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Archive for the ‘Chant and/or Music’ Category

Divna - Divine Light - 1500x1500The well-known Serbian chantor Divna Ljubojevic has a new CD out, “In Search for Divine Light”. When I was offered a copy in exchange for a review I quickly said yes as I have, like many of you no doubt, been moved by Divna’s beautiful voice on many occasions. In this CD Divna is joined by her ensemble, the Melodists; the recorded it at the Vavedenje Monastery in Belgrade. Her hauntingly beautiful voice gently invokes a peaceful, grace-filled environment. Similar to her other pieces of work, this CD brings liturgical hymns to life in a new way but does not detract from traditional Orthodox music to the point where you don’t recognize it.

Although one or two of the tracks are a little “too choral” for my liking, for instance in Track 8, Come Let us Bless Joseph of Everlasting Memory, I found the accompanying choir a tad overpowering. But, for the most part, the Melodists add to the beauty of the hymns, they do not detract from them. I would recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys Divna’s incredible voice, and the melodies of hymns that speak to the soul despite the language sounding foreign to some ears.

Below is a video featuring the track “Blessed is the Man”.

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Ode 6-9 of the Supplicatory Canon to St. Xenia of St. Petersburg are sung in these two videos. I listen to them all the time, and thought you might enjoy praying to St. Xenia as well.

(Source) The life of this famous fool-for-Christ:

Saint Xenia lived during the eighteenth century, but little is known of her life or of her family. She passed most of her life in Petersburg during the reigns of the empresses Elizabeth and Catherine II.

Xenia Grigorievna Petrova was the wife of an army officer, Major Andrew Petrov. After the wedding, the couple lived in St Petersburg. St Xenia became a widow at the age of twenty-six when her husband suddenly died at a party. She grieved for the loss of her husband, and especially because he died without Confession or Holy Communion.

Once her earthly happiness ended, she did not look for it again. From that time forward, Xenia lost interest in the things of this world, and followed the difficult path of foolishness for the sake of Christ. The basis for this strange way of life is to be found in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:18-24, 1 Cor. 2:14, 1 Cor. 3:18-19). The Lord strengthened her and helped her to bear sorrow and misfortune patiently for the next forty-five years.

She started wearing her husband’s clothing, and insisted that she be addressed as “Andrew Feodorovich.” She told people that it was she, and not her husband, who had died. In a certain sense, this was perfectly true. She abandoned her former way of life and experienced a spiritual rebirth. When she gave away her house and possessions to the poor, her relatives complained to the authorities. After speaking to Xenia, the officials were conviced that she was in her right mind and was entitled to dispose of her property as she saw fit. Soon she had nothing left for herself, so she wandered through the poor section of Petersburg with no place to lay her head. She refused all assistance from her relatives, happy to be free of worldly attachments.

When her late husband’s red and green uniform wore out, she clothed herself in rags of those colors. After a while, Xenia left Petersburg for eight years. It is believed that she visited holy Elders and ascetics throughout Russia seeking instruction in the spiritual life. She may have visited St Theodore of Sanaxar (February 19), who had been a military man himself. His life changed dramatically when a young officer died at a drinking party. Perhaps this officer was St Xenia’s husband. In any case, she knew St Theodore and profited from his instructions.

St Xenia eventually returned to the poor section of Petersburg, where she was mocked and insulted because of her strange behavior. When she did accept money from people it was only small amounts, which she used to help the poor. She spent her nights praying without sleep in a field outside the city. Prayer strengthened her, and in her heart’s conversation with the Lord she found the support she needed on her difficult path.

When a new church was being built in the Smolensk cemetery, St Xenia brought bricks to the site. She did this in secret, during the night, so that no one would know.

Soon her great virtue and spiritual gifts began to be noticed. She prophesied future events affecting the citizens of Petersburg, and even the royal family. