The demise of metropolitancantorinstitute.org

metropolitancantorinstitute.org is the old name for the MCI website.  We moved all the content to mci.archpitt.org when the MCI web pages were shifted to the Archeparchy’s own webserver, way back in 2014.

As of January 16, 2020, we are dropping the old domain name, and metropolitancantorinstitute.org will no longer be forwarded automatically to mci.archpitt.org.    Please update any bookmarks to point to the new address (the rest of  the URL remains the same).

Feel free to add a comment here if you have any questions.

Making the Grade: Final MCI graduate under the “old” program

From 2001 to 2014, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute held Saturday chant classes in Pittsburgh, covering a different topic at each class.  Over a multi-year rotation, cantors learned  necessary skills, and received a certificate for finishing the full course of study.  Eventually, we added an in-person “final exam” in the form of a cantored Divine Liturgy at which an MCI instructor could see, comment on, and “sign off” that a student had in fact learned the skills we tried to teach.

So it is with great happiness that I can congratulate Mary Benedict, cantor of Saints Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Erie, PA.  Mary is the last cantor to complete the “old” MCI program, having regularly driven to Pittsburgh to attend classes, and completing her final examination in 2019.

Here is a list of graduates of the Metropolitan Cantor Institute program. As we move from occasional classroom courses to online, year-round education for cantors, I would like to recognize all those cantors and cantor-students who traveled to the Byzantine Catholic Seminary throughout the fall, winter, and spring to learn the art of church singing and chant leadership.

2006
Marylyn Barone
Henry Zolyak
Mary Caryl Planiczki
Steven Puluka
George Mihalick
Delcine Caddy
Stephen Petach

2007
Mary Frances Zadzilko
Nicholas J. Nagrant
Diane Ryan Oravecz

2008
Jeff Mierzejewski
Michael Oravecz
Ann Pawluszka

2011
Saundra Frankowski
Marilyn Hertenstein

2016
Tom Rodack

2019
Mary Benedict

(and if you know anyone who should be on this list but isn’t, please add their name below in the comments!)

Finally, I would like to thank J. Michael Thompson, first director of the MCI, who put together this multiyear program and saw it become a reality.

Congratulations, 2019 MCI Students!

The following students have successfully completed MCI Online courses in 2019.

Introduction to Liturgy
David Boney
Sidney Cline
Lawrence Coleman
Steve Doucet
Stephen Farlow
A Gerling
Stephen Hilgendorf
Gregory Hrinda
Diane Hvasta
Michael Katalenich
Seraphima Kemner
Sophia Kemner
Corey Knick
Nicholas Mataya
Jacob Moylan
Scott Romanoski
Sam Schroetke
Naomi Sweetman
Olivia Whitlock
William Wilson
Patricia Yamrick

Introduction to Church Singing
Michael Katalenich
Sam Schroetke
Russell Ward

Introduction to the Typikon
Gregory Hrinda
Michael Katalenich
Jacob Moylan
Scott Romanoski
Olivia Whitlock
Patricia Yamrick

Reading in Church
Robert Dillon

Introduction to the Divine Liturgy
Robert Dillon
Maria McKay
Mike Schulz
Colin Ventralla
Judith Walsh

Introduction to the Eight Tones
David Hennessy
Michelle Rubush
Ron Somich
Susan Tate
Colin Ventralla
Judith Walsh

The Liturgical Year (new class)
Sherill Franklin
Susan Kopko
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Amy Seyfried

The Divine Liturgy
Sue Ann Rudolphy

The Office of Vespers
Sherill Franklin
Judith Walsh

Mastering the Eight T0nes
Sherill Franklin

The Great Fast and Holy Week (new class)
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Andrea Riley
Amy Seyfried

From Pascha to All Saints (new class)
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Andrea Riley
Amy Seyfried

Services for the Living
Sue Ann Rudolphy

Hierarchical and Reader Services
Matthew Minerd

Services for the Departed (new class)
Robert Bartz
Sherill Franklin
Mary Hendricks
Steve Petach
Milan Revilak
Julia Revilakova
Andrea Riley
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Amy Seyfried
Patricia Yamrick

Services of Christmas and Theophany (new class)
Matthew Minerd
Julia Revilakova
Andrea Riley
Sue Ann Rudolphy
Amy Seyfried
Patricia Yamrick

Congratulations to all!  For more about MCI Online classes in 2020, see here

(By the way, the classes page now includes the total number of students who have completed each class.)

A Christmas present: Three new Cherubic Hymn settings in English

It has been more than 12 years since the promulgation of our present Divine Liturgies book, and what looked like an enormous number of musical settings of the Cherubic Hymn (ten of them!) now make up the basic repertoire in many parishes.

