Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prostopinije as "Memory"

We should especially remember the clearest, brightest sign of our singular past. We manifest this sign at every Divine Liturgy and every Divine Service. Indeed, whenever we congregate as Christian, Rusyn people, this sign emerges as clear as sunrise in the morning.

Of course I am speaking here of the Carpatho-Rusyn legacy of Prostopinije — and it is a golden legacy.

It is rightly treasured and cherished.

As we sing its beautiful cycle of eight tones, in the various settings of tropar, kondak, bohorodicen, samolahsen, sticherij and irmos, we are hearing two sets of echoes.

First of all, we hear — of course — the dogma of the Apostolic Church. We hear the Tradition that binds us with the rest of Eastern Christendom.

But secondly, we hear something that defines us in Christian difference. We hear echoes and ancient strains from the Carpathian mountains. We hear melodies that were sung on the hillsides, in far off rustic churches. We hear tones that were gathered from songs that were sung in the towns on summer evenings. We hear echoes from pilgrimages, and the chorus of older women as they trod carefully up hillsides to shrines set in high mountain meadows. And in the great Feasts, we even hear older, more ancient melodies — melodies which carry the haunting tones of Kiev and Constantinople.

+ Metropolitan Nicholas (1936-2011), American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A.
[from Archpastoral Address to the Visitation of the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary to Christ the Saviour Seminary in Johnstown, PA, USA on 13 October 2010]

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From Holy Scripture

[Be] filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

[Ephesians 5:18b-19 (from the Epistle Reading for Pentecost Monday]

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Propers & Hymns - Pentecost Sunday - May 27, 2012

Propers, hymns and hymn selection (order of worship) for Pentecost Sunday are available on the For the Faithful resource page.

Please join us for Sunday worship on this special feast day, often referred to as the "Birthday of the Church".

The Holy Spirit shall descend on you, and His power from on high will enlighten you!
-Invocation of the Holy Spirit

Friday, May 25, 2012

From Holy Scripture

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

[John 20:19-23 (Gospel at Matins - Feast of Pentecost)]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Propers & Hymns - Fifth & Final All Souls' Saturday (Friday Vigil) - May 25, 2012

Propers, hymns and hymn selection (order of worship) for the Fifth (and final) All Souls' Saturday Divine Liturgy, to be held on Friday evening (vigil), are available on the For the Faithful resource page.

Please join us in prayer for the deceased by being present for the Divine Liturgy for the faithful departed, and for the Panachida with the reading from the list of names of the faithful departed (Hramoty) of our parish family.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Feast of Pentecost

The Feast of Pentecost is celebrated each year on the fiftieth day after Pascha and ten days after the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. The feast day always falls on a Sunday, and is a commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, a feast of Jewish origin and tradition. It is also a celebration of the establishment of the Church (sometimes referred to as the "Birthday of the Church"), and is seen as the culmination of the revelation of the Holy Trinity.

The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles. We are told that the Apostles were gathered together in one place in Jerusalem when suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing wind, filling the entire house where they were sitting. Then, tongues of fire appeared and sat upon each of the Apostles. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, and with great enlightenment.

Among the thousands present in Jerusalem for the feast, on the day of Pentecost about three thousand of them were baptized after hearing Peter and the Apostles preach in their own tongues. The newly baptized continued daily to hear the teaching of the Apostles, as these earliest Christians met together for fellowship, the breaking of bread, and for prayer.

Many wonderful signs and miracles were done through the Apostles in those days, and thus the Church grew daily as many were being saved and came to believe.

- adapted from various sources, with special acknowledgement to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sacrosanctum Concilium

The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn Liturgy.

Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites.

+ Pope Paul VI (1963)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hramoty for All Souls Days

The custom of announcing the names of the deceased during the liturgical services can be traced back to the first centuries of Christianity. Already in the fourth century, the practice was strongly defended by St. Epiphanius (d. 403) as a "firmly established tradition" in the Church. He writes:
Concerning the ritual of reading the names of the deceased, what can be more useful or suitable; what can be more worthy of admiration?
This venerable custom was transmitted to us by our ancestors as a part of our beautiful spiritual heritage. Every year, just before Meat-Fare Saturday, the families give the lists of their departed loved ones ("Hramoty") to the pastor with the request that they be mentioned at the appointed services held for the deceased.

— excerpted and edited from the Byzantine Leaflet Series #6, "An Explanation of the Byzantine Rite Liturgical Practice of Observing All Souls Saturdays" (source: Patronage of the Mother of God, Baltimore, MD parish website)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Propers & Hymns - Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical (Nicene) Council - May 20, 2012

Propers, hymns and hymn selection (order of worship) for this coming Sunday's Divine Liturgy are available on the For the Faithful resource page.

As previously noted, we will be celebrating the Rite of Christian Initiation and Sacrament of Chrismation at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy. The propers are thus truncated, as is customary when the Rite of Christian Initiation is conducted as part of Sunday worship.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Propers & Hymns - Feast of the Ascension

Propers, hymns and liturgical hymn selection (order of worship) for the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord (Thursday, May 17, 2012) are available on the For the Faithful resource page.

