is the oldest complete form of the Divine Liturgy still in existence.

The modern arrangement of the hymn was created by Ralph Vaughn Williams. He used a translation of the original Greek words by Gerard Moultrie and paired them with the French medieval folk melody, “Picardy”. This version of the hymn eventually became popular among other Christian congregations around the world.

5. Phos Hilaron (Lumen Hilare)

Year Created: c. late 3rd or early 4th century CE
Country of Origin: Greece
Written By: Unknown – may have been composed by St. Basil the Great

8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (4)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Phos Hilaron, which is often called Lumem Hilare today, is considered one of the earliest Christian Greek hymns. It is the oldest complete hymn that is still widely used by the Church today. The hymn was first documented in the Apostolic Constitutions, which was written sometime in the late 3rd century or early 4th century CE.

(Video) The Oldest Known Melody (Hurrian Hymn no.6 - c.1400 B.C.)

St. Basil the Great, who lived between 329 – 379 AD, said that the Phos Hilaron was already considered an old hymn in his day. Although not much is known about the exact origins of the Phos Hilaron, some people believe that St. Basil may have composed the song.

Today, the hymn is usually sung during lighting of the lamps in the evening, which is why the song is known as the “Lamp-Lighting Hymn.”

4. Oxyrhynchus Hymn

Year Created: c. end of the 3rd century CE
Country of Origin: Oxyrhynchus, Egypt
Written By: Unknown

8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (5)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Oxyrhynchus hymn is the oldest known Christian Greek hymn containing both lyrics and a melody. It was found on Papyrus 1786 of the Oxyrhynchus papyri (thousands of ancient manuscripts discovered in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt) in 1918. The hymn dates back to around the end of the 3rd century CE and was written in Greek vocal notation.

Although the hymn is believed to have been used in early Greek Christian worship, it does not draw from the Bible or Biblical passages. The lyrics of the hymn do reference praise for the Holy Trinity. The hymn only exists as a small fragment, but there are modern recordings of the song.

3. Seikilos Epitaph

Year Created: c.100 CE
Country of Origin: Ancient Greek town of Tralles (modern-day Turkey)
Written By: Seikilos – possibly to his wife Euterpe

8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (6)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Although there are pieces of music older than the Seikilos Epitaph, it is the oldest complete song ever found. The song’s lyrics and melody are complete and were found engraved on a funerary stele. The date of the song ranges between 200 BCE to 100 CE, but the first century is the more accepted date.

The short song may have been written by a man named Seikilos as a dedication to his wife Euterpe or the Muse of music. Since the inscription on the stele is clear, researchers have had no problems reconstructing the song’s melody or lyrics. The Epitaph was first discovered in 1883 and has changed ownership several times; it is currently on display at the National Museum of Denmark.


2. Delphic Hymns

Year Created: c.128 BCE (first hymn may have been written in 138 BCE)
Country of Origin: Ancient Greece
Written By: Delphic Hymn by Athénaios Athenaíou; Second Delphic Hymn by Limenios

8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (7)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Delphic Hymns are two Ancient Greek musical compositions that date back to around 128 BCE. After the hymns were first discovered in 1893, the First Hymn was dated to 138 BCE. However, modern research suggests that both hymns were written around the same time in 128 BCE for a performance at the Athenian Pythaides. Both songs were written for the Ancient Greek deity Apollo.

The First Hymn uses vocal notation, while the Second Hymn uses instrumental notation. Unfortunately, both songs are incomplete, but musicologists have done their best to piece together the fragments. Several modern recordings of both hymns exist.

1. Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal

Year Created: c.1400 BCE
Country of Origin: Ancient Amorite-Canaanite city of Ugarit (modern-day northern Syria)
Written By: Unknown

8 Oldest Songs in the World - Oldest.org (8)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal, also called Hurrian cult hymn or h.6, is considered the oldest song in the world. The song is part of about 36 hymns written in cuneiform on clay tablets uncovered in the ancient city of Ugarit.

Tablet h.6 is the most complete in the collection and the song’s lyrics are an ode to Nikkal, a Semitic goddess of orchards. The tablet also contains instructions for the singer to be accompanied by a type of harp called a sammûm.

Over the years, the song has been reconstructed by musicians and researchers and anyone can listen to what the song may have sounded like through online videos. The h.6 tablet is currently located in the National Museum of Damascus.


