The Tone 2 Troparion Melody

This prostopinije melody is used to sing troparia and kontakia in tone 2, as well as tone 2 sessional hymns for which no podoben is appointed in the liturgical books. This article will show you how to sing hymns to the Tone 2 troparion melody.

Please note: This article 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 troparion

The tone 2 troparion which is sung most frequently is the troparion of the Resurrection in tone 2, which is sung every eighth Sunday throughout the year as part of the cycle of eight tones. It can be found on page 130 in our Divine Liturgies book. This troparion should be memorized.

Tone 1 Sunday troparion


In listening to this hymn, you should immediately notice that the rhythm on the "reciting notes" that cover a variable amount of text is very different from chant melodies like the Tone 1 troparion melody. Here, the syllables of each word fall in a steady, regular beat instead of speeding up and slowing down from one syllable to the next. This is a processional rhythm, meant to accompany a steady walking tread, and Tone 2 is one of the melodies uses for processions in our tradition (as we will see below).

The challenge when singing this melody is to make each musical phrase express the meaning of the text. Since you don't have the option of speeding up and slowing down, you must use the other aspects of your voice - volume, stress, timbre, and so on - to show which syllables are accented, and which words are more important.

The form of the melody

The tone 2 troparion melody is one of the simplest troparion melodies; it consists of a single melodic phrase:

Tone 2 troparion schema

This musical phrase is repeated for each section of the text, including the last one. The final note is longer (as shown by a whole note), but there is no need to sing it for a full four beats.

The single repeating phrase

The melody starts on mi, so you will generally be a bit above the ordinary tonic pitch or do; the Tone 2 troparion melody will always sound a little "high." In fact, it never drops down to do, but moves in a narrow range between re and fa.

The changes between one phrase and the next are due to the position of the accented words or syllables in the text being sung. It is possible to sing the Tone 2 troparion melody exactly the same way every time (that is, the second syllable is always a held or half note), and this was often done in Slavonic. But in English, it means there will be frequent accents that sound "bad." So we adjust the beginning of each phrase depending on the pattern of strong and weak syllables in the words being sung.

When the second syllable of the text being sung is accented, it is natural to use a half note for it.


If the third syllable is accented, then either the first quarter note is "doubled":


or the half note is made into a quarter note:


If the fourth or fifth syllable is accented, then the half note almost always disappears, to avoid stopping the motion of the music:


The opening notes of a phrase are called the intonation. Singing this intonation well is a matter of practice, so that you know how the different accents make the melody move until we coming to the reciting tone.

The reciting tone is the part of the phrase where a varying amount of text is all sung on the same pitch. In the troparion melodies in tone 2, tone 5 and tone 8, unlike most other prostopinije melodies, the reciting tone is sung in a pulsed rhythm (like a walking cadence) rather than in the "patter" rhythm of free speech. Listen to the start of this tone 2 troparion in Slavonic for an example.

The cadence in the tone 2 troparion melody consists of a four-note pattern, followed by a three-note pattern. These sorts of ending patterns are very common in prostopinije.


The four note pattern can be used to sing one, two, three or four syllables:

one syllable: example

two syllables:example

three syllables:example or example

four syllables: example

and the three-note part of the cadence can be used to sing two, three or four syllables:


Altogether, the cadence can be used to sing from three to eight syllables of text. If only three syllables are sung, then there is an accent at the start of the four-note pattern, and none on the three-note cadence:


When you look ahead to a cadence in the Tone 2 troparion melody, you should always "see" two important accents - on on the eighth notes, and one on the first quarter note. This will determine exactly how the syllables will fall on the notes. Do NOT slow down for the eighth notes; keep the same basic quarter note rhythm even when the four eighth notes are "articulated" (that is, not slurred, but used to sing different syllables).

Short phrases

Sometimes there are just not enough syllables in a section of text to have an accent on the half note or reciting tone, AND two for the cadence. When this happens, the first note of the reciting tone usually ends up "merging" with the first eighth note of the cadence. Always watch out for this, and identify and practice these phrases before they take you by surprise!


(In the second example, the second accent on "accomplishments" is real, but weak; it should not be emphasized in singing.) Watch out for these short phrases and practice them in advance.

For practice in singing the Tone 2 troparion melody, including particularly long and short phrases, see the examples page.

Singing kontakia in Tone 2

As we will see later, some tones have their own kontakion melodies, but Tone 2 (like Tone 1) is not one of them. All kontakia in Tone 2 are sung to the Tone 2 troparion melody.

Here is the Sunday kontakion in Tone 2:


Trying singing this in such as way as to capture the meaning of the words - the rise and fall of the test - even while keeping the even processional rhythm.

When several troparia are sung - the lesser doxology

When a series of troparia or kontakia are sung (for example, at the end of Vespers, or at the Small Entrance of the Divine Liturgy), the liturgical books direct us to sing the lesser doxology:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen.

before the final troparion or kontakion. If there are two final hymns, "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit" is sung before the first one, and " now and ever and forever. Amen." is sung before the second one. The rule is that these are always sung to the melody of the troparion that comes next - and for troparia and kontakia, they are sung to a shortened form of the very same melody.

So before a single ending troparion or kontakion in Tone 2, we would sing:


If the next-to-last troparion or kontakion is in Tone 2, then immediately before it we sing:


If there are two final troparion and the last one is in Tone 2, we sing:


Music for these can be found in the Divine Liturgies book, and also in the MCI Cantor Verses book. These should be memorized.

Hint: you can always look at the start of the troparion or kontakion to help you remember how the Glory... or Now and ever... starts.

A special case: "The noble Joseph"

The following troparion is sung at Vespers on Great and Holy Friday, during the procession with the plashchanitza or burial shroud which symbolizes the body of Christ:

This troparion is sung slowly and solemnly, but must not be allowed to drag. It should have a great deal of intensity (not the same as volume) from beginning to end.

Then, on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers (second Sunday after Pascha), we commemorate the efforts of Joseph of Arimathea more, but add "the rest of the story" to the troparion:

Tone 1 Sunday troparion

Now, the same troparion must be sung a good bit faster, with joy and gladness, while still keeping a certain amount of intensity in the singing. It is important to be able to sing the Tone 2 troparion melody at a range of tempos, correctly and with feeling..

Other uses of the melody

At Matins, "The Lord is God" is always sung to the melody of the troparion that follows it. Here it is in tone 2 (Sunday Matins book, page 99):


Learning the melody