Music and Ritual in Medieval Slavia Orthodoxa

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

by Gregory Myers (Author)
©2018 Monographs 236 Pages
Series: Varia Musicologica, Volume 23


This project fills a void in medieval musical scholarship in the West by addressing an area that is virtually terra incognita. Based on newly-accessed primary source material and grounded in the most current scholarship, the English-language monograph-length study, Music and Ritual in Medieval Slavia Orthodoxa: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross investigates the sacred music traditions of the Orthodox Slavs (Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia) during a critical period in the cultural history of the region. The approach taken is interdisciplinary, drawing on recent scholarship in liturgical studies, Byzantine and medieval Slavic history, linguistics and musicology. The study traces the dissemination of liturgical and musical performance practices through the disparate centers of the Eastern Christian world (from Southern Italy, Balkan Peninsula to Kiev and Novgorod). It takes into account the physical locus of the chanting practices, whether urban cathedral or monastery. The medieval Slavs are treated as an autonomous cultural body within the Commonwealth of the Eastern Church.
Set against the shifting liturgical backdrop of the 13th century with its pending liturgical reform, the study addresses aspects of chant performance practice in the Slavic-speaking world. Select hymnography for the celebration are sought in the rubrics of liturgical sources describing its placement in the services, singing personnel, the style of the hymnody and the manner of its musical execution (antiphonal, responsorial). The Feasts of the Holy Cross, observed during the week of September 14, the Third Sunday of the Lenten Fast and Holy Week (Holy Tuesday and Good Friday), serve as case studies for which there is an abundance of unexplored material to be brought to light. The current study presents this material to the Western audience for the first time.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Sigla and Abbreviations
  • List of Tables
  • Prefatory Remarks and Acknowledgements
  • Part I
  • Chapter I: Introduction
  • Chapter II: Slavia Orthodoxa in the 13th Century – at a Liturgical Crossroads: Cathedral vs. Monastery – Jerusalem or Constantinople
  • The Typikon: Identifying the Liturgical Authority Determining the Musical Praxis
  • A. The Copies of the Typikon of the Great Church:
  • (a) Holy Cross No. 40 and Patmos No. 266
  • (b) The Praxapostolos Dresden Ms A104
  • B. The Studite Fusion
  • (a) TAS-OCS – The Typikon of Alexius Studite, Church Slavonic
  • (b) The Typikon of the Monastery of the Theotokos Evergetis
  • (c) The Athonite-Studite Redaction
  • (d) The Typikon of San Salvatore of Messina
  • (e) The Neo-Sabbaitic or Jerusalem Typikon
  • Menaia and Triodia
  • 1. Definition and Development
  • 2. Triodion and Pentecostarion
  • Reconciling Non-Constantinopolitan Elements in Medieval Slavic Service Books
  • Chapter III: Manuscript Profiles
  • (a) The Enina Apostol, NBKM No. 1144
  • (b) The Bitola or Kicevo Triodion, Sofia BAN No. 38
  • (c) The Orbelski Triodion (OrbTr) – South Slavic Archetype of the Studite Synthesis
  • (d) Apostol No. NBKM 882
  • (e) The Zografski Trifologion or Draganov Menaion
  • (f) Other Slavonic Liturgical Sources: 15th and 16th Centuries
  • East Slavic Witnesses
  • RGADA Nos. 131 and 137 – The Il’ina Kniga and the Triodion of Moisei Kianin
  • The Corollary Musical Sources
  • First Generation Musical Sources
  • Tipografsky Ustav (TU) and Blagoveshchensky Kondakar (BK)
  • Second Generation Musical Sources
  • The Lavrsky (LK), Uspensky (UK) and Sinodalny (SK) Kondakaria
  • Psaltikon and Asmatikon
  • Kastoria 8
  • The Sticheraric Repertory
  • Chapter IV: The Chant Types: Troparion, Katavasie, and Hypakoë
  • Working Definitions
  • Stational or Sessional
