A Hymn to Hapy – the Seasons of the Nile

This Hymn to the Nile, also called the Hymn to Hapy, comes from the time of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2000 BCE).   Although Hapy never had his own temple complex, as the personified inundation of the Nile, he was the focus of multiple ceremonies throughout the year. This hymn refers to Egyptian religion and the Egyptians’ relationship to the Nile through the seasons.

In our current times, we are undergoing major droughts, heavy rains, flooding, hail, snow and storms throughout the world – all of these natural phenomenon pertain to water, or the lack thereof.

This Hymn to Hapy is about the Nile, the waters of the Nile and how people are impacted by the rising and falling of the Nile.


When he is sluggish noses clog,
Everyone is poor;
As the sacred loaves are pared,
A million perish among men.
When he plunders, the whole land rages,
Great and small roar;
People change according to his coming,
When Khnum has fashioned him.
When he floods, earth rejoices,
Every belly jubilates,
Every jawbone takes on laughter,
Every tooth is bared.

Mighty is Hapy in his cavern,
His name unknown to those below,
For the gods do not reveal it.
You people who extol the gods,
Respect the awe his son has made,
The All-Lord who sustains the shores!
Oh joy when you come!
Oh joy when you come, O Hapy,
Oh joy when you come!
You who feed men and herds
With your meadow gifts!
Oh joy when you come!
Oh joy when you come, O Hapy,
Oh joy when you come!


Source: Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume I, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 204