Songs for the Mother of God, Part 1

The next batch of work for the Hymnal Project will feature spiritual songs in honor of Mary, Theotokos and Ever-Virgin.  Many of these songs are well-known, and some of them have particularly thorny issues involving the text, the music, or both.

In this installment, we will look at the hymns on the project page whose titles (first lines) begin with the letters A-M.

Click on each link for the discussion page, and leave any comments below!

Traditional “English” Christmas Carols

All the spiritual songs we post on the MCI web site include English language versions – but for Christmas there are a collection of primarily “English” Christmas hymns and carols which were added to the Christmas Eve service book at the request of cantors, as text only (no music), so the words would be available for parishes that want to use them:

  • Angels we have heard on high
  • Hark! the herald angels sing
  • It came upon the midnight clear
  • Joy to the world
  • O come, all ye faithful
  • O little town of Bethlehem
  • Silent night

They can be found here. on pages 13-15, and I plan to incorporate them into the proposed hymnal, as you can see here.


  1. I am not convinced ALL of them are needed, or if there are others that should be included.
  2. We should at least consider adding the Rusyn (and perhaps even the Hungarian) texts for Silent night and O come, all ye faithful, since these exist and are sung in some of our parishes.

Your thoughts?

This will wrap up our discussion of Christmas hymns for now, so if you have any suggestions, please make them below!

Spiritual Songs for the Nativity

What are spiritual songs?

For more than ten years, our Church has suffered from the lack of a collection of our spiritual songs (I prefer than term to paraliturgical hymns, although they mean the same thing – music for singing by the people, on spiritual themes, but not part of the Liturgy itself).

Last year, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute was asked by our Music Commission to begin work on such a collection. This project officially starts today, with spiritual songs for the Nativity season, along with hymns for Saint Nicholas and Theophany.

What you can do to help

Here is a list of songs for the Nativity season (from November 14 to January 6) that I am planning to work on over the next  month.  Each each song, these will be a thread on this blog covering its history, versions, music, and translations, along with any known issues we ought to resolve.

Please ADD (in a comment) anything you think should be on this list.

Please COME BACK periodically and add your thoughts on each hymn as the work progresses.

I hope to have a final version of this collection done one week before the feast of the Nativity.

Music for the Nativity Fast
Come, O Jesus (moleben responsory)
The Ancient Prophecies

Saint Nicholas
O Father Nicholas (Otce Nikolaje)
O who loves Nicholas the saintly (O kto kto)

Angels from heaven (So nebes anhel)
Eternal God, through gates of birth (Boh predvichnyj)
God the Lord eternal shows himself to us (Hospod, Boh predvichnyj)
God’s Son is B0rn (Boh sja razhdajet)
Heaven and earth now welcome their Redeemer (Nebo i zeml’a)
In the town of Bethlehem (V Viflejemi novina)
Jesus came from heaven (Spas nas narodilsjaa)
Joyful news to the whole world (Nova radost’ stala)
Joyful tidings come out day (Radost nam sja javl’ajet)
Rejoice, all nations, God has become man (Christos rodilsja)
Wondrous news to the whole world (Divnaja novina)
You three kings (Trije Cari)

The choirs of angels sing (Anhely sohlasno)
To Jordan’s water

What would help you be a better cantor?

Every cantor is different; every parish situation is unique; and we are all learning (or should be!) throughout our lives as cantors.

What y0u help you to be a current cantor?

  • What skills do you need, or need to improve?
  • What would you like to understand better?
  • What texts or music would you like to have, that you don’t have today?

Please post your answers below!

Christ is risen!

Brother Augustine of the Byzantine Rite Franciscan house in Sybertsville, PA provided the Metropolitan Cantor Institute with a book of harmonized music for the Paschal season. Here is a 3-part setting of the alternate “Christ is risen” found on page 171 of our Divine Liturgies book:

The entire book can be found here. Please try singing them and let us know what you think!