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Introduction



Prologue by Gregorios Stathis

Concerning Adaptation

Concerning Notation

Byzantine vs. Western Notation


About the Translation

The History of Byzantine Chant


Writing Byzantine Music


Epilogue by
  Photios Kontoglou


Guidelines for Greek Pronunciation

The Intervals of the Soft Chromatic Modal Genre

The Intonations of the Eight Modes

Sources

Acknowledgements

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Doxologies
Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom
St. Basil's Divine Liturgy
Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts
St. James' Liturgy
Vespers
Orthros
Mysteries
Menaion (Feast Days)
Triodion and Pentecostarion

 

by Gregorios Stathis

Professor of Byzantine Musicology and the Art of Chant

at the University of Athens

 

Preamble

1) Setting words to music in Greek Byzantine Chant

a) Accentuation of words

b) The immediacy of personal offerings to God

c) The clarity and rhythm of words and melody

2) The composition and dissemination of Byzantine chant in "other tongues": in English

a) Composing music in the style of Byzantine chant: the "formulae"

b) Melody and metrophonia

c) Substance and expression of monophonic Byzantine music and its superiority and thus its suitability for worship

For a PDF version of this prologue,
click here. (13 pages, 220 Kb)

For the orginal Greek version of this prologue,
click here. (14 pages, 300 Kb)

 

Preamble

The preparation and publication of the first liturgical book of psalmody in the English language in Byzantine notation by the Holy Monastery of St. Anthony in America—the book entitled The Divine Liturgies as Chanted on the Holy Mountain—is a historical event which brings to mind the salvific event of the day of Pentecost, in the upper chamber of Zion in Jerusalem. The Acts of the Apostles presents this birth of the Church to us as follows:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance… every man heard them speak in his own language… "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" … We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.[1]

In this excerpt from the Epistles, besides the fact that "all were filled with the Holy Ghost" as the Apostles became God-bearers, there is great significance in the repeated usage of the verbs "speak" and "hear" and the nouns "language" and "tongues." For there was a dialogue: the Apostles spoke and every man heard and understood, because they were speaking to him in his own language, in the language "in which he was born." From a more exalted theological standpoint, we realize that He who was speaking through the Apostles was the Holy Ghost, and what was said was "the wonderful works of God."

Two verses from the amazing Doxasticon of the Vespers from the service of Pentecost are the best theological and hymnological bridges between then and now:

…but now tongues have been made wise through the glory of the knowledge of God… now the concord of tongues hath been inaugurated for the salvation of our souls.

All tongues and languages and dialects "are made wise through the glory of the knowledge of God," but also "for the salvation of our souls"; not only then on Pentecost, but now and always. Praising the glory of God presupposes understanding His wonderful works. The purpose of praising God is our own perfection, and therefore our salvation. St. Basil the Great taught this very clearly: "Let the tongue sing, and let the mind search out the meaning of what is being said, so that you 'sing with the spirit and sing with the understanding also.'[2] Do not think that God needs this; rather, He wants to make you worthy to be glorified."[3] This conversation of the faithful with God, which entails glorifying and being glorified in return, has been organized by the tradition of the Church to the highest degree in the Holy Eucharist. This is the Mystery during which Christians allude to the entire divine dispensation for the salvation of the human race and pray, "O our God," that is, "You are our God, may You always be with us." This anaphora, this offering, is accomplished with words, and it must happen everywhere by people in their own tongue, in their own language, in the language "wherein they were born."

