The Tone 2 Samohlasen Melody

This is the common melody for singing stichera in tone 2. It consists of two parts, one for the psalm verse and one for the sticheron itself.

Please note: This article assumes that you are familiar with the material taught in an MCI Online course, Introduction to Church Singing. If you have difficulty reading the music notation, please review the MCI website articles on musicianship.

Two Sunday stichera in Tone 2

At Vespers on Saturday evening, while the church is incensed and the lamps are lit, we sing a number of hymns called stichera in honor of the Resurrection; these are inserted after the last few verses of Psalms 129 and 116, and are sung in the Tone of the Week.

Here is the second sticheron in Tone 2:


The melody consists of four parts, which we call A, B, C, and F (meaning final). For a longer sticheron, we repeat the A, B, and C phrases in order, as many times as necessary:


This is the samohlasen sticheron melody in Tone 2. It is used for singing any sticheron in Tone 2 that is not marked with a special melody (podoben)

The sticheron melody

The samohlasen sticheron melody in Tone 2 consists of three phrases, repeated in a regular order, and followed by a concluding phrase. This is a step up in complexity from the troparion and kontakion melodies, which have either one repeating phrase, or two alternating phrases. When a melody has more than two repeating phrases, you have to get used to the entire cycle of repeating melodies, each of which leads into the next.

The A phrase:

is followed by a B phrase

which is followed by a C phrase

After any of these, we can go to the final (F) phrase, which is sung as follows:

The "falling" notes at the end are a memorable characteristic of this melody.

Singing the A phrase

All four phrases pf this melody have the same basic components: an intonation which begins the phrase; a reciting tone which is used to sing a variable amount of text; a preparatory note to signal the approach of the cadence; and the cadence itself which ends the phrase.

Here is the A phrase, with these parts marked:

The notes of the intonation may be slurred together, or the first note repeated, so that the accent falls on the beginniing of the reciting tone.

Any text on the reciting tone is sung in the rhythm of ordinary speech, smoothly and evenly, moving by groups of two and three syllables.

The preparatory half note signals the end of the reciting tone, and the start of the cadence; it can be divided into two quarter notes if necessary.

The entire phrase should be sung smoothly, and (if possible) on a single breath. At the end of the phrase, pause briefly to take a breath, then sing the next phrase. The length of this pause will depend on the meaniing of the text being sung. (Try speaking it aloud, and notice that you naturally pause longer at the end of a sentence than in the middle of one, with the pause for a comma or semilcon somewhere in between.)

Singing the B phrase

Like the A phrase, the B phrase consists of an intonation, reciting tone, preparatory note, and cadence:

The B phrase has an alternate form which is used for very short text phrases; it drops the first two notes and starts on the half note:.

Here we also see an example where the middle half note of the cadence is split into quarter notes.

Singing the C phrase

The C phrase has the same parts as A and B:

Now that we've seen all three repeating phrases, let's look at the transition from each to the next:

So new let's look at the final phrase.

Singing the final (F) phrase

The final phrase ascends to the highest note in the sticheron, then falls away:

When you practice stichera in Tone 2, make sure you can find the starting note of the F phrase, regardless of which phrase (A, B, or C) came before it.

The verse melody

Here is the samohlasen verse melody in Tone 2. It starts on the ending note of the sticheron melody, and has the same "falling" conclusion.

Here is two examples, from the Lamplighting Psalms of Vespers:


BE CAREFUL when singing the Bb in this melody; there is a strong temptation to raise it a half step to make it sound like la - ti - do rather than mi - fa - sol.

Listen carefully to the recordings for this note.

Putting the two parts together - the Sunday dogmatikon in Tone 2

The last sticheron at the Lamplighting Psalms on an ordinary Saturday evening is called a dogmatikon, because it highlights the dogma or teaching of the Incarnation. Here is the tone 2 dogmatikon, set to the Tone 2 samohlasen melody. The verse is given, followed by the sticheron. Notice how each phrase flows into the next, and how the different text phrases change the way each phrases adapt to different F phrases are used.



Learning the melody

To learn the melody, practice singing the material on the examples page.