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Byzantine Hymns of The Nativity
Mount Lebanon Choir
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1. Today The Virgin
2. Come, Ye Believers; Who Wonderest Thou, O Mary
3. Glory to God in the Highest
4. Polyeleos of the Nativity
5. Come, Ye Believers
6. Now Manifested
7. A Marvelous Wonder
8. Our Savior
9. O House of Ephratha
10. The Father Hath Been Pleased and Satisfied
11. Thou Hast Shone Forth From the Virgin
12. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians
13. When the Lord Jesus Was Born
14. Magnify, O My Soul
15. When It Was Time For Thy Presence
16. The Great Doxology
17. Thy Nativity, O Christ Our God
Seventeen famous hymns of the Nativity, chanted by the world-renowned Mount Lebanon Choir. Includes 4-page insert in English. Chanted in Arabic with some Greek. Descriptive liner notes, no hymn text.
The first thing that strikes you is the large organic sound: this is a choir of massed voices singing Byzantine chant in Arabic, and they sing as one. Yet with that said, this large organic sound includes subtlety and the choir sings over a superb ison. The choir composition of adult male and female voices, as well as youth voices provides a unique blend in some hymns, and allows the youth?s voices to sing in a kind of counterpoint to the adult voices in others. Add to that a selection of soloists with terrific voices that match the choir very well, and you have a recording in the same quality range as Angelopoulos and the Greek Byzantine Choir. Overall this recording is superb and the choir is top notch. Even though this CD is a collection of festal hymns, the way it is performed with various choir voices, use of soloists as cantors and the singing of the Epistle make it feel very much like being present for a single service. It also includes some unique elements. The Polyeleos of the Nativity is rarely heard in a recording, and here it is exquisite. Marilyn Akkawi, the soloist on "Come, Ye Believers" (Track 5) is other-worldly, and on "Our Savior" is hauntingly beautiful. Her voice is on a level with Sr. Marie Keyrouz or Amina Alaoui. The antiphonal singing with the children's voices in "Now Manifested" (Track 6) is full of verve yet subtly nuanced. There are a small number of recordings where the singing is so good, the sound created so wonderful, that you don't need to know the language to enjoy it. This is one of them.
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