The word "now" in the verse of the hymn: "now the concord of tongues hath been inaugurated" is always contemporary and timely; it is the eternal "today." And the use of the word "concord" by the hymnographer is not at all haphazard. It is a musical term that means—despite the many voices that participate—the understanding and mutual understanding, and therefore the offering up of a doxology to God, such that our offering together is, in general, together "as if from one mouth."[4] So even "now" in America, the "tongue has been made wise… and a concord has been inaugurated" for a more appropriate liturgical offering to God with two wings: words and melody. On the one hand, the words, the Greek texts of Orthodox worship, have been translated into English with a new wisdom and have been artfully adapted with great care in this book. On the other hand, the melody, the same Greek melody, the Byzantine and post-Byzantine melody, that clothes the Greek words—since words and melody are consubstantial elements of a soul that praises God—has remained the same and has clothed the same concepts and has given them the same acoustic form. It is as if all heaven and earth, with hymns that are constant, known, and beloved are borne by a "gentle breeze"[5] to sweeten the ears of the faithful throughout the entire world, in the east and west, in the south and north, and from the Holy Mountain Athos to America.

In order that the troparia contained in this book might be better understood in the appropriate style, this prologue will expand into prolegomena in order to include two larger subsections: one regarding the essence of setting words to music in the style of Greek Byzantine chant,[6] and one regarding its translation and dissemination to the English-speaking Orthodox Christians and to every well-intentioned and open-hearted person.

 

*   *   *

 

1) Setting Words to Music in Greek Byzantine Chant

Greek musical expression and tradition is characterized by the terms "Byzantine" and "post-Byzantine." It has passed through the many centuries of Byzantine civilization with an unbroken and uniform continuity. As a form of art, Byzantine music constitutes a manifestation of the Byzantine-Hellenic spirit and civilization; this music was organized around the middle of the tenth century (or perhaps a little earlier) in a complete, independent, whole, and uniform notational system for the most perfect expression possible of the worship of the Eastern Orthodox Church. By taking care to prepare a pious, appropriate music, Orthodox Christians who were Greek and Greek-speaking—Byzantine and post-Byzantine—as well as those who spoke other languages, have created one of the greatest musical cultures in the world: Greek Orthodox music. This music, Byzantine and post-Byzantine, is also a music that has lasted longer than any other known musical culture in the world, as regards its uniform written tradition. The Greek notational system, in the form in which it first appeared (in the middle of the tenth century), is a product of the Greek alphabet and is also an ingenious alphabet of sounds. These two forms of writing that coexist as if they were one (the alphabet of letters and the alphabet of notation) are a tremendous cultural accomplishment by which we Greeks of the entire world are led to self-knowledge and communion with God, and strive for knowledge of God, since it is with words clothed with the garment of melody that we offer prayers to God and speak to Him. Or, to put it differently, writing the Greek letters of the alphabet alongside the Greek musical signs is the most perfect melodic alphabet in the world, which God deigned to be invented and developed by the Greek spirit.

This written and artistic musical Greek culture has lasted a millennium (from the tenth to the twenty-first century), and is the art of setting words to music in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine psalmodic style. The Greeks of this millennium, until the middle of the nineteenth century, were not familiar with any other musical culture except for that of Arabic-Persian music. They were able to keep Arabic-Persian music separate as "foreign" or "ethnic" music—as the music of a foreign race with a foreign religion—without letting it influence their own ethnic and religious musical expression. Thus Byzantine music reached us as it was developed and interpreted by the post-Byzantine Greek teachers, protopsaltes, who were most learned in music, lampadarioi, domestikoi, monks, hieromonks, eloquent clergy, hierarchs, and patriarchs, with an unbroken succession within the unaltered liturgical practice of the Church. It constitutes a patrimonial heritage and monument of art, just like all other monuments of Byzantine art. And it requires on behalf of all of us a careful and pious approach, because it belongs to all of us.

This autonomous Greek musical culture in the domain of Orthodox worship, which has proven to be a garment that shapes the liturgical offering of the people, is the wondrous art of Byzantine chant and its delightful melodic works. Byzantine chant is a vocal art, which is to say, an art rendered only with the voice of man and not with musical instruments; it is a monophonic art that not only does not strive after polyphonic harmonization, but even precludes it due to the nature and operation of the tetrachords and pentachords within which the melody is developed. Consequently, it does not permit polyphonic harmonization.

