Uh oh…it is that time of year again. Psyche! It’s not an uh oh at all, but ’tis the season and to celebrate The Public Records has decided to bring to you an album of different sacred music from around the world each week. Our stocks are limited so we will be focusing on the Christian world at the moment, but as we grow, so will our samples of sounds. We ask you to bear with us.

For our first selection, we share with you Byzantine Hymns of the Greek Orthodox Church (Philips World Series PHC 9102) which can be found in our ‘Miscellaneous’ section on shelf A3. This album features Spyridon Peristers, first chanter of the Athens Cathedral, with a backing Chorus with an “Issokratima”/accompaniment. Readings are by Revs. E. Bonoris and A. Tsoumaris.

Having its musical roots in the pre-Christian world of the region, Byzantine Music is the traditional chant of the Greek Orthodox Church – which became the official religion of Byzantium as it eventually adopted Greek over Latin as the eastern part of the Roman empire. In 330 AD Constantinople became the new capitol and as the western half of the empire fell into disarray, the eastern ‘Greek’ half continued for another millenia until 1453 when the Ottoman Turks conquered the city.

As Christianity gradually became the dominant and then official state religion as theology and politics mixed to create a theocracy which attempted to recreate the Kingdom of Heaven on earth with the emperor assuming the role of God in the mortal realm, the rest of society followed suit.

It was during this time that the liturgical music developed under several prominent hymnographers and melodists such as St. Athanasius the Great, Kyriakus, Romanos the Melodist, John Glykys, and Peter the Peloponnesian to name a few. These musicians were active in the early, middle, and late periods of Byzantium and continously matured these types of chants.

The Orthodox hymns featured on this albums are all chants and the Orthodox chant is always completely vocal whether it is performed solo or with multiple singers (the Issokratima). These chants are also always homophonic – meaning that the backround chanters are singing the same rythym and melody as the lead voice. There is some harmonic consonance (the happy sounds) when the Ison or dominant tone occasionally alternates.

Now I could bore you with more theory, but it has been a long time since highschool (and I didn’t really get it back then, either). Instead join us to enjoy these otherworldy sounds of this ancient style and who knows; with the candlelight, a few glasses of Nobilissima Pinot Grigio, and a side of our Garlic Bread you may even find yourself there……

Another thank you to F&M for this donation!