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1. Apolytikion: Thy Nativity, mode IV
2. Polyeleos, stasis I: Servants O Lord, mode III
3. Polyeleos, stasis II: O give thanks unto the Lord, in six modes
4. Polyeleos, stasis III: All the earth allellouia, modes IV & nenano
5. Kontakion: On this day the Virgin, mode III
6. Katabasiae: Christ is born, Odes 1-8, mode I
7. Ode 9: A strange and marvelous mystery, mode I
8. Exaposteilarion: From the heights our Saviour, mode III
9. Praises stichera, mode IV
10. Praises Both now: Today Christ is born, mode II
11. All ye that in Christ have been baptized (in English, Greek, Arabic and English), mode I
12. Katabasiae, Odes 1 & Xpistos gennetai (Christ is born), mode I
13. Ode 9: Mysterion Chenon (A strange and marvelous mystery), mode I
14. O Christos egennethe o stephas e basilea (Christ is born who crowns you King), mode IV
15. Byzantine Carol: Anarchos Theos (The God who is without beginning), mode I
16. Byzantine Carol: Christougenna, Protougenna (The God who is without beginning), mode I
17. Carol (Sigalas? collection): Kalein esieran archontes (Good evening, my Lords), mode pl. IV
18. Carol (Sigalas? collection): Semero oi Magoi (Good evening, my Lords), mode pl. IV
19. Carol (Naupliotis? collection): Doxa Theou (Glory to God)
This exquisite book & CD package is a limited edition production by Romeiko Ensemble celebrating the Nativity of Christ and exploring the celebration of Christmas in the late Byzantine Empire. The book is cloth bound with an embossed icon on the cover and includes 72 pages in full color, lavishly illustrated with icons and manuscript illuminations. Its contents are superb, and include: Patristic and Psalter quotes on the subject of Nativity; The Nativity Icon and an accompanying essay explaining its symbolism; in the center fold, a newly commissioned Prokypsis icon with accompanying essay explaining the Prokypsis ceremony on the eve of Nativity in the Byzantine court; an essay by Fr. Maximos Lavriotes on the theology of the Nativity; musicological notes by George Bilalis, Director of the ensemble; and hymn text in English. The CD includes 71 minutes of music (approx. 45 minutes in English) of Byzantine chant for Nativity and five regional Greek carols ? including the never before performed Prokypsis hymn for the Emperor and a reproduction of the medieval manuscript from which it was transcribed. This is a limited print run edition, with only 1,000 copies printed. Place your order early to assure you receive a one of these collectible examples of authentic Byzantine chant.
Fr. Apostolos Hill
Christmas came early for me this year when I received an advance copy of the splendid new recording by Romeiko Ensemble under the direction of Dr. George Bilalis: Byzantine Christmas! It has been often remarked ? and with good reason ? that the Orthodox Church emphasizes the Feast of the Resurrection, Pascha, to a far greater extend than it does the Feast of the Nativity. But the centrality of the Incarnation to the theology and everyday spirituality of the Orthodox Church cannot be overlooked. The revolutionary appeal of that first angelic message; ?Glory to God in the highest, Peace on Earth, and Good-will to all men? is as fresh and joyous to us today as it was to the humble shepherd boys who heard it originally as they huddled in fright on the Judean hills outside of Bethlehem. Particularly today when our relationship to the material world is so horribly skewed, the profound truth of the sanctification of matter at the coming of the Divine logos tou Theou into the world He Himself had made is one that must be proclaimed if the continued degradation of the Garden is to be arrested and the soulless materialism of vapid consumerism is to be corrected.
Which in part is why Byzantine Christmas is so important: it is a book and CD and the book addresses these very subjects through it?s exploration of how the Nativity (or Christmas) was celebrated in the late Byzantine Empire. It does so through Patristic quotations, essays, quotations from the Psalms, icons and commentary ? all centered on that singular theme of ?God with us.? The book also includes a newly commissioned icon and never-before performed ?Prokypsis? (He who is born crowns you king) hymn, which visually and musically illustrate the Eastern conception of life, empire and emperor all under and serving God.
The CD by Romeiko Ensemble that accompanies the book is both a noetic and an artistic feast! The hymns will be instantly familiar to any faithful Orthodox worshipper, rendered elegantly and clearly in both Greek and English. From the opening track, the apolytikion of the feast ?Christ is Born, glorify Him,? the listener is filled with a sense of joy and wonder as each track unfolds. Perhaps one of the most dearly-loved hymns in all of Orthodoxy, the kontakion ?On this day the Virgin comes to the cave,? is rendered here with great tenderness and devotion in English as are the katabasias that follow. The Ensemble outdoes even their already lofty musical standards as they present these revered and well-known hymns in a way that is both faithful to the original Byzantine melodies while fresh, lilting, and energetic. And as a real bonus, three Christmas carols are included at the end of the recording. It is as if one has stepped out of the Nativity service and into a wonderful parish family celebration! (One can almost taste the succulent lamb as it is sliced off the spit!) This is a disc that will become in very short order a much sought-after Nativity Holiday classic enjoyed by both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike! Do yourself and all the music lovers in your family the great favor of getting your order in early for this latest offering by Dr. Bilalis and Romeiko Ensemble! Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
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