With than in mind – and considering the enormous number of such settings in Slavonic – I would like to offer the three possibilities for new settings in English, to give us greater opportunities to expand our plain chant in English, making use of Slavonic melodies which are already well know.   I hope to teach these at the eparchial workshops planned for next year, and they are also keyed to the versions of the base hymns in the Hymnal Project (which will also be covered at next year’s workshops).

Continue reading “A Christmas present: Three new Cherubic Hymn settings in English”

A Book of Hours for our church

For our round of daily liturgical prayer, there are a lot of possible needs: books for clergy and people, church and home, with or without music. Until now, it’s taken a LOT of work to find pray-able editions of these books, especially ones that use our translations and music.

Earlier this year, the Seminary Press asked me to prepare new editions of the MCI Sunday Matins and Vespers books, and perhaps add new books for daily services.  Instead, I’ve submitted a proposal for a full set of books for the Divine Praises – one which I think will meet quite a few different needs.

Here is the proposal as it stands.  I hope to begin working on it later this month.

1. Service book for Vespers (done): clergy texts, complete rubrics, with details for Sunday evenings in Lent, Great and Holy Friday, and Vespers with Divine Liturgy.

2. Service book for Matins: clergy texts, complete rubrics, with details for Paschal Matins

3. Horologion, Vol. 1: The Greater Hours: Vespers and Matins for church or home, ordinary + octoechos (partial for Matins) + commons of saints – basically enough to do SOME sort of Vespers and Matins on any ordinary day

4. Horologion, Vol 2: The Lesser Hours: Hours and Compline for church or home – ordinary + troparia/kontakia  for the year – enough to do Hours and Compline on almost any day of the year.

5. Horologion, Vol 3 (maybe): Midnight Office, with octoechos

6. Musical supplements for Vespers, Matins, and Hours: one book each (the previous books are WITHOUT music, except for a very few things like O Joyful Light; instead, texts are pointed for chanting) – Vespers, Matins, Hours and Compline on any ordinary Sunday or weekday could be sung using just one supplement

7. Liturgical Psalter

8. Prayer book (material from the Horologion not included above: morning and evening prayers, Akathists, Paraklis, Molebens, preparation for Confession and Communion, explanation of the Jesus Prayer)

What do you think?

Draft hymnal is done!

The draft version of the new hymnal is complete (for now) and has been sent to the Inter-Eparchial Music Commission for their review and improvement.

Here is the version that was submitted: Hymnal – draft – 2019-11

Formatting will be cleaned up a bit more before publication. In the meantime, if you find any errors or infelicities, please let me know and I will make sure they are fixed in the final version.

A Vesper Book for Priests and Deacons

One of the perennial issues with creating liturgical books here at the MCI is the whole question of how many  books per service, and what goes in them.  A book with everything for the cantor and people?  Cantor music in a separate book?  What about a book without music for parishes that want to reduce printing costs?  And of course, what about all the priest’s prayers and the detailed rubrics – where do those go? Continue reading “A Vesper Book for Priests and Deacons”

New books for Lenten Sunday Vespers!

I am pleased to announce updated versions of two books from the Metropolitan Cantor Institute:

The Order of Vespers on the Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare Sunday) and the Sundays of the Great Fast

This book (88 pages) contains the complete service of Vespers on Cheesefare Sunday afternoon and on the five Sundays of the Great Fast – everything but the saints’ stichera, which change from you to year.

The Order of Vespers for the Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare Sunday)

This book (28 pages) contains ONLY the service for Vespers on the afternoon of Cheesefare Sunday, along with the service of mutual forgiveness (which is also in the larger book for the entire Fast). This smaller book does not include the stichera of repentance in the Eight Tones, or any saints’ stichera, so it is exactly the same from one year to the next.

What’s new about these books?

  • They use more current translations of Vespers, matching the Divine Liturgies and Presanctified books wherever appropriate – both text and music.
  • Music is provided for all psalm verses at the Lamp-lighting Psalms and aposticha, so there is no need for a second book, or large leaflets with this music.
  • The formatting has been vastly improved, and I intend to use the same style (perhaps with further improvements) for the other MCI Vespers books as they are revised.
  • Music has been smoothed out where necessary, and typos have been corrected.