An opening hymn is included that was in use for many years at the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, from the oeuvre of +Professor John Kahanick. As it may be unfamilar, an audio file of the melody is available via this link.

NOTE: As noted in our church calendar, the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord is a holy day of obligation (day of precept) for Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholics in the United States.

Hope to see you for the Divine Liturgy on Ascension Thursday!  

Be Exalted Above The Heavens

Be exalted above the heavens, O God, and let Your glory be over all the earth! [Psalm 56:6,8]

Taken as the Prokeimenon of the Ascension, this Psalm verse is also used throughout the Divine Liturgy of the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord (and during its octave) to emphasize the theme of the Feast, that of Christ ascended in glory!

Although we do not plan to introduce this choral rendition in our parish this year, for general interest we have made available a restored choral setting of this Scriptural verse, once again from the oeuvre of +Professor John Kahanick and the Choir of the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel (Passaic, NJ). To the best of my knowledge, as indicated on the handwritten score, this is an original composition.

Be Exalted Above The Heavens (+Kahanick)
[link to audio file]

Our Liturgical Glossary: "Leave-taking" (or "Otdanije")

Leave-taking – the final day of the extended celebration of a great feast on which the
proper hymns of the feast are repeated.

[The Divine Liturgies of Our Holy Fathers John Chrysostom and Basil The Great (People's Book), The Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church Sui Juris of Pittsburgh, USA, 2006, pg. 464]

Otdaniye (Greek: Apodosis)  – Similar to the Latin Octave. The final day of the post-festive period is called Otdaniye [also commonly transliterated as "Otdanije"] (relinquishing or surrendering of the feast). On this day, for the greater part, services are taken much the same as on the day of the feast.

[Greek Catholic Dictionary, Rev. Basil Shereghy, S.T.D. and Rev. Vladimir Vancik, S.T.D., Pittsburgh Byzantine Diocesan Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1951, pg. 52]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our Liturgical Glossary: "Anaphora"

Anaphora – the great prayer of thanksgiving at the heart of the Divine Liturgy; this prayer includes a remembrance of the saving command and acts of Christ and an invocation of the Holy Spirit.

[The Divine Liturgies of Our Holy Fathers John Chrysostom and Basil The Great (People's Book), The Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church Sui Juris of Pittsburgh, USA, 2006, pg. 462]

Anaphora (Gr: offering) – A liturgical term used in the Eastern Rites to designate that part of the Divine Liturgy which includes the prayer of great thanksgiving, consecration and communion. The Anaphora is of Apostolic origin. In the Eastern Rites there are several Anaphoras. The Byzantine Rite in particular uses two: namely, that of St. John Chrysostom and of St. Basil.

[Greek Catholic Dictionary, Rev. Basil Shereghy, S.T.D. and Rev. Vladimir Vancik, S.T.D., Pittsburgh Byzantine Diocesan Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1951, pg. 9]

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 20, 2012: A Sacramental Sunday in Smithtown

In addition to being the Sunday of the Fathers of the First Nicene Council (and the Sunday before Pentecost), we have a full slate at the Resurrection parish next Sunday morning, May 20th.

On Saturday May 19th, our second grade ECF class will be making their First Penance, and will receive the Holy Eucharist together as a group the next day at the Sunday Divine Liturgy.

Further, we will be receiving two infants as new members of the Church via the Rite of Christian Initiation, and three additional children via the Sacrament of Chrismation.

Indeed we can look forward to a very special Sunday morning!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Our Plainchant Heritage

"In Subcarpathian Rus’ in all the villages both among the [Greek Catholics] and also among Orthodox, there was always practiced only congregational singing of the complete services, not excluding the changeable (proper) hymns in all the varied chants. They sang according to the ‘Great Zbornik’ (collection of prayers and liturgical texts) containing every necessary text. The numerous chants (not excluding all the podobny, not even found in the Synodal notated liturgical books) were known by everyone, even the children of school age. The leader of song — the most experienced singer from the parishes—standing at the kliros sang the chant. As soon as the worshippers would hear the hymn, they would join in the chant and the entire church sang all the stichiry, all the tropars, all the irmosy—in a word, everyone sang properly according to the established canonical parts of the Liturgy.  They sang in unison and whoever could, imitated or reinforced the bass. The impression proved to be overwhelmingly strong."

 Johann von Gardner (1898-1984)
[based on his personal observations and witness, while living in Subcarpathian Rus' from approximately 1917 to 1921] 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Taken from Sunday Matins

A few questions have come up about the hymn "Hosts of Angels" (link to score) that we have chanted before Divine Liturgy on Sundays this Paschal season.

"Hosts of Angels" is a hymn chanted during Sunday and Feast Day Matins (morning prayer), part of the Byzantine daily cycle of worship (the Daily Office). As the faithful are most aware, we chant Pascal Matins before Divine Liturgy on the Feast of Pascha. Many of us are exposed to Matins only via this service (which is a special form for the Great Pasch), and perhaps other occasional Matins services of the Great Fast, namely, Matins with the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete on Thursday of the fifth week of Great Lent, and Jerusalem Matins on Great and Holy Saturday (both of which were celebrated at our parish this past Great Lent).

