The Divine Liturgy in English in Byzantine Chant by Cappella Romana, which you can buy here. Now, that’s what ison is supposed to sound like! They use the Greek Archdiocese of Great Britain translation, which is fairly odd in places (Mother of God instead of Theotokos), and you don’t expect to hear the full prayers on a recording like this, but it’s a great documentation of Byzantine chant.
Orthodox divine services are characterized by inner integrity and astounding beauty. From the priest’s exclamation at the very beginning of the service we are immersed in an atmosphere of uninterrupted prayer, in which psalms, litanies, hymns, prayers and the celebrating priest’s invocations follow one another in a continuous stream. The entire service is conducted as if in one breath, in one rhythm, like an ever unfolding mystery in which nothing distracts one from prayer.
Orthodox liturgical texts have, for Orthodox Christians, an incontestable doctrinal authority, whose theological irreproachability is second only to Scripture. Liturgical texts are a school of theology by virtue of being not simply the works of outstanding theologians and poets, but also the fruits of the prayerful experience of those who have attained sanctity and theosis …
If we can call the services of the Orthodox Church a school of theology, then the Divine Liturgy is this school par excellence. It teaches us about the mysteries of the Heavenly Kingdom because it itself is an icon of this Kingdom, the most complete, perfect reflection of the heavenly reality in our earthly conditions, a revelation of the transcendent through the immanent. In the Kingdom of God all symbols shall pass away, and only the heavenly reality will remain. There we will not commune of the Body and Blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine, but in a more perfect way we shall be united with Christ Himself, the Source of life and immortality. If the manner of our communion with God will change, its essence will remain the same – always a personal encounter with God, not of isolated people, but of people in communion with each other. In this sense it is correctly said that the Liturgy served on earth is but a part of the incessant Liturgy celebrated by people and angels in the Heavenly Kingdom.
It is evident that the Church must develop a strategy for its educational, catechetical and missionary work, making the treasures of Orthodox worship fully accessible to all. I believe, it is precisely the development of such missionary strategy whish is among the most essential tasks of the Orthodox Church worldwide in the 21st century.
I threw these together after for some time seeing Westerners asking for material they might do in church. I have confined my choices to those things that would not be theologically problematic (it’s said that the Psalter is the hymnbook of Orthodoxy, and I don’t see how anyone could object to Scripture). I have divided the selections into SATB (four-part polyphonic), for choirs, and simpler music, some of it chant, that works either with two or three chanters or a whole choir. All of these, by the way, are a cappella.
About ison: The ison is a pedal, or drone note that is sung continuously, even when the chant rests, so it’s best to have two or more singing ison, so the chanters can stagger breathing. Typically, the ison is the final note of the chant, but sometimes, it may move, and will be indicated on the music. Where “uni.” is written, the ison should be sung in unison with the chant melody.
- SATB, but not difficult.
- First Typica antiphon (“Greek” chant)
- Second Typica antiphon (“Greek” chant)
- Only-begotten Son (Soloviev)
- Beatitudes (“Greek” chant)
- Lord’s Prayer (Rimsy-Korsakov)
- Lord’s Prayer (Kedrov)
- Trisagion Hymn (Kievan — first one)
- Before Thy Cross (Traditional Russian)
- Bless the Lord — Psalm 103 (“Greek” chant)
- Come Let Us Worship (traditional Russian)
- All Creation Rejoices in Thee — Hymn to the Theotokos (Karam)
- Music that works well with as few as two chanters.
- Evlogitaria of the Resurrection (Znamenny, Tone 5)
- Blessed is the Man (Znamenny, arr. M. Bailey. Note: The final refrain “Alleluia … Glory to Thee, O God!” is sung three times)
- O Gladsome Light (Byzantine, Tone 5)
- Apostikha (Kievan, Tone 2)
- St Symeon’s Prayer (Kievan, Tone 6)
- Lord, I have cried — Psalm 140 (Byzantine Tone 4, Kazan. The ison is a pedal tone, or drone note, held by at least one chanter throughout.)
- Bless the Lord, O my soul — Psalm 102 (“Greek” chant)
- Praise the Lord, O my soul — Psalm 145 (“Greek” chant)
- Beatitudes (Alaskan melody)
- Steadfast Protectress (Obikhod, Tone 6)
- Great Doxology (Byzantine Tone 6, Kazan — if you’re looking for something a bit more exotic)
Ordination of Fr. Jason Franchak at St Tikhon Monastery on the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos. Bishop Tikhon is the one with the bald spot; the subdeacon is holding the book. The other two are priests. High-back Russian phelonion.
Photo by Whistling Train.
The other photos are from my photostream.
Metropolitan Jonah (left) and Patriarch Kyrill (right) in Moscow.
Metropolitan Philip, St Nicholas Cathedral (Brooklyn). Behind the iconostasis.
+Tikhon, Bishop of Eastern Pennsylvania (OCA).
Father Deacon Raphael on the right (presumably his priest on the left). Pascha.
Pascha. Deacon (left, facing), heiromonks (see the klobuks) and priests.
Pascha (deacon is on the right — note the stole).
+Melchisedek, Bishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania (OCA).
Forgiveness Vespers, which begins Great Lent.
Bishops and servers. Holding the fan on the left is a subdeacon (note how his stole is crossed, as opposed to a deacon, who wears the stole loose over the left shoulder).
Patriarch Daniel of Romania
You hear the deacon at the beginning of the first clip. The bells are on the chain of the censer.
Matins. God is the Lord. Kievan chant. Five (all men) at the kliros.
Matins Evlogitaria of the Resurrection. Znamenny chant. Three (men) at the kliros.
Matins. The Magnificat, always the first thing that gets congregational participation, so it’s impossible to say how many are at the kliros.