The Tone 4 Prokeimenon Melody

This melody is used to sing prokeimena in Tone 4; the melody for the Tone 4 Alleluia is very similar, and will also be covered here.

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 in Tone 4

Many tone 4 prokeimena occur in the course of the church year, but the one which is sung most frequently is the prokeimenon of the Resurrection in tone 4; it can be found on page 142 in our Divine Liturgies book, and should be memorized.

Listen

This is a very easy stepwise melody, with only two leaps ("In wisdom", and at the very end), and one accidental, the do sharp which prevents us from settling on the key or tonic pitch.

Here is another tone 4 prokeimenon which we sing frequently: the prokeimenon of the Council Fathers, which is used on the three Sundays dedicated to the Ecumenical Councils, and on the two Sundays before Christmas:

Listen

Prokeimena in Tone 4 always begin with the first five notes of the major scale (though each one may be repeated before moving on to the next):

The Tone 4 Alleluia

The melody for the Tone 4 Alleluia is just different enough that is warrants separate discussion. Here it is:

Listen

For comparison, here is the Sunday prokeimenon in Tone 4, showing the matching notes.

Notice that both melodies end in exactly the same way as the prokeimenon melody in Tone 3 (and as we will see later, the prokeimenon melody in Tone 5). But this is not a problem because the beginnings of the melodies are different, and it is these beginnings (the intonations) that tell the congregation which melody is being used.

Both the prokeimenon and Alleluia in Tone 4 should be sung broadly and with feeling (they are particularly associated with joyous feasts); the Alleluia should not be sung too fast. Note also that the Alleluia slows down significantly in the second phrase.

Other examples

Try singing through this collection of prokeimena in Tone 4. For each one, notice the occasions on which it is used. How many of these services have you attended?

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.