Holy Week follow-up: your input requested

Christ is risen!

Now that everyone is (hopefully) recovered from Holy Week and Pascha, I would like to solicit cantors’ feedback on the books and music for Holy Week with the feast of the Annunciation.  Was there anything you found particularly tricky?  What went well, and what could be improved?  (I am asking because we can hope to have new Holy Week books for next year that match the texts and music from the DIvine Liturgies and Presanctified books; but final details have yet to be worked out.) Please send any input you may have to mci@archpitt.org.  Thank you!

Chant Notes: April 4-10, 2016

We have completed the weeklong celebration of Pascha, the Resurrection of our Lord, and on the Sunday after Pascha, also called Thomas Sunday, we restarted the cycle of eight tones with Tone 1.  We will continue the eight week cycle of eight tones, one per week, until next Palm Sunday, 2017.

Continue reading “Chant Notes: April 4-10, 2016”

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.

Chant Notes: March 6-13, 2016

This is the fifth week of the Great Fast, a week that is dominated by the singing of the Great Canon of Repentance of Saint Andrew of Crete, and two days dedicated to holy women: Saturday, to the Mother of God, and Sunday, to Saint Mary of Egypt.

Continue reading “Chant Notes: March 6-13, 2016”

Holy Week and Annunciation, 2016

This year, the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) falls on Great and Holy Friday. When this happens, the hymns for the eve of the feast are added to the celebration of Vespers with Divine Liturgy on Great and Holy Thursday, and Vespers with the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated on the evening of Great and Holy Friday. This is the only time a Divine Liturgy is ever celebrated on Friday of Holy Week.

The bishops of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh have promulgated a pair of books with music to be used at these services. Copies of these books are being provided to each parish. On March 3, a two-hour presentation on these books and the music they contain was given in Pittsburgh. Here are the audio recordings of this presentation, for those who could not attend or see the live Internet feed of the presentation.

The Inter-Eparchial Liturgical Commission has recommended that parishes which celebrate Matins for Great and Holy Friday (the Service of the 12 Passion Gospels) include the matins Gospel of the Annunciation (Luke 1:39-49,56) between the seventh and eighth Gospels of the Passion, and add the commemoration of the Annunciation to the final dismissal. The MCI has prepared a leaflet with this recommendation.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Music for Holy Week, Part 2

This is the second part of a two-hour presentation at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral in Munhall, PA, on the books to be used this year for Vespers with the Divine Liturgy on Thursday and Friday of Great and Holy Week, when the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) falls on Great and Holy Friday.

This part of the presentation talks about the book for Great and Holy Friday. This handout showing the structure of the services, and copies of the new books, were used during the presentation. The new books are not available in PDF format, but copies are being distributed to all parishes in the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church in the United States.

Music for Holy Week, Part 1

This is the first part of a two-hour presentation at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral in Munhall, PA, on the books to be used this year for Vespers with the Divine Liturgy on Thursday and Friday of Great and Holy Week, when the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) falls on Great and Holy Friday.

This part of the presentation talks about the promulgation of the new books and goes through the book for Great and Holy Thursday. This handout showing the structure of the services, and copies of the new books, were used during the presentation. The new books are not available in PDF format, but copies are being distributed to all parishes in the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church in the United States.

Music for Holy Week and Annunciation – IMPORTANT

This year, the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) falls on Great and Holy Friday.  When this happens:

  1. The service of Vespers with Divine Liturgy on the evening of Great and Holy Thursday includes hymns (stichera) for the eve of the Annunciation.
  2. The service of Vespers on Great and Holy Friday has a Divine Liturgy added  to it, and there are hymns and readings for the Annunciation as well as for Great Friday.

In 2005, our bishops provided books for these services; unfortunately, the results were not what they could have been because

  • the materials were supplements, directing priests, cantors, and faithful to switch back and forth between the usual Holy Week books and the supplements
  • there was a mix of old translations, and the new ones that would be promulgated in 2007
  • new music was released with very little time to prepare

Over the past year, the Inter-eparchial Liturgy and Music Commissions prepared complete service books for these two services, matching what is in the green Divine Liturgy books for the two Divine Liturgies, and for the Annunciation. The translations are consistent throughout.  That means that for a small number of stichera, the books use a new translation of the hymns for Great and Holy Thursday and Great and Holy Friday, with musical settings by the Inter-Eparchial Music Commission. These books are being send to each parish in the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church over the next week or so.

On THURSDAY, March 3, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute will give a two-hour presentation on these services and the service books that are being distributed, teaching the new music and showing cantors how the books can be used most effectively.  I STRONGLY encourage all cantors in the Greater Pittsburgh area to attend this class, which will be held at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, PA from 7-9 PM Eastern.

This class will also be live-streamed on the cathedral website at

http://www.stjohnsbyzantinecathedral.com/cathedral/live

though I cannot predict how usable the audio will be.  Therefore, we will also be recording the class and post the audio and additional materials on the MCI website at mci.archpitt.org.

CANTORS: please set aside some time to prepare for these services.  They are among the most solemn of the year, and I think you will find the music and books are quite usable (and even make sense!) IF you prepare adequately. As always, if you have questions, please write me at mci@archpitt.org;  and questions of general import will be posted with their answers on the MCI website.

P.S. I do not currently have PDF files for these service books. They will be posted if I can get access to them in advance of Holy Week.