For parishes that celebrate Sunday afternoon Vespers several times during the Great Fast, I recommend the larger book, while parishes that celebrate ONLY Forgiveness Vespers might want to stick to the smaller one. Both books are intended for printing in booklet form on legal size paper. Here the the prepared booklet versions:

The Order of Vespers on the Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare Sunday) and the Sundays of the Great Fast – camera ready version

The Order of Vespers for the Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare Sunday) – camera ready version

One thing these books do not include is the text of the prayers said privately by the priest, such as the Prayers of Light, as well as detailed rubrics for celebration. Rather than putting these in every single MCI book for Vespers (and having the cantor and congregation have to leaf past them), we have created a NEW book containing the priest’s and deacon’s parts of Vespers – both Great and daily Vespers, AND the rubrics for Vespers with the Divine Liturgy, the All-Night Vigil, and Great and Holy Friday.  Watch for a blog post coming soon!

Changes to MCI music in 2019

It’s been twelve full years since the new Divine Liturgy books were published and distributed, and fifteen years since the MCI began regularly distributing music for liturgical services.  With that in mind, I am planning on making a few changes in the coming year.

Communion Hymns – starting in 2005, the MCI distributed music for liturgical Communion Hymn of the day using a full assortment of the various Cherubic Hymn melodies, in order to help cantors and congregations learn them.  But we are long past that point, and so in the New Year, the MCI will only print the TEXT of the Communion Hymn(s) of the day, allowing the  cantor free choice of which melody to use. The exception for now will be a few feast days where the green book has a very specific seasonal melody to use; for now, these will be left in the propers.

Remember that the Cantor’s Companion has a table of ALL the Communion Hymns, and where they can be found in the Divine Liturgies book to each of the different Cherubic Hymn melodies.  You can also use this handout.

Vespers – the current MCI Vespers books were prepared in 2005-2006, and don’t always match the texts, music and rubrics in  our 2007 Divine Liturgies book and 2010 Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts book.  In the coming year, ALL the MCI Vespers books will be getting a much needed revision to match official texts and  correct various typos and infelicities which have been noted over the years.  Stay tuned!

The Hymnal Project – this will continue through 2019, and with luck a draft will go to the Music Commission next Fall.  Watch the blog!

The Harmonization Project – as part of our work toward chant and church music revitalization, in January we will be launching a project to make available harmonized (3- and 4-part) settings of plain chant and spiritual songs, along with materials to help teach and learn choral singing in church.

New music – there is at least some music which we might fruitfully introduce, now that most parishes are used to what is in our Divine Liturgies books (after ten years, I can’t call them new!).  For example, there are settings of the Cherubic Hymn into English which might be added to our repertoire, as well as complete collections of all the Communion Hymns set to each melody. This will probably be a project for later in the year, but I would welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

Online classes – these will continue.  The introductory courses in liturgy and church singing can be taken for free, and I am adding one in the history of our chant.  The remaining courses follow a regular schedule, and can be completed in two years from beginning to end, at a cost of about $35  per month.  Classes on reading in church, the liturgical year, and music for the Great Fast start on January 7.  See the classes page for more information.

As you can see, we have a lot going on – but the goal here is the glorification of God through the singing and worship in our parishes.  Christ is born!

Hymnal roundup: Christmas and Theophany

So the first part of the forthcoming hymnal – material for Christmas and Theophany – is basically complete, and the results are available online in the second edition of the Byzantine Catholic Hymnal for Nativity and Theophany.  Take a look!

There are a couple of pending issues on these:

In the town of Bethlehem could use a new translation, one which includes more than just two of the seven Slavonic verses, avoids bad accents, and which keeps the poetic conceit of ending each verse with some sort of the name, “Mary.”

Jesus came from heaven – I would love to have a complete singable setting of Spas naš narodilsja, which also avoids the theological issues of “Jesus coming from heaven.”

Jasna zorja – this uses the tune of Silent Night, but has a different text. I would like to include this in the hymnal, but in general nothing goes in with a non-English text unless there is also a translation provided (whether singable, as a separate hymn, or a literal English translation to put beneath the Rusyn Slavonic hymn.  Anyone out there who can provide either a literal translation, or some history on this hymn, please drop me a note at mci@archpitt.org!

Silent Night – there IS a literal translation into Magyar (which I have) and one into Slavonic (which I don’t – or rather, the only text I have isn’t clear on how to match the text to the melody). Can anyone provide a text for Ticha noč, or text and music, that have been in actual use?

I am starting to fill in the tables at The Hymnal Project with things to work on for the Great Fast (which we will start on in January), Pascha (March-April), the Mother of God (May-June), and the saints and lesser feasts (July-August). God willing, by September we should have something to hand off to the Music Commission, and perhaps be able to publish it for next Christmas. As always,  your suggestions are welcome!