From these three introductory fundamental attributes—i.e., that this music is 1) vocal, 2) monophonic, and 3) modal (it is developed within the tetrachords and pentachords)—do the following three unequalled, unique virtues of Byzantine chant blossom:

 

First: Accentuation of words.

Byzantine chant, as vocal music, inherently always presupposes the text, and as their most perfect expression its melody becomes the acoustical garment of the text; it shapes and reveals the "meaning hidden in the words," according to the wise expression of St. Gregory of Nyssa: "With melody, the musical poet attempts to explain the meaning of what is being said by intertwining the divine words with an unaffected [i.e., simple] melody as well as a certain intonation of the voice in order to reveal as much as is possible, the meaning hidden in the words."[7] Furthermore, words clothed with melody become pleasant, sweet, and delectable. Words and melody are twin brothers and together are an accomplishment of the human intellect. Which of the two is first and which second? Both came simultaneously! And we know that as humans we gladly accept words that are instilled into our hearts with pleasure and delight—even more so when the words of hymnography are wondrous Greek poetry written by the saints of the Church, as an outcome of their experiential relationship with God and the Theotokos.

As something vocal, psalmody precludes the use of any musical instruments whatsoever, even though instruments, as works of the hands of men, were invented in other times and by people of other religions to express suitably their feelings, to communicate with one another, and to offer their prayers to God. Nevertheless, the more spiritual way to lift one's prayers to God requires unaffected manners; it requires that one open one's heart so that it can be raised to the lips to express itself with the natural instrument—the voice with compunction.

 

Second: The immediacy of personal offerings to God

Speaking with God is a personal matter for each of us; it takes place with words, because God the Word became flesh for us. There is no room for anything else between a person who worships or wants to speak with God, nothing except love. No intermediary is necessary. The relationship is personal. It is the highest honor for man when he is lifted up and finds himself "face to face"[8] with God. In this relationship, the individual completeness of each man and his self-sufficiency are paramount: when a person wants to speak with God with a disposition for confession or for a personal matter that concerns him, it is unnecessary to call someone else or many others to speak with an affected polyphonic melody in accordance with the rules of harmonization. His own voice is sufficient.

For this reason, the melodic line of polyphonic music by itself does not give the impression of being musically complete, nor can one sing polyphonic music by himself. Byzantine chant, of course, does not prohibit chanting together with others—in fact it almost requires it—but it is executed as a concordant expression of one faith and of the same common feelings of praise, doxology, supplication, or compunction that flood the hearts of those who are worshipping. St. John Chrysostom expressed this when he said, "Even though all respond, the sound issues as if from one mouth."[9] Byzantine chant in worship, as an expression of both words and melody, assumes a timeless quality and can be accepted by all. It was created by great melodists over the centuries, and it is relevant to all people from generation to generation.

 

Third: The clarity and rhythm of words and melody.

Monophonic music achieves the greatest possible clarity, since the melody is accentuated according to the accents, twists, and turns of the notation for the most perfect expression of the words. Instruments, especially many together, usually create confusion and destroy the clarity of the words they accompany. Rarely do we understand what is said when the sound of many musical instruments is combined simultaneously with lyrics being sung. The same thing happens with polyphonic choral music, especially when the various voices do acrobatics on lengthy melismas and are interwoven according to the rules of counterpoint. In such cases, the music does not emphasize or highlight the words, but its primary function is to exalt itself, using the words merely as a starting point. Aristotle declared with the wisdom of Ancient Greece that "an ode is to be sung with the accompaniment of one or at most two instruments," primarily by the flute or the lyre. Liturgical music has taken this rule even farther by completely abolishing the use of musical instruments.

Furthermore, words sweetened by a monophonic melody preserve their rhythmic variety, since Byzantine chant is fine poetry, which is based on various rhythmic meters. Chanting various rhythmic meters in brief troparia or developing musical "formulae"—which is what musical phrases are called—creates melodic "arches," so to speak, that form an amazing architectural masterpiece that is raised by successive culminations that match the vaults of Byzantine churches and even the heavens themselves. The clarity and rhythmicality of Byzantine music—i.e., of the more recent and contemporary forms of Hellenic music—are the magical bridges by which we pass from earth to Heaven.

