Friday, August 29, 2008

The Byzantine rite: rich splendor...

My roommate is playing the most gorgeous church music in the world; and it isn't Latin. It's Byzantine choral music in Old Slavonic. To hear Church Slavonic sung with the Russian pronunciation from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is one of the most deeply sacred experiences on the planet. It almost brings tears to the eyes. Everybody has their favorite Rome memory. The best Rome memory I have is the cold winter nights when in the dark, tired and hungry, I crawled up the steps to the Rvssicvm to hear vespers chanted in an empty church on a Saturday night.

N.B. Modern man is so blasé so as to not even recognize the beauty of this music, but if you're ever in Rome on a cold winter Saturday night, then be sure to attend vespers at the Rvssicvm.


Symeon said...

Do you know of any good recordings of byzantine rite music?

I once heard (on Youtube) a chant that I think was called "the seraphic hymn" which almost literally pulled me out of time for the entire time that I was listening. If there is a recording as good or better than that one, I'll buy it.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Dear Symeon:

I think you are referring to the Cherubic Hymn or Kheruvimskaya. And I think you were listening to the Tchaikovsky "Kheruvimskaya", which is truly heavenly.

Just type in "Russian Orthodox Music 4" in youtube... that is the recording. There used to be an even more beautiful rendition of the Tchaikovsky "Kheruvimskaya" on Youtube but it was pulled out.

I agree, JP: Russian choral sacred music is the best in the world. It actually is based in great part upon the Roman school of polyphony, but as with so many things that the Russians borrowed, they perfected it. And Russian choral settings can take hours to sing, and continuously at that!

The website of the Patriarchate of Moscow has entire recordings of the Divine Liturgy available. Serbian sacred music is also superb.