Unmercenary Sacred Music
Choir Practice Resources
November 9 , 2003
Sloan, Emilie, Cindy, Mike, Fr. Luke, Mat. Miriam, and Nick.
No practice next week. However, we will take a quick look at the tone six prokeimenon and alleluia immediately after the end of the divine liturgy. Those who have been to vespers will recognize the melody from the vesperal prokeimenon of Saturday night; therefore, it is not really new.
Anaphora: In the "Holy, Holy, Holy" the word sabaoth is to be pronounced as SAH-bah-oth, that is, the a should be like the a in father, not fat. So open up your mouth wide and sing, "AH."
Creed: In the first line of the akathist-melody creed, we need to sing it as it is written. The word I is not accented; the second syllable of believe is. Do not sing I on a half-note.
Galician Tone Five Prokeimenon and Alleluia: We practiced only the prokeimenon, but I am including the Alleluia. I have adjusted it a bit from the setting we practiced to make it a bit easier for the altos (voice crossing is gone).
Lesson: Changeable Parts of Liturgy
The elements of the divine liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil can be split into two types: fixed and changeable. There are several other terms that can be employed for "changeable" such as propers. Understanding these elements is a key to making the liturgical celebration go smoother. Knowing what changes and when reduces the risk for error and unnecessary correction and confusion during the liturgy. Below is a summary and some detailed remarks about the changeable items which concern those who sing the liturgy. During Sunday's rehearsal, I enumerated the elements; I will go into a bit more detail here. I am not including changes that occur at hierarchical liturgies.
- The Opening. During the paschal season this change involves the singing of "Christ is Risen" and the paschal verses (in some traditions), and during Pentecost the singing of "O Heavenly King."
- Antiphons. These change based on feast or day. Sundays use the typical psalms (pss. 103 and 145) and the beatitudes or the Sunday antiphonal psalms with their proper refrains (Byzantine and Ruthenian usage). Weekdays use the weekday antiphonal psalms (91, 92 and 94) with their proper refrains. Major feasts of the Lord have special festal antiphonal psalms with their proper refrains (the third antiphon's refrain is the troparion of the feast). In Byzantine usage the feasts of the Theotokos also have festal antiphons.
- The Entrance Antiphon. Also known as the Eisodikon or Introit. It is typically adapted from the sixth verse of Psalm 94: "O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ." Its refrain on Sunday is "O Son of God, risen from the dead, save us who sing to You. Alleluia." In Ruthenian usage, the refrain matches the refrain of the second and third antiphons. On most feast days, it is replaced by another psalm verse, and the refrain becomes the festal troparion.
- Troparia and Kontakia. A troparion is a generic word used for a great assortment of composed hymnography. In this case the troparion is the dismissal troparion of vespers (apolytikion), which is also used at the beginning of matins after the singing of "God is the Lord." A kontakion was originally a long poetic hymn composed of many lines with a fixed refrain. The original kontakia had twenty-four stanzas and was sung after the festal vigil serviced called the panychis. The name kontakion does not come into use until the ninth century although the form is from the sixth century. Later it was attached to the canon.
- Each stanza is called a troparion with three to thirteen lines
- There is a prelude (prooimion or koukoulion) with a refrain common to each troparion (ephymion).
- The prelude and troparia were linked by by an acrostic (the first letter of each element spells a word or sentence). All of the troparia had the same number of syllables and stresses as the prelude, which made a common melody possible.
What remains of the kontakion in our liturgy is the prelude. Kontakia are sung at matins after the third and sixth odes. And this is what is sung at the liturgy. Each Sunday we sing the troparia and kontakia in the following order:
The Trisagion. The trisagion or "thrice holy" is almost always "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us." However, it changes to "As Many as have been baptized" on days that traditionally may have been days when baptisms were celebrated (or had been celebrated the night or day before): Christmas, Theophany, Lazarus Saturday, the Paschal Vigil of Holy Saturday, Pascha, and Pentecost. It is also used when baptismal divine liturgies are served. The one other replacement is "Before Your Cross," which is sung during the feast of the Exultation of the Cross (September 14) and on the Third Sunday of the Great Fast.
The Prokeimena. These are sung before the epistle reading. One or two can be sung on any given day (see September 9, 2003 for specifics on how these are chanted).
The Epistle Reading. Up to three readings are chanted from the Epistles of St. Paul, the Catholic Epistles, or the Acts of the Holy Apostles.
The Alleluia. It is sung just like the prokeimena and uses the same tones. It always precedes the Gospel reading; the one exception is the Paschal Vigil of Holy Saturday at which "Arise, O God, judge the Earth" is sung.
The Gospel Reading. Up to three readings are taken from the Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The Cherubikon ("Let Us Who Mystically Represent the Cherubim"). This is replaced on Holy Thursday with "Of Your Mystical Supper, O Son of God" and at the Paschal Vigil of Holy Saturday with "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," which also is the usual cherubikon of the Divine Liturgy of St. James, which is rarely celebrated in the Byzantine Tradition, but is used regularly in the Syrian liturgical tradition.
The Megalynarion. This the technical name for the hymn to the Theotokos sung near the end of the anaphora. It comes from the Greek word, μεγαλύνω, which means, to greatly exalt. The last line of most hymns to the Theotokos ends with a form of that word, "σε` μεγαλύνομεν," which translates as "we magnify you." On most days, the song is, "It is Truly Proper to Glorify You." But on certain feasts, it is taken from the ninth ode of matins: it uses the refrain and the irmos of the first or second canon.
The Koinonikon. This is the communion antiphon. This changes for each day and each feast. Sometimes, more than one is specified. It is all that remains of a longer psalm since it once served as the refrain. It consists of a psalm verse (typically) and three alleluias.
Communion and Dismissal Replacements. "Blessed is He Who Comes," "We Have Seen the True Light," "Let Our Mouths Be Filled," "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" and the Doxology ("Glory to the Father...") are replaced with "Christ is Risen" during bright week, and throughout paschal season in the Ruthenian tradition. In Russian style service books, there is some disagreement on whether "Christ is Risen" is used throughout the paschal season beyond bright week for each one these element. The service also ends with "Christ is Risen" and the troparion, "And Unto Us He Has Given Eternal Life." Between Ascension and Pentecost, "Let Our Mouths Be Filled" and "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" are replaced with the text of the Ascension prokeimenon, "Be exalted above the heavens...." On Holy Thursday, "Let Our Mouths Be Filled" is replaced by "Of Your Mystical Supper, O Son of God."
- Resurrectional Troparion
- Festal Troparia
- Resurrectional Kontakion
- "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit." Ideally sung in the tone of the next kontakion. The "Glory" is actually sung before the penultimate kontakion.
- Festal Kontakia
- "Now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." Ideally sung in the tone of the next kontakion.
- The troparion, Steadfast Protectress of Christians
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