 

*   *   *

 

2) The composition and dissemination of Byzantine chant in "other tongues": in English

Using "another tongue" and speaking in it is a complex and lofty intellectual process. The matter is by no means easy when dealing with literary texts or with fine poetry, since one must balance the clear formulation of the conceptual meaning against the elegance of poetic phrasing. A further difficulty in the domain of hymnography—which by definition is fine poetry, whether it be the Psalms or troparia of any form—is the need for theological precision. Understanding hymnography and successfully remolding it in "another tongue"—in this case, in English—while taking care that the concepts are not only preserved intact but also clothed with the same beauty, is a fruit of divine grace, which inspires the mind and hands of those who meditate day and night on the wonderful works of God. This is the case with the composition and publication of this book The Divine Liturgies in English, in terms of the words that are the Greek poetic text. And herein coexist a remolding of the text—since the melodist also translated—and the preservation of the meaning of the text. The text has been remolded while preserving the shape of the melody, and at the same time the meaning of the text remains unaltered in its own acoustical garment.

This two-fold spiritual feat—that is, the use of another language in which the same concepts and same melody are preserved—leads me to speak about three basic aspects of setting texts to music:

 

First: Composing music in the style of Byzantine chant: the "formulae."

Melopoiia (composing music) is understood as the "art of modes" and the poetic creation of a sound—the melody. Melody, according to the definition of Plato,[10] consists of three elements: words, melody, and rhythm. As an art, melopoiia creates a melody in accordance with the rules of the three fine arts: poetry, music, and rhythmics. The words are the basic element, while the music (as ἁρμονία = melody) and the rhythm (as movement and life-giving impetus) strive to express the "pathos" or feeling of the words in the best way.

In order to write down hymnography as music, a notation was invented in the middle of the tenth century or a little earlier. This notation was the product of the Hellenic-Byzantine spirit and civilization. It was an ingenious system and, as I have already mentioned, literally an acoustical alphabet. It was an offspring of the Greek alphabet, since most of the musical signs are either the initial letter of their name or an abbreviation thereof. The musical signs, as a complete musical development of the accents of Greek writing, indicate even the most subtle and intimate expression of the words, the "pathos" of the words, when together with melody. It is for this reason that the Greek text beneath the Byzantine notation is written without accents.

The musical signs, ever since their first appearance, have been separated into four groups. These groups are divided into two primary categories: the neumatic signs that show us the intervallic distance in ascending or descending, and the soundless neumes that show us the embellishments and the formation of the melody. They are also divided into two other categories, the modulation signs and intonation formulae.

As a poetic act, composing music—melopoiia—carefully selects the signs that will notate and shape the musical ideas like successive musical arches, either small or large, that will raise the acoustical architectural structure of music. Each choice of the necessary signs and their appropriate combination is called a "formula" (θέσις). This is what Manuel Chrysaphes the Lampadarios taught and wisely explained in 1458: "A formula is called the combination of signs that constitutes the melody. Just as the combination of the twenty-four letters of the alphabet creates words when arranged in syllables, in the same way musical signs create the melody when artfully combined, and such a combination is then called a formula."[11] What is meant by the signs that are combined to create a "formula" includes all manner of signs: that is, phonetic signs (ascending and descending), the soundless or hypostases or cheironomic signs, synagma signs, signs of duration, intonation signs (or martyrias of the modes), and signs of modulation.

The formulae are known by various names: either by the name of the soundless neume (e.g., thematismos formula, ouranisma formula, kylisma formula) or by the name of the melody formed (anastama formula, strangismata formula, kolaphismos formula, etc.). The soundless neumes or hypostases are used as guides for the formation of the melody. They operate precisely as their original (i.e., tenth century) name "melodemata" implies.

