Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Byzantine Chants for the Dormition of the Virgin Mary

In the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, after the consecration and epiclesis, there is a prayer which commemorates the Saints, which is said in silence, and reads as follows: “Again, we offer this rational worship for those who have reposed in the Faith: Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, and every righteous spirit made perfect in faith.” The celebrant then sings outloud, “Especially our all-holy, immaculate, blessed-above-all and glorious Lady, the Mother of God, and ever-Virgin Mary.” To this, the choir responds with a hymn, for which there is a “default” text, so to speak, which is used on the majority of days, “Truly is it worthy to magnify Thee.” On a number of occasions, however, this hymn is replaced with part of the last Ode from the long and complex series of hymns at Orthros called the Canon. On the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin and during the Afterfeast, this hymn is sung as follows. (An Afterfeast is like a Roman octave, but varies in length; that of the Dormition is nine days long, ending on August 23rd.)

“The Angels, seeing the Dormition of the all-pure one, were astonished at how the Virgin departs from the earth on high – The bounds of nature are overcome in Thee, o immaculate Virgin; for childbirth is virginal, and death obtaineth life. O Thou who were a virgin after childbirth, and alive after death, ever save, o Mother of God, thine inheritance.”

Аггели оуспенїе Пречистыѧ видѣвше, оудивишасѧ какω Дѣваѧ восходитъ ωт земли на небо. – Побеждаются естества оуставы, въ Тебѣ, Дѣво Чистаѧ: дѣвствует бо рождество, и животъ предωбручаетъ смерть: по рождествѣ Дѣва, и по смерти жива, спасаеши приснω, Богородице, наслѣдїе Твое.

This Greek version includes only the second part (“The bounds of nature...”):

Νενίκηνται τῆς φύσεως οἱ ὅροι, ἐν Σοὶ Παρθένε ἄχραντε· παρθενεύει γὰρ τόκος, καὶ ζωὴν προμνηστεύεται θάνατος. Ἡ μετὰ τόκον παρθένος, καὶ μετὰ θάνατον ζῶσα, σῴζοις ἀεί, Θεοτόκε τὴν κληρονομίαν Σου.

The most frequently used chants for any given feast are called the Troparion and the Kontakion (‘tropar’ and ‘kondak’ in the Slavic languages), which are sung at the Divine Liturgy, and repeated at most of the Hours. The former is also called the “dismissal hymn” (apolytikion), since it is the last proper chant of Vespers. Those of the Dormition are as follows, returning to the theme of the Ode given above, which compares the miracle of the Virgin Birth to that of Mary’s passage into the next life.

Troparion In the act of begetting, Thou didst preserve virginity; in the Dormition, Thou didst not forsake the world, o Mother of God. Thou didst change over to life, being the Mother of Life, and by Thy prayers ransoming our souls from death.
Kontakion The tomb and death did not keep hold of the Mother of God, Who resteth not in prayers and intercessions, our unalterable hope. For He that dwelt in Her ever -virginal womb translated Her to life, as the Mother of Life.

Тропар Въ рождестве дѣвство сохранила еси, во оуспенїи міра не ωставила еси, Богородице, преставиласѧ еси къ животу, Мати сущи Живота, и молитвами Твоими избавлѧеши ωт смерти души наша.

Кондак Въ молитвахъ Неусыпающую Богородицу и въ предстательствахъ непреложное oупованїе гробї и oумерщвленїе не oудержаста: якоже бо Живота Матерь къ животу престави во oутробу Вселивыйсѧ приснодевственную.

The Greek versions (in two separate videos):
Τροπάριον Ἐν τῇ Γεννήσει τὴν παρθενίαν ἐφύλαξας, ἐν τῇ Κοιμήσει τὸν κόσμον οὐ κατέλιπες Θεοτόκε. Μετέστης πρὸς τὴν ζωήν, μήτηρ ὑπάρχουσα τῆς ζωῆς, καὶ ταῖς πρεσβείαις ταῖς σαῖς λυτρουμένη, ἐκ θανάτου τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
Κοντάκιον Τὴν ἐν πρεσβείαις ἀκοίμητον Θεοτόκον, καὶ προστασίαις ἀμετάθετον ἐλπίδα, τάφος καὶ νέκρωσις οὐκ ἐκράτησεν· ὡς γὰρ ζωῆς Μητέρα, πρὸς τὴν ζωὴν μετέστησεν, ὁ μήτραν οἰκήσας ἀειπάρθενον.

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