The Tone 3 Prokeimenon Melody

This melody is used to sing prokeimena in Tone 3, as well as the Tone 3 Alleluia.

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 prokeimenon and Alleluia

The tone 3 prokeimenon which is sung most frequently is the prokeimenon of the Resurrection in tone 2, 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 137 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 3:

Listen

Unlike the Tone 1 and 2 prokeimenon melodies, the Alleluia melody is a little different from the one for the prokeimenon: the first phrase of the prokeimenon melody is not used. But both melodies start on mi, and this is vital to starting each melody correctly. Remember not to sing the Alleluia too quickly, since it must accompany the deacon's incensing of the Gospel book and the congregation; this is easy to do with such a short Alleluia melody.

The form of the melody

The Tone 3 prokeimenon melody consists of three phrases, which are sung in order, without repetition.

The first phrase begins on mi, and it is important for this to be a nice, bright third degree of the scale. The whole step drop to re will show the congregation that you are not starting on do (where there would be only a half step down to the next degree of the scale). As if to make doubly sure, the mi - re is repeated to end the first phrase:

The second phrase starts with one more mi - re, descends to do, then climbs smoothly up to fa:

The third phrase goes even higher, to sol, before descending to end on re:

Compare the second and third phrases of the prokeimenon to the Alleluia melody:

By the way: the accidental sharp that raises do to di has the effect of delaying a resolution in the melody. Since the Liturgy is continuing, the prokeimenon and Alleluia lead musically into what comes next. Both the di and the ending on ti emphasize this expectation.

Other examples

Among the various examples of the Tone 3 prokeimenon melody, the most important is probably the common prokeimenon for the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, which is sung on most of her feasts:

listen

Remember to start this melody brightly, on mi.

Singing the prokeimenon and Alleluia verse(s)

Normally, the verses of prokeimena and Alleluia 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 half step up from the final note of the prokeimenon or Alleluia:

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