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What is the oldest song ever made? ›

The Hurrian Hymn was discovered in the 1950s on a clay tablet inscribed with Cuneiform text. It's the oldest surviving melody and is over 3,400 years old.

What is the oldest song still sung? ›

In the academic world, the song "Gaudeamus Igitur" has been known and sung since at least 1287. The currently used melody is only tracked back to the 1780's, but it is mentioned to be an old melody even in that source.

What is the oldest song in the US? ›

First American Song - My Days Have So Wondrous Free (1759) What is believed to the first original American song was written by a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The composer was Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791). He was a lawyer and also an amateur composer.

What is the oldest known song in English? ›

"Sumer is icumen in" is the incipit of a medieval English round or rota of the mid-13th century; it is also known variously as the Summer Canon and the Cuckoo Song.

What is the hardest song to sing in history? ›

Here's our list of 10 hardest karaoke songs to sing
  1. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY by Queen. Sing karaoke version of Bohemian Rhapsody here.
  2. B.Y.O.B by System of a Down. ...
  3. BODY AND SOUL by John Green. ...
  4. STONE COLD by Demi Lovato. ...
  5. WITHOUT ME by Eminem. ...
  6. LOVIN' YOU by Minnie Riperton. ...
  7. IMAGINE by Ariana Grande. ...
  8. MONEY by Pink Floyd. ...
Aug 26, 2020

When did humans first sing? ›

Making music is a universal human trait that goes back to at least 35,000 years ago. Explore the evidence for some of the world's earliest musical instruments.

Who was the first singer ever? ›

An anonymous vocalist sings "Au Claire De La Lune" to Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, who makes the first known and oldest surviving recording of the human voice.

What is the oldest Christmas song? ›

Scholars credit the world's oldest Christmas hymn-song to the 4th century in France and written by St. Hilary of Poitier (c310-367). The carol was “Jesus Refulsit Omnium” (“Jesus, Light of All the Nations” aka “Jesus Illuminates all”).

What instrument came first? ›

The oldest musical instrument in the world, a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flute is a treasure of global significance. It was discovered in Divje babe cave near Cerkno and has been declared by experts to have been made by Neanderthals. It is made from the left thighbone of a young cave bear and has four pierced holes.

What was the earliest church music? ›

Early Christian hymns are known as canticles and are often based on Biblical passages other than the psalms; they are still used in Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist liturgy, examples are Te Deum and Benedicite.

What is the world's oldest sheet music? ›

The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world. The epitaph has been variously dated, but seems to be either from the 1st or the 2nd century CE.

What is the first popular music? ›

In the United States, minstrel shows performed the compositions of songwriters such as Stephen Foster. In the 1890s Tin Pan Alley emerged as the first popular song-publishing industry, and over the next half century its lyricism was combined with European operetta in a new kind of play known as the musical.

When was best song ever written? ›

The song was written and composed by Wayne Hector, Ed Drewett, Matt Rad, along with the band's regular collaborators Julian Bunetta and John Ryan.
Best Song Ever.
"Best Song Ever"
Released22 July 2013
RecordedDecember 2012
GenrePop rock
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What was Examples first song? ›

Example made his first chart appearance in September 2009, when he released "Watch the Sun Come Up" as the lead single from his second album Won't Go Quietly through Data Records. The single debuted at number 20 on the UK Singles Chart, rising to number 19 the following week.

What is oldest city in the world? ›

Jericho, Palestine

A small city with a population of 20,000 people, Jericho, which is located in Palestine, is believed to be the oldest city in the world.

What was the first language ever? ›

Sumerian can be considered the first language in the world, according to Mondly. The oldest proof of written Sumerian was found on the Kish tablet in today's Iraq, dating back to approximately 3500 BC.

Is Egypt older than China? ›

All existing archaeological evidence and studies from around the world support the conclusion that Egypt's ancient civilisation appeared far earlier than that of China's, despite the shared similarities.

Who has the most beautiful voice? ›

The greatest singing voices of all time
  • 1 of 35. Celine Dion. Kevin Winter/Getty Images. ...
  • 2 of 35. Barbra Streisand. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for BSB. ...
  • 3 of 35. Etta James. ...
  • 4 of 35. Nina Simone. ...
  • 5 of 35. Aretha Franklin. ...
  • 6 of 35. Whitney Houston. ...
  • 7 of 35. Smokey Robinson. ...
  • 8 of 35. Mariah Carey.
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What is the best song ever? ›

Best songs ever ranked
  1. “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. ...
  2. “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. ...
  3. “Stand By Me” by Ben E. ...
  4. “Imagine” by John Lennon. ...
  5. “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack. ...
  6. “God Only Knows” by Beach Boys. ...
  7. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. ...
  8. “Can't We Be Friends” by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong.
Dec 5, 2016

What song has been listened to the most? ›

"Blinding Lights" by the Weeknd (pictured) is the most-streamed song of all time on Spotify, with over 3.4 billion streams as of March 2023.

