The Tone 1 Prokeimenon Melody

This melody is used to sing prokeimena in Tone 1, as well as the Tone 1 Alleluia and certain special hymns at Matins which are sung to the prokeimenon melody.

Please note: This is the first prokeimenon melody covered in the MCI Online course, Introduction to the Eight Tones, and this article provides additional background information on prokeimenon melodies It also assumes you are familiar with the material taught in the MCI Online course, Introduction to Church Singing. If you have difficulty reading the music notation, please review the MCI website articles on musicianship.

The Sunday prokeimenon and Alleluia

The tone 1 prokeimenon which is sung most frequently is the prokeimenon of the Resurrection in tone 1, which is sung before the epistle reading every eighth Sunday throughout the year, as part of the cycle of eight tones. It can be found on page 127 in our Divine Liturgies book. This prokeimenon should be memorized.

Listen

The same melody is used to sing the triple Alleluia before the Gospel on Sundays in Tone 1:

Listen

As you can see, these have essentially the same melody. In most tones, the prokeimenon consists of three phrases corresponding to the three Alleluias. A prokeimenon text is usually a single psalm verse, and psalm verses customarily come in two half-verses, so one of these may be repeated when the verse is sung as a prokeimenon.

Both the prokeimenon and Allleluia begin on mi and end on low sol. The transition from each phrases to the next is particularly easy in this tone, since each phrase begins where the previous one ended.

The prokeimenon and Alleluia melodies should always be sung as smoothly as possible. Adjust the length of the breaks between the phrases depending on how closely tied the meaning of each phrase is to the next; in other words, pause for a slightly shorter or longer time as you would when reading the text aloud. Also, remember not to sing the Alleluia too quickly, since it must accompany the deacon's incensing of the Gospel book and the congregation.

The form of the melody

The Tone 1 prokeimenon melody consists of three phrases, which are sung in order, without repetition.

The first phrase begins on mi, the third note of the scale. The accent marks (') show the places where an accented word is commonly placed. The barred whole note indicates a place where additional text may be sung as needed, depending on the length of the phrase.

The second phrase begins on the ending pitch of the first phrase, and ends in the same way as the first phrase:

The third phrase concludes the prokeimenon:

The first two notes may be omitted if the text for the third phrase is very short:

Other examples

See the examples page for more practice in learning this melody.

Singing the prokeimenon verse(s)

Normally, the verses of prokeimena are sung by a single voice using a simple recitative melody. The ordinary choice for this melody is the usual psalm tone, beginning on do. This means that the one singing the prokeimenon verses must start a perfect fourth up from the final note of the prokeimenon:

Listen to the recording of the Sunday prokeimenon to see how this sounds.

The prokeimenon melody at Matins

At Sunday and feast-day Matins, the prokeimenon melody is used for the Matins prokeimenon appointed in the liturgical books, and for two additional hymns: "Let everything that lives and that breathes" and "Holy is the Lord". The latter hymns are always sung in the same tone as the Matins prokeimenon of the day.

"Let everything that lives" is sung just after the Matins prokeimenon, and before the Gospel. When the Matins prokeimenon is in Tone 1, it is sung as follows:

(Notice that the longest form of the second phrase is used here, along with the shortest form of the third phrase.)

"Holy is the Lord" is on Sundays at the end of the Canon. Like "Let everything that lives and that breathes", it is sung to the same tone as Matins prokeimenon. In Tone 1:

In these more intricate settings of the Tone 1 prokeimenon melody, the important thing is to sing the rhythms smoothly and at a good pace. Congregations can learn to sing these quite competently if led by a cantor who sings them clearly and does not let them drag.