  • The Sessional Hymn: Poetic Kathisma, Hypakoë, or Sedelen
  • Processional Genres: Music for the Litiya
  • (a) The Katavasie or Hymn of Descent
  • (b) The Kontakion as Processional Hymn Type
  • (c) The Exapostilarion and Photagogikon, as Processional Chants
  • (d) The Trisagion as a Processional Chant
  • On the Multi-Functionality of Hymn-Types: Relabeling, Recasting and Redefining Function
  • Chapter V: Performance Style and Practice
  • (1) Antiphonal vs. Responsorial
  • (2) Perissé and Akroteleuteon
  • (3) Who was Singing? – Congregational participation
  • Part II
  • Chapter VI: The Feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross – September 14
  • Liturgical Context: A. The Order of Service
  • B. The Place of the Hymnody in the Liturgical Sources
  • C. The Oldest South Slavic Witness:
  • a. The Enina Apostol
  • D. Later South Slavic Witnesses of the Exaltation Rite within the Studite Orbit: Three Sources from Zografou Monastery
  • a. Raikov Ms. No. 54 – the Draganov Menaion
  • c. Raikov Ms. No. 53 – A Service Menaion for September, October and November, Serbian Redaction
  • d. Raikov 63: Resurrection Oktoechos, 15th-century, Serbian Redaction
  • e. NBKM Ms. No. 522, The Skopski Menaion
  • f. Apostol Ms. No. NBKM 882
  • g. Apostol Ms. No. NBKM 880
  • h. From the Lenten Triodion: The Bitolski Triodion
  • i. OrbTr
  • E. East Slavic Transmissions and Other Sources
  • The Prefatory Rituals: The Bringing Out of the Holy Cross from the Skeuophylakion, the Washing, and the Veneration
  • The Identification of an Unidentified Antiphon
  • The Singing of the Troparia for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Other Occasions
  • A. The Third Sunday of Great Lent and the Week of the Holy: The Lesser Elevation of the Holy Cross
  • The Prescription for the Singing of the Antiphons for the Royal Hours on Tuesday in Holy Week According to the Tipografsky Ustav
  • B. Good Friday: The Chanted Royal Hours
  • Music for the Antiphons and their Performance
  • The Chanting of the Good Friday Royal Hours According to OrbTr
  • Part III
  • Chapter VII: The Music – Introduction
  • The Oral-Written Binary and the Template for Performance Manuscript – Repertory – Notation
  • The Musical Settings: The Reconstruction of the Antiphons and Stichoi for Performance
  • The Music, Division of Labor and the Elements of Style
  • The Troparia of the Holy Cross
  • Techniques and Devices for Musical Cohesion in Performance; Formulaic Correspondence and Melodic Construction
  • I. Antiphon 1 (Hypakoë): Σήμερον τὸ προφητικὸν πεπλῄρwται ~Дьньсь пророчьское
  • II. Antiphon 2 (Hypakoë): Μόνον ἐπάγη τό ξύλον Χριστὲ τοῦ σταυροῦ σου ~ Тькмо вьдру и ся дрѣво
  • III. Antiphon 3 (Hypakoë): Ἡ Ἐκκλησία βοᾷ σοι ~Црк ви въпиетъ ти
  • IV. The Kontakion of the Feast: Ὁ ὑψωθεὶς ἐν τῷ Σταυρῷ ἑκουσίως ~ Въ нессъи ся на кр□кр꙯стъ волеѫ, Mode IV
  • V. The Troparion of the Veneration/Festal Trisagion: Τόν σταυρόν σου προσκυνοῦμεν δέσποτα ~ Крестѹ твоемѹ, Mode II Plagal/Mode VI
  • The Musical Settings of the Stichera The Stichera for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14 and Select Stichera-Idiomela for the Good Friday Royal Hours
  • The Accompanying Sticheron-Idiomelon in OrbTr
  • Chapter VIII: Summation and Concluding Remarks
  • Texts and Translations
  • Unpublished Sources
  • Secondary Literature
  • Musical Examples
  • First Troparion for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
  • Second Troparion for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
  • Third Troparion for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
  • Kontakion for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, from the Tipografsky Ustav
  • Festal Trisagion for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
  • Transcription of the Kontakion for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, from Codex Ashburnhamensis 64
  • Stichera-Idiomela for the Good Friday Royal Hours
  • Name Index
  • Subject Index
  • Series Index

