Orthodox Hymns Made Available in Gregorian Chant

February 14, 2018

The monks of Holy Transfiguration Hermitage in BC have created a collection of liturgical hymns set to Gregorian melodies.

Many people think of Gregorian, or Plainchant, as the Medieval song of the Roman Catholic Church, but this only represents one chapter of an epic story. In fact, Western Plainchant is one of the most ancient and venerable modal traditions in the world, with deep roots in the music of Old Testament Israel and Classical Greece.

The heart of the Gregorian repertoire was written between the third and eighth centuries AD, and is closely related to the emerging Byzantine chant of that period. From the eighth to the twelfth centuries, Gregorian chant acquired the Frankish, Celtic and Mozarabic (old Spanish) colourations which give it a distinctive “western” sound; however, it was not exposed to the Middle-eastern influences which characterized later Byzantine performance (western singers often find Byzantine hymns challenging for this reason). The melodic figures of Gregorian chant remain archetypal to western music until this day.

These features were the basic motivation for these adaptations: the idea was to provide an authentic modal chant suitable for English-speaking Orthodox congregations in the West; a chant they would feel at home with.

What is modality? Simply put, it is a canonical, or iconographic form of music. Modal chant is to music what the icon is to art. The Gregorian Modes, like their Byzantine equivalents, are a mystical language which speaks to the soul, stills the passions, elevates the spirit, opens the window of prayer in the heart…

The present document contains an extensive historical and theoretical introduction to Gregorian chant, followed by sheet music for the idiomela of Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy, as well as Festal, Lenten, and Paschal material. A companion volume is forthcoming which will include pointed texts for chanting the stikhera, troparia and canons of the Resurrectional cycle.

The monks wish to thank all those who have supported and contributed to this project.

Download Orthodox Liturgical Hymns in Gregorian Chant >

Listen to some recorded examples >