Introduction to the musical scores for
The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

When we began this project, it was our desire to present – in English – the chant of the classical Constantinopolitan tradition in a manner that respected the canon of repertoire of both the Great Church and the Holy Mountain, the nuances of the English language, and liturgical continuity.

The inspiration and model for this edition came from the 1990 edition Theias Litourgias compiled by Panagiotes Pappas. For the initial 3 stases of psalmody, we have allowed for three potential normative usages. Both the older Typicon of St. Sabbas Monastery in Jerusalam and the Typicon of the Great Church 1888 provided that the Typica (Psalms 102 and 147, and the Beatitudes) be chanted on Sundays. Both Psalms were adapted directly from scores derived from the oral tradition of the Holy Mountain. Because the Beatitudes are traditionally chanted in the mode of the appointed verses from the Ochtoechos or Menaion, we have left melodic settings for these out of this current edition. Although the 1888 Typicon mandates the monastic Typica for Sundays and the Constantinopolitan antiphons for weekdays and Feasts, many Greek parishes continue to follow the older urban practice of employing the Antiphons on Sundays. This may be of particular benefit to newer communities who may not feel vocally or liturgically competent enough to chant a full Typica with verses for the Beatitudes. Sets of three psalms with short refrains were originally characteristic of the ancient cathedral Rite of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia, which employed them in stational processions through the streets of Constantinople, at the end of “Sung” Vespers, and – at first only on processional days – to begin the Divine Liturgy.

In order to provide ancient continuity, we have maintained the traditional 2nd Mode for all of the Liturgy’s short hymns, antiphonal psalmody, and the Trisagion – with the exception of “All ye that in Christ”.

Although, this edition uses an adaptation of the well-known six-response setting in the Plagal 4th Mode, all subsequent instances are rendered in the unembellished, plain-chanted chyma or kliton historically used in the Patriarchal Chapel of St. George. The liturgical utility of simplicity is especially notable in the Anaphora, for which we sing an English adaptation of the so-called chyma or kliton responses preserved by the oral tradition of the Great Church of Christ. At first their austerity may be disconcerting to listeners accustomed to tuneful or virtuosic Leitourgika, but when they are placed in sequence with the celebrant’s recitations, one is led to a deeper appreciation of the thematic unity and spiritual power of the great Eucharistic Prayer attributed to St. John Chrysostom. This simplicity serves to clarify the textual structure of the responses, as well as opening the possibility of congregational participation at the Anaphora.

To streamline the current volume, we have included only three Axion Estins and the Sunday Communion Hymn adapted from the now-popular melody of St. Ioannis Koukouzelis. The Cherubica are in development. If settings of the Cherubic Communion Hymns for Feasts and special occasions are desired, users are referred to The Divine Music Project.

All work is copyrighted by John Peter Presson except where noted. Translated text is copyrighted by Holy Transfiguration Monastery and is used with permission.