So every formula of Byzantine chant, when written orthographically correctly in music, is the particular melodic garment of a particular word or concept while also abiding by the rules of grammatical orthography. In fact, it emphasizes and expresses this orthography quite appropriately. Above all, it observes the basic musical rule of enunciating the idiom of the Greek language, in that every accentuated syllable of a word or phrase of the poetic text has a higher pitch than the other unaccented syllables. This means that an accented syllable both grammatically and musically is followed by a descent in the melody or by a repetition of the same pitch followed by a descent. If it were not, it would be improperly accented. This musical accentuation appears clearly when chanting brief melodies.

From this rule proceed all the virtues of setting text to music according to its meaning. The words or concepts that indicate height, ascension, a high mountain, heaven, are set to a melody with high pitches, while the aforementioned orthographical rule is observed. The words or concepts that signify a fall, depth, death, Hades, and in general everything base and mundane, are accordingly set to a melody with low pitches. There is also the changing of tetrachords by genus —from diatonic to chromatic or enharmonic—according to the inflection that the melodist wants to attach to the various poetical concepts. Thus it is easy to discern the most beloved concepts and names, such as God, Theotokos, Son, Savior, Holy Spirit, and the joyful states, such as paradise, rejoicing, joy, salvation, as well as the hideous words, such as Hades, death, sin, darkness, and so on, that are set to a melody in each of the eight modes and in each type of composition: the sticheraric, the heirmologic, and the papadic, as well as in each tempo of chanting, i.e., slow (kalophonic-melismatic), fast, medium, etc. By using melodic formulae, composers instill these concepts in the souls of the listeners so that they are better understood and more permanently retained.

Perhaps now we can understand the twofold work of translation better: the concepts must be preserved and in the same place in the flow of the melody as they are in the original Greek, so that all this power of expression is preserved without resorting to mangling the text or shifting the melodic emphasis to other words or parts of the melody. This is accomplished to a great degree in the work in hand, which has Byzantine words and melody in the English language.

 

Second: melody and metrophonia

The melody that should be chanted based on the visual depiction of a "formula" does not result from merely executing the ascending and descending signs of pitch, but is much more: it entails an entire musical path with a beginning, middle, and end. It is an autonomous melodic arch, which is simply sketched out by the combination of signs (the "formula") and more fully connoted by the soundless neumes.

The "formulae" of Byzantine chant (and the notation in general) constitute a visual depiction of the melody and serve as a reminder of the expressive dynamics they contain. What is heard is the result of the interpretation of all the expressive elements of the notation. This interpretation in the art of Byzantine chant is called exegesis, which in notation ended up being an analysis that was written out with additional phonetic signs. The need for these exegeses triggered the exegetic-transitional period (1670-1814) and led to the final notational reformation in 1814, when the analytical notation, known as the New Method, ensued.

The issue of interpreting notation is immense, and it requires the greater part of a master musician's life. This is an issue that will not be addressed here. However, what must definitely be said about it is that merely executing the ascending and descending signs of pitch is called metrophonia in the theory of Byzantine chant. Metrophonia is simply counting (metro) the change in pitch that each sign indicates. These pitches in each formula indicate the framework within which the melody will be elaborated, in accordance with the indications of the other signs of notation. It is precisely here that Byzantine music is grossly misunderstood by those musicologists who believe that "melody" is equivalent to "metrophonia," the mere execution of the ascending and descending signs of pitch. It is here that Greek Byzantine chant is wronged: instead of being the wondrous art of Byzantine majesty that it is, out of ignorance it is mistaken for an inelegant, artless affectation that results in a very cheap, tasteless, arrhythmic-sounding music. With this lack of proper interpretation, the meaning of the words is lost. Byzantine chant is still suffering from its erroneous interpretation as dry "metrophonia," as mere changes in pitch; it suffers from being forcefully placed on the Procrustean bed[12] of staff notation, where there are only whole tones and half tones, and only the diatonic genus, which are all unable to communicate the subtle intervals and refined sensitivities of Byzantine and post-Byzantine Greek expression. The so-called "Byzantine music" that is transcribed into staff notation and sung in this manner, has little relation to the real melody indicated by the formulae of Byzantine chant.

