In the late summer of this year, I made a retreat at the Melkite monastic foundation of Our Lady of Solitude Cloister & Retreat in Warren Center, PA. At the end of the retreat, Rev. Hieromonk Angelus, superior of the foundation, asked me to compose an article for the Melkite Eparchy of Newton’s journal, Sophia, touching upon my retreat and the feast with which it coincided: the Transfiguration of the Lord. I did as he requested and the results are here: the article was published this month and a copy of it can be read on-line. If you are so interested, you can find the article HERE. The piece is entitled, “A Transfigured Faith?” and can be found on page 18. If you like it or are edified by it, then praise be to God. If not, all I can do is apologize.
November 3, 2009
September 21, 2009
From the Catholic Encyclopedia
The family of liturgies originally used in the Patriarchate of Antioch begins with that of the Apostolic Constitutions; then follow that of St. James in Greek, the Syrian Liturgy of St. James, and the other Syrian Anaphorus. The line may be further continued to the Byzantine Rite (the older Liturgy of St. Basil and the later and shorter one of St. John Chrysostom), and through it to the Armenian use. But these no longer concern the Church of Antioch.
I. THE LITURGY OF THE APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS
The oldest known form that can be described as a complete liturgy is that of the Apostolic Constitutions. It is also the first member of the line of Antiochene uses. The Apostolic Constitutions consist of eight books purporting to have been written by St. Clement of Rome (died c. 104). The first six books are an interpolated edition of the Didascalia (“Teaching of the Apostles and Disciples”, written in the first half of the third century and since edited in a Syriac version by de Lagarde, 1854); the seventh book is an equally modified version of the Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, probably written in the first century, and found by Philotheos Bryennios in 1883) with a collection of prayers. The eighth book contains a complete liturgy and the eighty-five “Apostolic Canons”. There is also part of a liturgy modified from the Didascalia in the second book. It has been suggested that the compiler of the Apostolic Constitutions may be the same person as the author of the six spurious letters of St. Ignatius (Pseudo-Ignatius). In any case he was a Syrian Christian, probably an Apollinarist, living in or near Antioch either at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century. And the liturgy that he describes in his eighth book is that used in his time by the Church of Antioch, with certain modifications of his own. That the writer was an Antiochene Syrian and that he describes the liturgical use of his own country is shown by various details, such as the precedence given to Antioch (VII, xlvi, VIII, x, etc.); his mention of Christmas (VIII, xxxiii), which was kept at Antioch since about 375, nowhere else in the East till about 430 (Duchesne, Origines du culte chrétien, 248); the fact that Holy Week and Lent together make up seven weeks (V, xiii) as at Antioch, whereas in Palestine and Egypt, as throughout the West, Holy Week was the sixth week of Lent; that the chief source of his “Apostolic Canons” is the Synod of Antioch in encœniis (341); and especially by the fact that his liturgy is obviously built up on the same lines as all the Syrian ones. There are, however, modifications of his own in the prayers, Creed, and Gloria, where the style and the idioms are obviously those of the interpolator of the Didascalia (see the examples in Brightman, “Liturgies”, I, xxxiii-xxxiv), and are often very like those of Pseudo-Ignatius also (ib., xxxv). The rubrics are added by the compiler, apparently from his own observations.
September 13, 2009
The original article is from SyriacMusic.com.
Music of the Syriac Orthodox Church is enriched and has a sterling history running from the beginning of our times derived from the ancient Sumerian and Acadian musical period.
Excavations proved that music in Mesopotamia began with the Sumerians in 4500 BC and that there were schools of music in that area since that time. Music used in many fields of life especially in the religious ceremonies where it played an imported role.
The Acadian octave (from one note to its equivalent in a higher register) was divided into 24-quartertones. Every eight keys formed a scale. These scales did not get over the entire octave; while they were built on the first four tones only (tetra chord). These tetra chords were combined thereafter with each other until they made up to 3000 different complete scales. A lot of them did not give musical satisfaction and were reduced to almost 200. Today about 10 are in use.
The early Christians sang different type of songs and especially from the Psaltery. It was decided in the early Church to pray and sing in Aramaic the “international” language at that time. Already though, with the establishing of Church, the Acadian seven-tones´ scale was used, the tones which came to Palestine probably with the returning Jews who were liberated by Cyrus about 539 BC. These scales have been used in Jerusalem from 444 BC.
After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AC, the early believers moved to Antioch together with Peter the founder of Christian church of Antioch. At that time Antioch was an important bridge between east and west and the point of meeting for other cultures. After the entry of Christianity into the Middle East in the second-third Century, the Christian mass service in Antioch standardized by using the Acadian main tones but in a particular order.
Scales from Acadia took form of eight different tones, a new one for each Sunday, beginning from the Church Consecration’s Sunday (first Sunday in November). These eight scales became the basis of the oriental music which is used until today in all the Middle East, Iran, Greece, Turkey and North Africa.
Bar Dayson (154 – 222 AC) composed 150 hymns. His hymns were so popular that they were sung generations after him. He fell into conflict with the Syrian Orthodox Church management. St. Ephraim (303-373 AC) was the successor of Bar Dayson in introducing new form of music into Church and to eliminate Bar Dayson’s teachings. He wrote nearly thirty thousand hymns and established the women choir.
St. Ignatios I Nurono “the Illuminator” (68-107 AC) founded the two alternating choirs. The holy Chamoun Ibn Sabaghin from Babel entered thereafter this form to the Eastern Church in 341. He called choirs for “Chorous”. St. Ephram was followed by many famous church leaders like Rabula (360-435 AC), Shamoun Quqoyo (485-536 AC) and others. St. Jacob d’Orhoy (of Edessa) (+708) gathered all kinds of musical forms in the Syriac Orthodox Church and released them the current musical structure form .
All these hymns are protected today in the Beth Gazo (The Treasury of Chants) which contains up to 2500 different compositions, out of which about 700 or so survive. In the 1992 the Syriac Musician Nuri Iskandar released a notated Beth Gazo.
By: Dr. Abrohom Lahdo and Elias Zazi