Good article

11 November, 2009

I just got this netbook, and I haven’t figured out how the touchpad works yet, so blogging may be spotty. In the meantime, there’s this: Singing in the choir taught me how to live



7 November, 2009

I grew up in a small, rural town in Southern Indiana – the same town, incidentally as Larry Bird, who was In my class. One of the things I’d like to do in the time I have left is document, for my family, for my community, and for myself, people who would otherwise be forgotten, and I am going to begin with my mother, largely because she has so much to do with who and where I am today – even though I am going to use her largely as a springboard today, and return to her later.

She was a music teacher in our town of 2,000, a pianist, and a voice teacher. Hers was the Campbellite side of my rather intriguingly mixed religious family, and she was the choir director in the local Disciples of Christ Church, which perhaps makes me somewhat more sympathetic to Christopher Reeves and Dr Bob.

I don’t have the most attractive voice, but I have an excellent ear. I have done a little reading, and if I can ever resume giving back to Holy Trinity, I would like to read. (For those not Orthodox, reading is not reading: it is plainchant. When we “read” the Epistle, we do not read or recite it: We chant it.) I do not have the time, or probably will not have the energy, to learn the tones, so reading is a more realistic goal, and Deacon Alex kindly worked on it with me.

I love liturgical music. It is really the only way to use what God gave me to worship Him. I am, however, extremely nervous singing solo, although I can get over that, if people will please be patient. If my time were not so limited, I would love to work with Christopher Reeves to learn Znamenny chant, but I do not have the time to do so. So I want, if at all possible, the chance to read a little in church as a meager attempt to return the amazing Christian compassion all of those at Holy Trinity have shown me to the greater glory of God. It may or may not be possible, depending on how much time and strength I have.

I am rapidly crashing and need to break. Glory to Jesus Christ!

Highly recommended

27 September, 2009

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.

Music selections

22 September, 2009

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)


15 September, 2009

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.

Byzantine notation

13 September, 2009

For those of you interested in neumes and other musical notation, here is an example of Byzantine notation (no, I cannot read it, so don’t ask).

KarasSample-with header

Liturgical music

7 September, 2009

Cappella Romana, Cherubic Hymn (by Mikko Sidoroff). Polyphonic.

We who mystically represent the Cherubim,
who sing to the Life-Giving Trinity the thrice-holy hymn,
let us now lay aside all earthly cares
that we may receive the King of all,
escorted invisibly by the angelic orders.

Cappella Romana, Alleluiarion (Byzantine).

By the word of the Lord the heavens were established, and all thier power by the Spirit of his mouth.


From heaven the Lord has looked upon the earth: he saw all the children of humankind.


Communion Hymn (Se ymnoumen, Byzantine) in Arabic.

In Greek, Cappella Romana in church (incorrectly identified by the uploader as the Cherubic Hymn), after the epiklesis.

We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.

Men’s choir of St Petersburg, Trisagion Hymn (Slavonic)

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us!
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us!
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us!
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and forever, and unto ages of ages, amen!
Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us!
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us!