Byzantine Chant in English
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    A group called the Cappella Romana has an interesting website. I've been listening to their CD of the Divine Liturgy in English, and I have to say, they make quite a compelling case. They have an extraordinary 40-page booklet (PDF) here.

    Makes me wonder how things would have been different had a similar approach been taken after Vat II.

    A video presentation on Byzantine chant from a Greek Orthodox, Stanley Takis.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    The thing is, Byzantine chant in English developed naturally over generations in a church that had a tradition of using the vernacular in liturgy. I think a big mistake in Vatican II was trying to force what can only develop. (Or perhaps we can blame Trent for ossifying what should be organic?)
  • Fine observations, Jam. Particularly with regard to Trent and ossification. Many were the priests and prelates of that time who wanted the liturgy put into the various vernaculars which had, finally, evolved into literate tongues. We likely would have inherited liturgical languages as incomparably beautiful as that of the Book of Common Prayer. As for Vatican II: it seems to me that the Church, far from forcing anything, simply opened the flood gates and stood back helpless at the ensuing deluge which swept away what relatively little of substance it had said about the liturgy and its music. It was the iconoclasts who did the forcing.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    The road to vernacular Byzantine chant hasn't been easy (and the saga continues to this day). Byzantine chant in Greece underwent heavy Westernization in the 19th and 20th century - smoothing out the microtones, developing foursquare Western harmonizations, etc. In the USA, this included many churches falling in love with organ accompaniment. Some of this was accommodation and assimilation; lots of it was just bad music. In the latter part of the 20th century, there began a serious effort to recover Byzantine chant that coincided with the acknowledgement by many that the anglophone Greek Orthodox needed a liturgy they could understand. How to combine the best of Byzantine style (which ain't easy to understand) with English - and in an environment where people's ears weren't tuned to the traditional scales?

    (Note that none of this has anything to do with Russians, Serbs, Ukrainians, etc. who have their own musical styles and issues.)

    An interesting place to learn more about this is www.newbyz.org - New Byzantian Publications. Read the articles, take a look at the music. I've used some of it and people respond well. Even more fun for the adventurous can be had at http://chant.hchc.edu/ - A Flash course in byzantine notation.