What is the rarest voice type? ›

Contraltos are arguably the rarest of female voice types and they possess a tone so dark they often give the men a run for their money. If mezzos are like clarinets, contraltos are more like bass clarinets.

Are we all born to sing? ›

The ability to sing isn't necessarily something you're born with. You can be born with the right genetics and physiological features that put you at a better vocal disposition to become a singer, but that doesn't mean singing is innate. You have to learn how to use this vocal apparatus to be able to sing.

What was years first song? ›

2010–2014: Formation and early years

Years & Years' first single, "I Wish I Knew" was released in July 2012 on the Good Bait label, with the band performing as a five-piece. Leeman and Subria left the band the following year, leaving them as a trio.

Who was the first girl to sing? ›

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an American jazz singer, sometimes referred to as the "First Lady of Song", "Queen of Jazz", and "Lady Ella".
Ella Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald, c. 1962
BornElla Jane FitzgeraldApril 25, 1917 Newport News, Virginia, U.S.
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What is the oldest recorded human voice? ›

The oldest recorded human voice is a ten-second fragment of the French folk song 'Au Clair de la Lune'. It was recorded on 9 April 1860 by inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (France).

Who was the first black singer? ›

George Washington Johnson (c. October 1846 – January 23, 1914) was an American singer and pioneer sound recording artist. Johnson was the first African American recording star of the phonograph. His most popular songs were "The Whistling Coon" and "The Laughing Song".

What was Santa's first Christmas song? ›

The first Christmas song to mention Santa Claus was Benjamin Hanby's “Up on The Housetop.” Written in 1864, Hanby was inspired by Clement Moore's 1823 poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.”

What was the first ever Christmas number 1? ›

The history of the Christmas number one - now one of the great festive traditions - begins with Al Martino and his ballad Here In My Heart. This topped the charts in 1952 and was not only the first Christmas number one, but also the first ever UK number one.

What was the first Christmas song in America? ›

It's generally accepted that one of the first Christmas carols ever to be recorded was the 129 AD 'Angels Hymn', according to The New Daily.

How old is the oldest flute? ›

Flute fragments found earlier at the nearby site of Geissenklösterle have been dated to around 35,000 years ago. The newfound flutes, though, "date to the very period of settlement in the region by modern humans ... about 40,000 years ago," Conard said.

Did cavemen have music? ›

The cave paintings were part of a ritual system — like early religious beliefs — practiced by Paleolithic humans that likely also included singing and music, Reznikoff said. He noted that bone whistles and flutes have been found inside many of the caves.

What was the first Bible song? ›

The song of Moses and Miriam

The first song in the Bible happens after one of its greatest miracles. God parts the Red Sea, allowing the children of Israel to cross on dry ground, escaping Pharaoh's army.

What is the first song sung in the Bible? ›

"Song of Moses".

How old is music in the Bible? ›

In the Bible the origin of music is ascribed to Ju- bal 'the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe' (Gn 4:21). From archaeology we know that music is very old. Music was already relatively developed as early as the third millennium Be.

What are the oldest records in the world? ›

Oldest people
1Jeanne Calment122 years, 164 days
2Kane Tanaka119 years, 107 days
3Sarah Knauss119 years, 97 days
4Lucile Randon118 years, 340 days
6 more rows

What is the oldest album in the world? ›

Sometime in 1889, Emile Berliner recorded the first album in the history of the world. Then, that record by the father of the gramophone was destroyed. Today, Patrick Feaster, a sound historian at Indiana University, recreated the album using just a printed photograph of the album.

What are the oldest piano songs? ›

The earliest music definitely written and published specifically for the piano were twelve Sonate da cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmente di martelletti (Florence, 1732) by Lodovico Giustini (1685–1743), dedicated to Don Antonio of Portugal, uncle of Maria Barbara and another student of Scarlatti.

What was the first rap song? ›

The Sugar Hill Gang's 12-inch single "Rapper's Delight" - released in 1979 - became the first rap song to be played on the radio.