And here, once again, is the great accomplishment of this book "The Divine Liturgies in English in Byzantine Notation": the genuine "melody" is transmitted and disseminated in the analytical notation of the New Method of 1814—not the dry "metrophonia" of the formulae. Greek Orthodox churches never heard the dry metrophonia as liturgical music. Dry metrophonia is just an exercise for teaching and learning music that is used in the first stage of approaching and recognizing notation, and nothing else. And this is what it must remain.

But even the analytical notation of the New Method is a prescriptive notation. This includes not only the Byzantine and post-Byzantine compositions before it, but also the newer compositions that were originally written with the analytical notation. That is, it suggests the way in which chanters should interpret the various quantitative signs and the expressive effect that the qualitative signs indicate. A steadfast guide in interpreting Byzantine chant is the living, unbroken, 1000-year tradition of Athonite psalmody. This tradition is preserved and recorded in this fine book with Byzantine notation. And this same music has also been transcribed into staff notation in a very useful companion volume, which has also been published under the pastoral care of the Holy Monastery of St. Anthony.

 

Third: substance and expression of monophonic Byzantine music and its superiority and thus its suitability for worship.

The Orthodox worship of the "Living God" is rational worship, in the sense that our offering to and conversation with God, the Theotokos, and the saints is direct, personal, and accomplished with words, since God the Word "was made flesh and dwelt among us."[13] The melody, as a kindred product of the words in all its aspects becomes the acoustical garment of the text. The texts in worship are clearly differentiated into three large categories: Biblical texts (the readings), prayerful texts (the prayers and petitions), and hymnological texts (the Psalms and the many kinds of troparia). With these three categories of texts, all three of which are superb literary works, the dialogue of God and man is performed during worship. "Thus saith the Lord," or "The Lord saith" is intoned in the ekphonetic style, and we the faithful hear the divine words. The priests pray, "We offer unto Thee," "We thank Thee," "And we entreat Thee and beg of Thee," and the chanters respond by chanting, "We hymn Thee, we bless Thee…"—to mention a timely moment from the anaphora of human and divine dialogue during our worship.

The hymnological texts are the par excellence poetic texts of both Byzantine and contemporary Greek hymnography. It is especially these, along with the psalmic hymns of Hebrew poetry, that constitute the hymnographical texts upon which the wondrous Greek Psalmodic Art known as Byzantine chant was developed. Almost all the troparia and psalms have a dual character: they praise and glorify, or glorify and eulogize, etc. This is because the troparia are the fruit of compunction possessed by the holy hymnographers by which they rose above the mundane in order to praise God and His saints worthily. We must realize that it is this compunction of the incensive aspect of our soul that moves our entire being to piety. Compunction starts out as fear, and then later becomes a constant desire, as St. Gregory Dialogos teaches: "When the soul thirsts for God, first it is made compunctious by fear, and then by desire." We feel fear due to our sinfulness and unworthiness, and we feel the desire to be cleansed and counted worthy by God's grace that we might hear "Come, ye blessed of my Father…."[14] We should pause to reflect that most troparia end with the phrase: "and great mercy."

Public or corporate worship takes place in the holy churches with this very same holy disposition of compunction. Thus, ecclesiastical places have their appointed ministers (the priests and chanters) with their hymnography and its kindred music. These places are entirely different from non-ecclesiastical places (theaters, entertainment centers, etc.) which use different words and different music. Mixing or interchanging them is destructive. As St. John Chrysostom says, "Let us go to church with the appropriate piety, lest we return home with even more sins instead of their remission." And he continues: "What is required from us? To send up the divine hymns with great fear and dread and to be adorned with piety while doing so."[15] The monophonic melody of the Byzantine chant is a liturgical melody that springs from the essence of Orthodox worship and expresses in the best way the mystagogical character of worship and its basic element, compunction.

