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Christ Is Born: Ancient Hymns of Nativity & Theophany
All Saints of America Mission
St Romanos Press
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1. Christ is Born - Nativity Katavasia, 1st Mode
2. Today is the prelude - Apolytikion, 4th Mode
3. The sacred treasury - Kontakion, 4th Mode, Prosomia -Thou Who wast raised up?
4. On this day the Virgin cometh - Prefeast Kontakion, On this day the Virgin cometh - Prefeast Kontakion,
5. As we the faithful celebrate - Lord I have cried stichera, Plagal 4th Mode - Prosomia "The Paradise of Eden"
6. By faith didst Thou justify - Apolytikion, 2nd Mode
7. O House of Ephratha - Aposticha stichera (Dec. 20); Let us all celebrate - Praises Stichera, 2nd Mode - Automelon / Prosomia "O House of Ephratha"
8. A hand-wrought image - Kontakion, 2nd Mode
9. O pure living palace - Lord I have cried stichera, O pure living palace - Lord I have cried stichera; 1st Mode - Prosomia "O all-lauded martyrs"
10. Great are the achievements - Apolytikion, 2nd Mode
11. Be thou ready, Bethlehem - Apolytikion (Dec. 20-23), 4th Mode (hard chromatic) - Prosomia "Joseph was amazed"
12. Little Bethlehem, ready thyself - 1st Kathisma Hymn, Plagal 1st Mode - Prosomia "Let us worship the Word"
13. Be glad, O little Bethlehem - Exapostilarion, 2nd Mode - Prosomia "Upon that mount in Galilee"
14. Sion, thou sacred city - Praises stichera, Sion, thou sacred city - Praises stichera, Plagal 1st Mode - Prosomia "Rejoice"
15. O Bethlehem, rejoice - Kontakion, 1st Mode (soft chromatic) - Prosomia "The soldiers standing guard"
16. Thy Nativity, O Christ our God - Apolytikion, 4th Mode
17. Psalm 50 -Idiomela, 2nd Mode and Plagal 2nd Mode
18. O my soul, magnify -9th Ode (Karam), 1st Mode
19. From the heights our Savior, Christ -Exapostilarion, 3rd Mode - Automelon "From the heights our Savior, Christ"
20. When it was time - Praises Doxasticon, Plagal 2nd Mode
21. O my soul, magnify - Katavasia of 9th Ode, 1st Mode, (chanted instead of "It is Truly Right")
22. He hath sent redemption - Communion Hymn, 1st Mode and 3rd Mode
23. Our human form hast Thou taken - Apolytikion, Our human form hast Thou taken - Apolytikion,
24. When Thou, O Lord, was baptized - Apolytikion, 1st Mode
25. At Thine Epiphany - 1st Kathisma Hymn, At Thine Epiphany - 1st Kathisma Hymn,
26. The streams of the Jordan River - 3rd Kathisma Hymn, The streams of the Jordan River - 3rd Kathisma Hymn,
27. On this day Thou hast appeared - Kontakion, On this day Thou hast appeared - Kontakion,
28. As many as have been baptized - Anti-Trisagion, 1st Mode
29. O my soul, magnify - Katavasia of 9th Ode, 2nd Mode, (chanted instead of "It is Truly Right")
30. The grace of God - Communion Hymn, Plagal 1st Mode and Plagal 4th Mode
31. Our God is in Heaven - Gr. Prokeimenon
This CD is a collection of ancient hymns for the weeks preceding the Nativity of Christ, Christmas day itself and the weeks following (including Theophany / Epiphany). Many of these original melodies and texts are attributed to St. Romanos (6th c.), St. Andrew of Crete (7-8th c.), St. John of Damascus (7-8th c.), St. Cosmas of Maiuma (7-8th c.), St. Theodore the Studite (9th c.), St. Theophanes the Branded (9th c.), and St. Joseph the Hymnographer (9th c.) to name a few. Some of these special melodies (Prosomia) are set to dozens of other texts throughout the year. They have only recently been metered and transcribed into English. In recent times, this music has not been heard much in the West, as much of it is in Greek, Arabic or Slavonic and was written using the ancient music notation or neumes. There has been a considerable effort in recent years to transcibe this music into English. Sung in English; limited liner notes: performed hymns laid out by Feast; no hymn text.
This recording undertakes to collect together a cross-section of hymns spanning the Feast of the Prepartion of the Nativity, through Nativity itself, and on through the Circumcision and Theophany of Christ. The hymns are "ancient" in that they have been continuously chanted and sung in the Orthodox Chruch for millenia. What is commendable is the effort to stay true to traditional Byzantine melodies, using English settings for many of the hymns from St Anthony Monastery in Arizona, and text from the publications of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Massachusetts. That sets this work apart as being built on a foundation of tradition and good scholarship. Though this is not a professional choir or ensemble, what you hear is reminiscent of a younger and smaller version of the monastic choir from Vatopedi or Simonopetra Monasteries, but with singing in English. The recording is clear and well engineered, and the diction is also clear. It lacks the multi-dimensional quality that comes with large choruses or choirs singing the same hymns, but all it all, it is a very commendable effort, and well worth it for anyone interested in traditional renditions of these Byzantine hymns in English.
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