What was the used first song? ›

"Maybe Memories" was the first song The Used ever wrote as a band. Before lead singer Bert McCracken joined the band, The Used held auditions for a singer at bassist Jeph Howard's house. The group called the auditions "terrible" until guitarist Quinn Allman asked his friend Bert McCracken if he wanted to audition.

What is the oldest band that is still making music? ›

Who are the oldest bands still touring today?
  • Iron Maiden - established 1975. ...
  • Blondie: established 1974. ...
  • KISS - established 1973. ...
  • Devo: established 1973. ...
  • Sparks: established 1972. ...
  • The Eagles: established 1971. ...
  • The Who - established 1964. ...
  • The Beach Boys - established 1961.
Mar 5, 2023

Who is the oldest person alive? ›

The oldest known living person is Maria Branyas of Spain, aged 116 years, 10 days. The oldest known living man is Juan Vicente Pérez of Venezuela, aged 113 years, 291 days. The 100 oldest women have, on average, lived several years longer than the 100 oldest men.

Who was the 1st rapper? ›

One of the first rappers at the beginning of the hip hop period, at the end of the 1970s, was also hip hop's first DJ, DJ Kool Herc. Herc, a Jamaican immigrant, started delivering simple raps at his parties, which some claim were inspired by the Jamaican tradition of toasting.

Who is the first female rapper? ›

Sharon Green (born 1962), considered the "first female rapper" or emcee, known by the rap moniker MC Sha-Rock. Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, she grew up in the South Bronx, New York City during the earliest years of hip hop culture.

Who first made rap? ›

Rap began in 1971, in the Bronx, with Kool Herc, who was from Jamaica. At block parties, Kool Herc would play two turntables by hand and manipulate the sound to create an entirely new sound, while he rapped the lyrics from the song he was playing.

What was the first number one song? ›

Al Martino – Here In My Heart (1952) – was also the first ever Number 1 single!

What was the first rock songs? ›

The most widely held belief is that the first rock'n'roll single was 1951's Rocket 88, written by Ike Turner, sung by Jackie Brenston (the saxophone player from Turner's backing band The Kings of Rhythm), and recorded by Sam Phillips, who later went on to found Sun records and discover Elvis Presley.

Who came up with songs? ›

The short answer is: No one knows who invented music. No historical evidence exists to tell us exactly who sang the first song, or whistled the first tune, or made the first rhythmic sounds that resembled what we know today as music. But researchers do know it happened thousands of years ago.

What is the oldest American band? ›

In fact, America's oldest continuously active professional music organization predates Washington, D.C. The U.S. Marine Band was founded by an act of Congress — signed by then-President John Adams — in 1798, two years before Washington, D.C., became the nation's capital.

Who is the oldest rock and roll singer still alive? ›

The Oldest Living Musicians in 2021
  • Dolly Parton, 75. ...
  • Mick Jagger, 78. ...
  • Paul McCartney, 79. ...
  • Bob Dylan, 80. ...
  • Chubby Checker, 80. ...
  • Jerry Lee Lewis, 86. ...
  • Bobby Rush, 87. ...
  • Frankie Valli, 87.
Nov 4, 2021

Who is the oldest rock star still performing? ›

16 Of The Oldest Musicians Still Touring, Recording, And Kicking...
  • Willie Nelson, 87. WillieNelsonVEVO. ...
  • Dionne Warwick, 80. DionneWarwickVEVO. ...
  • Tony Bennett, 94. tonybennettVEVO. ...
  • Paul McCartney, 78. PaulMcCartneyVEVO. ...
  • Ringo Starr, 80. RingoStarrVEVO. ...
  • Yoko Ono, 87. Yoko Ono. ...
  • Buddy Guy, 84. AustinCityLimitsTV. ...
  • Loretta Lynn, 88.
Jan 19, 2021

Who lived more than 300 years? ›

According to one tradition, Epimenides of Crete (7th, 6th centuries BC) lived nearly 300 years.

Who lived more than 600 years? ›

For example, some individuals of the Galapagos tortoise are able to live more than 175 years, and some individuals of the bowhead whale more than 200 years.
Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)
NameMasoretic AgeSeptuagint Age
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How old is the oldest dog? ›

A picture taken on February 12, 2023 shows Bobi, a 30 year-old Portuguese dog that has been declared the world's oldest dog by Guinness World Records, at his home in the village of Conqueiros near Leiria.


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