← 12 | 13 →

Sigla and Abbreviations

BAN – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

BG – Bollentina della Badia Greca di Grottaferrata

BM –Balgarsko Muzikoznanie

BT – Bogoslovskie trudy

CIMAGL – Cahiers de l’Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin

DOP – Dumbarton Oaks Papers

DOS – Dumbarton Oaks Studies

EMBW – Essays on Music in the Byzantine World (Strunk)

HMML – Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, St. John’s University, Minnesota

JAMS – Journal of the American Musicological Society

KMNC – Kirillo-Metodiiskii Nauchen Tsentar, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia

MdO – Musik des Ostens

MMB – Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae

NBKM – National Library Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Sofia, Bulgaria

OCA – Orientalia Christiana Analecta

OrbTr – Orbelski Triodion

OCP – Orientalia Christiana Periodica

ODB – Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium

Dmitrievsky I, II (Dmitrievsky I- Evergetis) – Opisanie Liturgicheskikh Rukopisiei

PB – Palaeobulgarica ← 13 | 14 →

PG – Patriologia Graeca

PK – Polata Knigopisnaia

PSRT – Pervonachal’nyi Slaviano-Russkii Tipikon (Lisitsyn)

RGADA – Russian Archive of Ancient Acts

SEC – Studies in Eastern Chant

TAS-OCS – Typikon of Alexius~Studite-Slavonic (Pentkovskiy)

TKDA – Trudy Kievskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii

TODL – Trudy Otdela Drevnerusskoi Literatury

ZhMP – Zhurnal’ Moskovskoi Patriarkhii

← 14 | 15 →

List of Tables

← 16 | 17 →

Music and Ritual in Medieval Slavia Orthodoxa:
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Prefatory Remarks and Acknowledgements

Intended as the first in a series that explores the ‘mechanics of the music’ within the context of the ritual, the following addresses the musical traditions of the Eastern Church for a particular occasion. The abundance of material for the feasts of the Holy Cross has proven sufficient to produce a study of substantial size. The topic is ‘liturgical performance’ of the sacred plainsong as prescribed by the rubrics.1 The focus is on music and liturgy in Slavia Orthodoxa, addressing particular numbers for these celebrations preserved in the oldest surviving liturgical documents in the Slavonic language within a particular time frame.

As heirs to Byzantine traditions and rituals, the medieval Slavs are treated as an autonomous group within the Byzantine Commonwealth, with the Balkan Slavs at the forefront as progenitors and intermediaries in the transmission of the liturgical texts and the music throughout the Slavic-speaking world. Liturgical manuscripts of Bulgarian and Serbian provenance represent the highpoint of Slavic liturgical development in the late medieval period, i.e., the 13th century. Owing to the dearth of South Slavic musical manuscripts for the same period, East Slavic and Greek Byzantine musical sources are used to supplement with musical illustrations.

The current project had its inception in 2014. A five-month stay at the Centre of Advanced Study in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the generous support of no less than three fellowship opportunities at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) with its growing cache of Slavic ← 17 | 18 → manuscripts, and the Collegeville Institute in Collegeville, Minnesota in 2014–15, allowed me to bring this project to fruition. I single out for special thanks to Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, Director of HMML, and my Bulgarian colleagues Drs. Svetlina Nikolova, Svetlana Kujumdzhieva, and Asen Atanassov, for their insights and support. I also thank my friend and colleague Dr. Claudia Jensen of Seattle, Washington, for her helpful comments on reading a version of my text. The work received particular impetus from the series of ground breaking studies by Russian liturgist Aleksei Pentkovskiy, with whom I had an auspicious meeting in Sofia in October, 2014. Pentkovskiy’s probing of the earliest Slavic sources has called into question long-held assumptions of the origins of Slavic liturgical practices. His comments have proven equally pertinent to the musical customs of the time, and much of this study continues in his direction of investigation.2

1 The emphasis of the following study is on performance practice rather than palaeography which typically dominates Eastern Church music studies.