The central theme of  "Hosts of Angels" is the witness and commemoration of the glorious Resurrection, and thus most appropriate for reflection as we begin the Divine Liturgy on Pascal Sundays, in particular.

NOTE: As it is pastorally challenging in many parishes to have Matins generally and on Sundays, we will be taking hymns from Matins during the great incensation (incensing of the church and faithful before the opening blessing of the Divine Liturgy) as opportunities arise, in order to introduce the faithful to some of the great "hidden" treasures from Matins in our tradition.

Musicam Sacram

“As a manifestation of the human spirit, music performs a function which is noble, unique, and irreplaceable. When it is truly beautiful and inspired, it speaks to us more than all the other arts of goodness, virtue, peace, of matters holy and divine. Not for nothing has it always been, and will it always be, an essential part of the liturgy.”

- Blessed Pope John Paul II (1989)

Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord!

"For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyfully; he who sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him to whom he is singing."

- St. Augustine (Enarratio in Psalmum 72)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

All are welcome to follow our blog!

We will be posting regularly as new items are added to the resource pages of the blog.

You may follow us either by RSS feed or via email, using the links and buttons provided at the bottom of this blog page.  This is an easy way to keep up with us and new additions to the resources included here.

We also once again note that suggestions are always welcome (please leave as comments to related blog posts).

Thanks for visiting and following!

New Links to our Blog on the Resurrection Smithtown Parish Website

We encourage all to visit our parish website @

Links are now provided on the Choir page of the parish website to this blog, and directly to the "For the Faithful" resource page, for the benefit of our parishioners.

The "For the Faithful" resource page may also be accessed using this shortcut link: (add as a "Favorite" on you web browser !!!) 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Resource Pages for our Chant Group & Choir

The Choral Repertoire and Chant Repertiore resource pages are intended to feature those works currently in occasional use in our parish, as rehearsed and chanted in praise of the Lord by our chant group, choir and congregation.

Material intended for preliminary distribution to and for rehearsal by our chant group & choir will be posted regularly to the For Rehearsal ... resource page.

The chant group & choir will receive further direction and notifications via our email distribution list, as postings to these resource pages are added, modified or deleted.

Additional background information on content and our mission is included on each of these resource pages. As always, visitors are most welcome!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Resource Page for the Faithful of our Parish

The resource page entitled "For The Faithful: Propers & Hymns for Scheduled Services at our Parish" is intended to be a repository for materials designed to assist the faithful in participating fully in each of the services scheduled at our parish.

Previously prepared for the chant group and choir only, we've been encouraged to share these materials with the faithful of the parish.

For every Sunday, festal Holy Day or weekday when the Divine Liturgy is scheduled to be celebrated, a link to a one page outline will be published on this resource page in advance, listing (with page number references in the People's Book) the propers for that Sunday or feast day. In addition, it will also list (by letter reference and page number) the hymn variants from the People's Book chosen for that particular Divine Liturgy (e.g. the Trisagion, or Thrice-Holy Hymn; the Cherubikon, or Cherubic Hymn; etc.).

The outlines posted here on this resource page will thus provide additional details that cannot be practically posted on the hymnal boards in the nave of our church, or economically reproduced and distributed on a weekly basis; namely, the variable hymn selections when more than one option exists in the People's Book. The outlines will also be accompanied by copies of any other supplemental materials to be used in the course of celebrating the Divine Liturgy (e.g. supplemental hymns not available in either the People's Book or in the Byzantine Catholic Hymnal).

Further, we may also from time to time supplementally include material distributed by our Archeparchy's Metropolitan Cantor Institute ("MCI"). The MCI's service booklets typically reprint the propers (with music) in a concise format, providing what is otherwise found in the People's Book, at times in multiple sections (necessitating sometimes frustrating "page flipping" in these instances).

The links will be to files posted on an internet-accessible "virtual shared drive" (Google Docs), in Adobe *.pdf format. Please download Adobe Reader if needed, which is freely available from the software publisher.

NOTE: This Resource Page can also be accessed using this dedicated link: (new, revised link!), offered as an option for the faithful who wish to be pointed directly to our weekly and periodic postings. We recommend it be saved as a "Favorite" in your web browser.

Our Blog Pages & Other Resources

This blogspot has been designed primarily to support our parish in Sunday and feast day worship, and to promote the work and further development of our chant group and choir.

We anticipate visitors, who are welcome to avail themselves of the information and resources posted here.

In addition to the running blog and accompanying resource pages, we will maintain a list of featured links to other internet-based resources and websites of interest, both for our Church's tradition (Prostopinije, or Carpatho-Rusyn Plainchant) and that of some of our sister Churches of Eastern European origin (see listings to the right of our blog entries on the Home page).

Suggestions are always welcome!


Welcome to the blog of the chant & choral music ministry of the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Smithtown, NY. This blog, as noted, has been created to foster the plainchant tradition at our parish, and to support the development of our chant group & choir. We hope this blog also serves to promote the magnificent plainchant and choral traditions of our Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church, as well as the work of other Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, of the Byzantine-Slavonic rite and tradition.