Music

When you sing you pray twice.” With those words St. Augustine famously encouraged the singing of praise to the Almighty.

St. Paul similarly encouraged early Christians to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

Through human voice and communal singing, the Melkite Church offers praise and adoration to Holy Trinity. We do not use musical instruments to accompany our singing, but rather raise our voices to proclaim the doctrines and dogma of the faith.


Recordings


The saying is true: “practice makes perfect.” With that in mind we offer resources for personal listening and training in the rich melodious tradition of Byzantine worship.

A comprehensive collection of recordings of music sung in Melkite Church services, available below and also through the website of the Eparchy of Newton here (scroll down to “Melkite Music“), was recorded by Father Justin Rose, currently serving at St. George Melkite Church in Birmingham, AL.

Hymns of the Divine Liturgy sung in Arabic are available below.


Glossary: Select Byzantine Liturgical & Musical Terms


  • Canon: A canon is a structured hymn consisting of nine odes, based on Biblical canticles, and develops a specific theme, such as repentance or the honoring of a particular saint
  • Eisodikon: A chant sung at the Little Entrance (hē mikra eisodos) during the Divine Liturgy, when the clergy enter in procession with the Gospel lectionary. The Ordinary text of the eisodikon is adapted from Psalm xciv.6a, ‘Come, let us worship’, but other psalm verses are chosen on high feasts of the Church year. 
  • Hirmos (var. irmos or heirmos): The initial troparia of an ode within a canon.
  • Kinonikon (English: Communion; var. koinonikon): A chant sung as the Eucharist is distributed during the Divine Liturgy, derived from the Psalms.
  • Kondakion (var. Kontakion): A thematic hymn which in ancient times represented an extended homily in 18-24 sections, but in modern times is greatly abbreviated, often to one stanza.
  • Orthros: A morning liturgical service whose name denotes the Greek word for dawn or sunrise.
  • Prokeimenon: A psalm or canticle refrain sung responsorially during the Divine Liturgy to introduce a scripture reading according to the tone of the day. Each day’s prokeimenon is determined by rules incorporating the Octoechos. The basic pattern for a prokeimenon follows this structure: (1) the reader chants a single verse of the psalm of the day (often announcing the tone, or standard melody, as well); (2) the entire verse is repeated by the choir or congregation; (3) the Reader chants additional verses (exactly how many depends on local practice), each followed by the choir/congregation singing the first verse in response, (4) the reader concludes the offering of the prokeimenon by chanting again the first half of the first verse, and is joined by the choir/congregation in immediately singing the second half.
  • Theotokion: A hymn honoring Mary, The Mother of God (Greek: Theotokos: Theos – God; tokos – bearer)
  • Trisagion: As translated from Greek, literally, “thrice holy.” During celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the Trisagion is chanted immediately before the Prokeimenon and Epistle reading. It is also included in a set of prayers named for it, called the Trisagion Prayers, which forms part of numerous services and is a common set of prayers used by the faithful during daily prayers.
  • Troparion: As this Greek term is most commonly used, a short hymn, generally of one stanza. A more complex hymn with multiple stanzas may also be referred to as a Troparion.

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Recordings by Father Justin Rose


The Eight Tones
More Recordings by Father Justin Rose

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Music of the Divine Liturgy in Arabic, recorded in Lebanon


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