“To Jordan’s Water” – understanding the issues with a new hymnal

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.

Continue reading ““To Jordan’s Water” – understanding the issues with a new hymnal”

First steps toward a hymnal

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!

Matins at the Cathedral in Parma

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”

Moleben Monday!

Here is a moleben or prayer service for those suffering from alcoholism and substance abuse; this is an exceptionally good example of a directed service of prayer for healing. The text was provided by Father Valerian Michlik of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, based on texts from the Orthodox Church in Canada; music is by the MCI.

Moleben for Those Suffering from Alcohol or Drug Dependence

Moleben Monday!

This week, as part of our weekly opening of the MCI files, we bring you a moleben or prayer service to Saints Cyril and Methodius, the two brothers from Thessalonika who brought the Gospel to the Slavs in the 9th century AD. This service also includes, as a bonus, an English setting of the hymn Slava vam Brata, or “Glory to you, brothers.”

Moleben to Saints Cyril and Methodius

Look for a complete list of MCI booklets on the Publications page. And if there are particular molebens or other services you would like to see on the MCI website, please leave a comment here!

Hymnal Project

The singing of “paraliturgical hymns” – popular devotional songs – outside the Liturgy is a significant and beloved part of our Church’s tradition. A small appendix of these songs was included in our previous Divine Liturgy book, and several additional collections were published over the years. Unfortunately, the new hymnal which was announced at “forthcoming” in 2006 never materialized.

With the consent of our bishops, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute is undertaking the project of preparing a new hymnal for our church, to be submitted to the Inter-Eparchial Music Commission when it is complete. This hymnal will include hymns to the Trinity, to the Mother of God, and to the saints, chosenfrom material traditionally used in our church, printed with music and set for singing in various languages as appropriate.

Of course, there are a variety of issues to consider. Which hymns should be included?  If there are several translations or melodies in circulation, which one(s) should be used? Would it be appropriate to provide literal (non-sung) translations for traditional Carpatho-Rusyn or Magyar hymns when our current English translation is a very free one?  And so on.

As part of  this project, we will hold several meetings over the next year, as well as a public “hymn sing” on Sunday, October 2, at Saint John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral in Munhall, PA. My goal is to complete a draft hymnal by September 1, 2017.

If  you have suggestions for this project, please comment below!

If you would like to assist in this project or contribute on a continuing basis, please write to mci@archpitt.org.

Two new hymns for Ascension

For your enjoyment and use, two hymns for the Ascension:

1. An English setting of the Ascension hymn, Hospod’ Voznesesja, by cantors Joe Ferenchik and Kenneth Dilks, for singing before or after the
Divine Liturgy.

2. Settings in English and Slavonic of All You Peoples, Clap Your Hands, a paraphrase of Psalm 46 by Prof. John Kahanick, restored by cantor Joe

New Hymns for Pascha!

Christ is risen!

Brother Augustine of the Byzantine Franciscan friary in Sybertsville, PA put together a collection of Paschal hymns, and has graciously allowed the Metropolitan Cantor Institute to post them online. There are hymns in both English (using the current translations of our church) and Slavonic, and include some choral settings as well.

Paschal Hymns

May they contribute to our joy in this Paschal seasaon!

MCI SoundCloud page!

The MCI now has a page on SoundCloud.  This will allow us to share collections of music (chant, choral, and tutorial) that can be listened to or downloaded on a wide range of devices.  I hope to add a couple of tracks every few days, beginning with historical (old) recordings of prostopinije singing and choir music from the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church.

Here are the first two recordings:

1949 – Silver Jubilee of the Pittsburgh Greek-Rite Diocese – Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving, Part 1

1949 – Silver Jubilee of the Pittsburgh Greek-Rite Diocese – Divine Liturgy of Thanksgiving, Part 2

You can click Follow on the MCI SoundCloud page to be informed of new additions.

Please let us know what you think!  And if you, your parish or choir have recordings you would like to make available to other cantors and cantor students, please contact me at mci@archpitt.org.

Presentation: Music of the Great Fast

On Thursday, February 11, I gave a presentation on the music for the Great Fast at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, PA; it was also live-streamed over the Internet.  For those who missed it, here is a recording:

We used the green Divine Liturgies book and the 2010 Presanctified books, along with these handouts:

Two questions keep coming up:

  1. What should we sing at Holy Communion at the Presanctified?
  2. What sort of non-liturgical hymns should be be singing in the Great Fast?

Continue reading “Presentation: Music of the Great Fast”