2 See his “K istorii slavianskogo bogosluzheniia vizantiiskogo obriada v nachal’nyi period (kon. IX-nach. X v.) Addenda et Corrigenda.” BT, Vypusk 46, Izdatel’stvo Moskovskoi Patriarskii Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi, Moskva (2015): 117–146. “‘Okhrid na Rusi’”: Drevnerusskie bogosluzhebnie knigi kak istochnik dlia rekonstruktsii liturgicheskoi traditsii okhridsko-prespanskogo regiona v X–XI stoletiiakh,” in Zbornik na trudovi od megunarodniot nauchen sobir, Okrid, 3–4 Oktomvri 2013, (Skopje 2014), 43–65; “Slavianskoi bogosluzhenie i slavianskaia gimnografiia vizantiiskogo obriada v X veke,” in Liturgische Hymnen nach byzantischem Ritus bei den Slaven in ältester Zeit. Beiträge einer internationalen Tagung. Bonn, 7–10 (Juni 2005), 16–16; “K istorii slavianskogo bogosluzheniia vizantiiskogo obriada v nachal’nyi period (kon. IX-nach. X v.): dva drevnikh slavianskikh kanona Arkhangelu Mihailu,” BT, (vyp. 43–44 2012): 401–442; “Bogosluzhebnii sinaksar’ konstantinopol’skogo monastyria Khrista Chelovekoliubtsa (Istanbul Patriarchal Library, Panagia Kamariotissa, Cod. 29): Sentiabr’ 1–14.” Bogoslovskii Vestnik, (No. 4, 2004): 177–208; “Ierusalimskii ustav i ego slavianskie perevody v XIV stoletii,” in Prevodite prez XIV stoletie na Balkanite. Dokladi ot mezhdunarodnata konferentsiia Sofiia, 26–28 iuni 2003. Sofia: Izdatelska kashta “Gorekspres”, (2004), 153–172; “Ierusalimskii typikon v Konstantinopole v paleologovskii period.” ZhMP 5 (2003): 77–87; “Studiiskii ustav i ustavy studiiskoy traditsii. ZhMP (5, 2001): 69–80. “Konstantinopol’skii i ierusalimskii bogosluzhebnye ustavy. ZhMP 4 (2001): 70–78; “Liturgicheskie reformy v istorii Russkoi Tserkvi i ikh kharakternye osobennosti,” Bogoslovie. ZhMP (2, 2001): 72–80; with Maria Yovcheva, “Prazdnichnye i voskresnye blazhenny v vizantiiskom i slavianskom bogosluzhenii VIII–XIII vv.” PB, (XXV 3, 2001): 31–60; Tipikon Patriarkha Aleksiia Studita v Vizantii i na Rusi. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Moskovskoi Patriarkhii, 2001.

← 18 | 19 →

Part I

← 19 | 20 →

← 20 | 21 →

Chapter I:  Introduction

During the Medieval period plainsong was integral to worship throughout the Christian world, East and West. A variety of chant dialects distinguished by language and liturgical practice were unified by that universal role: to adorn worship. Latin West or Greek Byzantine East, music and liturgy enjoyed an organic relationship: text and music were conceived holistically in a unified process, with the former as progenitor of the latter. Poet and musician were also one and the same. Textual underlay – clarity, declamation, and syllabication – was paramount: whether a translation or an original literary creation, the poet fashioned the music to seamlessly fit the syllabication of the texts to highlight the meaning. In turn, the liturgical infrastructure supported both text and music. Music’s primary function was to cover and support all liturgical action. Ritual and music also provided social cohesion through the involvement of the populace. John Baldovin has written that in the Byzantine capital public worship was ‘participatory.’1 As a communal event, medieval liturgy was imbued with a dynamism that has become more austere and static over the centuries. Vasileios Marinis concurs, writing,

Much has been said about the gradual separation of congregation participation from the liturgical action and the compartmentalization of worship in the Middle and Late Byzantine periods… Yet, it is inaccurate to think of the Medieval Byzantine liturgy as a mere stage performance attended by a passive audience…2


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (March)
Rus’ typikon Studite Constantinople Okhrid kontakion refrain menaion Triodion Matins Lent Good Friday choir hypakoë chant liturgy Exaltation Cross Royal Hours troparion Balkans
Bern, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 236 pp., 24 fig. b/w

Biographical notes

Gregory Myers (Author)

Gregory Myers is an independent scholar, publisher and bibliographer residing in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He holds a MLIS degree and a PhD. in historical musicology from the University of British Columbia. Myers specializes in the music of Eastern Europe, specifically Russia and the Balkans, and researches, publishes extensively and lectures on issues of medieval music (Byzantium and the Slavs) and the post-World War II musical developments in Eastern Europe.


Title: Music and Ritual in Medieval Slavia Orthodoxa
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237 pages