"Two things that gush forth together from the essence of worship to water our souls are the monophonic Byzantine melody (as the garment of the words) and compunction. These two elements know their consubstantiality and express each other perfectly. Thus, the art of Byzantine chant with its three genera, its modulations, and its accidentals—which serve the subtle alterations in its intervals—expresses perfectly the various moods of the soul in its monologues and dialogues with the saints, the angels, the Theotokos, and God. When the souls sighs, weeps, and laments: "Alas, alas, what shall I do!" "Oh, how shall I lament" "Oh, what a difficult hour then" and the like, the melody becomes a compassionate dirge and oftentimes in church opens to the faithful the fountains of tears that bathe them with the waters of sacred emotion. The soul expresses itself with aversion when it mentions the words death, Hades, grave, sin, hell, and corruption, and Byzantine music colors these ghastly words with the same aversion. The soul leaps at the mention of the words paradise, eternal life, delight, divine eros, redemption, salvation. Likewise, Byzantine music uses primarily the diatonic tetrachords of the first and plagal first modes to instill a celestial, ineffable sweetness, in this manner sprinkling our souls that are thus uplifted and aroused by a divine desire. When our souls shrink back in fear not daring to gaze at the height of heaven, they stammer their supplication: "Do not overlook me," "Destroy me not," "Have mercy on me, and save me," "Be gracious unto me, O Savior," "Pardon and save me," or "Deliver me, O God." Then Byzantine Music, with its endless capacity for expression, incarnates the voice of supplication with the appropriate use and alteration of its intervals in accordance with the intensity and depth of the entreaty, and presents it as an immaculate child to God who reaches out his hand to be escorted to the meadows of virtues."[16]

If this is what Byzantine Music is able to accomplish in our worship, blessed are they who hear it and delight in it; blessed are they who are instructed by it into divine mysteries—in Greek and English and in every language and tongue "wherein they were born"—and thrice-blessed are those who know it and chant it with the gift they have been granted from above.

And if with what I have written here, at the opportunity given to me by God's providence through the Holy Monastery of St. Anthony in America, with the blessing of the holy Elder Ephraim, and with the care of Hieromonk Ephraim, who artistically created this entire work, I have managed to demonstrate the expressiveness of monophonic Byzantine chant and therefore its superiority and appropriateness for Orthodox worship, then the only thing left for me to do is to thank God Who provides for the edification of His faithful people.

Gregorios Stathis

Athens, February 19-21, 2006

 

 

 


[1] Acts 2:1-11, KJV

[2] I Cor. 14:15

[3] Homily on Psalm 28, PG 29, 304.

[4] Migne, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 61, col. 315

[5] III Kings 19:12

[6] Taken from the CD: Γρηγόριος Στάθης - Οἱ Μαΐστορες τῆς Ψαλτικῆς Τέχνης, Ἦχος καθαρὸς ἑορταζόντων, Ἀθήνα, 2002)

[7] PG 44,444.

[8] Ex. 33:11.

[9] Migne, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 61, col. 315 (Commentary on I Cor. 14:33 by St. John Chrysostom, Homily 36)

[10] Πολιτεία, 398d

[11] The Treatise of Manuel Chrysaphes, the Lampadarios, edited by Dimitri Conomos, (Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae - Corpus Scriptorium de Re Musica, vol. II, Wien, 1985).

[12] Procrustes was a villainous son of Poseidon in Greek myth who forced travelers to fit into his bed by stretching their bodies or cutting off their legs.

[13] Jn. 1:14

[14] Mt. 25:34

[15] First Homily on Isaiah, PG 56, 99γ.

[16] Γρ. Θ. Στάθη, Μορφολογία καὶ Ἔκφραση τῆς Βυζαντινῆς Μουσικῆς, Ἀθήνα, 1980, σσ. 58-60.