Thursday, October 01, 2020

Byzantine Music of the Italo-Albanian Tradition

A reader has alerted us to the recent (July) creation of a YouTube channel especially dedicated to the liturgy of the Italo-Albanian churches of the Byzantine Rite in southern Italy and Sicily. The notes under each video give the place and time it was made, with the Greek text and a French translation. The videos come mainly from the Facebook pages of the two eparchies, Lungro in the Calabrian province of Cosenza, and Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily. This channel is a private initiative, not affiliated with the Italo-Albanian Greek-Catholic Church; here are a few of the recent posts.

The koinonikon (communion hymn) for the Conception of St John the Baptist, Sept. 23. “The just man shall be in eternal memory, he will have no fear of an evil report, alliluja.” (At the abbey of Grottaferrata.)

The megalynarion (hymn to the Virgin Mary) at the Divine Liturgy on the Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross. “Thou, o Mother of God, art mystically the garden which was not cultivated, yet brought forth Christ, by Whom the life-bearing wood of the Cross was planted upon the earth, and by it, as it is now exalted, as we worship Him, we glorify Thee.” (Also Grottaferrata)

The tropar of the Conception of St John the Baptist. “Rejoice, thou who wast sterile and bore no child, for behold, thou hast conceived the light of the sun who will clearly enlighten the whole world that suffers in blindness. Dance, o Zachary, and boldly cry out, ‘He that is to be born is the Prophet of the Most high!’ ” (This text contains a very clever pun in Greek; the word “ Ἡλίου – of the sun” is also the genitive case of the name of the prophet Elijah, in whose spirit John foretold the coming of the Messiah. – From the parish of the Assumption in Palazzo Adriano, Sicily.)

The hymn Only-begotten Son, composed by the Emperor Justinian I (527-565) which is sung after the second antiphon at the beginning of every Divine Liturgy. “Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, Who, being immortal, for our salvation didst accept to be incarnate of the holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, and without change didst become man, and was crucified, Christ our God, who trampled death by death, and art one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us!” (Also from Palazzo Adriano.)

The Cherubic hymn at the Procession and Great Entrance with the Holy Gifts. “Let us, who mystically represent the Cherubim, and who sing to the Life-Giving Trinity the thrice-holy hymn, now lay aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of all, escorted invisibly by the angelic orders. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!” (From the church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio at Martorana, Sicily.)

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