A paraliturgical hymn that was sung recently in many of our parishes, “To Jordan’s Water”, illustrates several of the issues we are facing with a new hymnal for the Byzantine Catholic Church.
At the request of the Inter-Eparchial Music Commission, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute is sponsoring initial work on a hymal – that is, a collection of paraliturgical hymns for singing before and after the Divine Liturgy, and on other church occasions as well.
On Saturday, October 2, 2016, we held a workshop on paraliturgical hymns at which we sang through a variety of our hymns, and discussed what might go into the proposed hymnal. A complete recording of this workshop is now available, along with the handout that was distributed.
Please take a listen, and if you have thoughts on the subject, or things you’d like to suggest go into the new collection, please leave a comment here!
The Metropolitan Cantor Institute will offer the following online courses in 2017:
Introduction to Liturgy – February 12 to April 7, 2017
An 8-week introduction to the liturgical services and traditions of the Byzantine Rite. The course will cover the liturgical day and week, fixed and moveable feasts, the Divine Liturgy and holy mysteries. This is an introductory course that establishes liturgical knowledge for further cantor education. (No singing component.) Tuition: $50.
Introduction to Church Singing – February 12 to April 7
An 8-week course that covers the fundamentals of plain chant: musical scales and notation, ear training, basic vocal technique, and the simplest chant melodies: singing on a single pitch, chanting to the usual psalm tone, and singing basic responses such as “Amen” and “Lord, have mercy.” Students will record their singing for review and feedback. Tuition: $75. Continue reading “Online Courses for 2017”
Every Sunday morning, parishioners of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Parma, Ohio pray full Matins, led by the harmonized chant of eight fellow parishioners, most of them seasoned cantors.
What began as a special initiative to offer Vespers every Sunday evening during the Great Fast, blossomed into an ongoing commitment to chant weekly Matins.
Father Andrew Summerson, who leads the singers and who serves as parochial vicar, said some parishioners had approached him with the desire to continue offering the same quality chant they had offered during the Great Fast during Holy Week and Pascha.
Thus began the cathedral singers, who after Pascha, took on Matins, which are now sung entirely in English. Continue reading “Matins at the Cathedral in Parma”
Earlier this year, the MCI announced plans to put together an up-to-date roster of our cantors, so that we can provide then with regular news and continuing education. It soon became clear that the lists we had were woefully out of date, and before collecting contact information, we first needed to identify the current cantors in each parish. So we have created this new web page.
Look here for an explanation of the categories of cantor, assistant cantor, student cantor, and retired cantor. These categories help us determine what each singer needs to know how to do, and also lets us assess the relative needs of each parish.
Pastors and cantors, please send any updates or corrections to Deacon Jeffrey Mierzejewski (firstname.lastname@example.org) by January 15.
Christ is born!
The liturgical calendar for 2017 is now on the MCI website. Please be aware that this year, I am planning to update some of the proper music for fix typos, correct some bad phrasing, and so on. Whenever older music is updated in this way, I will add “Last modified on <date>” on the bottom of the first page.
Cantors should also order (and learn to use!) the annual typikon from the Byzantine Seminary Press:
This booklet has detailed directions for the hymns to be sung at each major Divine Liturgy in the year. In January, the MCI will put explanatory and practice material to help you learn to use the typikon.
Throughout the history of our church, there has sometimes been competition for “pride of place” between congregational singing of plain chant, and the singing of choirs (whether of harmonized chant, or of choral masterworks). The singing of our notable choirs has not only added beauty to our church in the past; it can also be used in the present to enhance and supplement our congregational singing, and show us how chant was understand or harmonized in the past. And where choirs can be re-founded or formed, they can provide opportunities to train singers in the liturgical services of our rite, and add social activities based in the parish community.
With that in mind, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute has been working with the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh for some time to collect information and recordings from the principal choirs of the Byzantine Catholic Church. Now we are turning to you for assistance. We are particularly interested in the following choirs and their directors: Continue reading “YOUR HELP REQUESTED: Remembering our choirs”
For many years, cantors who received comprehensive cantorial training in Europe were known in this country as “professors.” These men led church singing, taught religion classes, directed plays, and often organized church services when clergy were scarce. Over time, other particularly influential cantors were also called by the title, “Professor.”
In order to better preserve and foster our chant tradition, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute has been working with the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh to collect information about these important leaders in our church. Now we are turning to you for assistance. We are particularly interested in the following cantors: Continue reading “YOUR HELP REQUESTED: Remembering our professors”
COURSES FOR CERTIFICATE CREDIT:
The Word of Life: Seven Characteristics of the Bible for Byzantine Christians (Fr. Deacon Daniel Dozier, Word of Life Institute)
This course explores the central place of the Bible (Sacred Scripture) in the life and mission of the Church. Drawing on the rich liturgical, catechetical and patristic traditions of Byzantine Christianity, we will identify Seven Characteristics of the Bible: the Word of God, the Church’s Book, a Book of Books, a Story of Stories, a Ladder of Mysteries, a Book of the Liturgy and a Disciple’s Handbook. By completing this course, students will be able to identify some of the ways that biblical texts, imagery, stories and allusions both form and inform what we believe (doctrine), how we worship (liturgy) and our spiritual lives (discipleship) in the Church.
Plainchant in the Byzantine Catholic Church (Jeff Mierzejewski, Metropolitan Cantor Institute)
This course will examine the prostopinije, or plainchant, of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church. Prospective students who already participate in the Byzantine Catholic Church will have the opportunity to broaden and deepen their understanding of our liturgical chant, and how it is used in our services. Students from other churches or disciplines will be provided with a living example of a complete system of liturgical chant, and learn how it has been used in the past, and is used today.
COURSES FOR COLLEGE CREDIT:
Theology of the Divine Praises (Fr. David Petras, Professor Emeritus)
This course will survey the theological, spiritual and historical elements of the Liturgy of the Hours in the Christian church.
Any cantor who is interested in serious study of our Scripture, liturgy, and music should consider taking one of these course somes time. For more information, or to register, go to online.bcs.edu.
In September, reader’s courses were held at our cathedrals in Munhall, PA and Parma, OH. Thanks to Fr. Andrew Summerson, the Parma classes were professionally recorded, and those recordings are now available along with the class handouts:
Web link: Lectionary
Handout: Introduction to the Books of the Bible
Handout: Tones for Chanting Psalms and Readings
Handout: Tones for the Prokeimenon and Alleluia Verses
Handout: Text of Psalm 50
Handout: Practice readings
As always, materials from previous MCI courses can be found here.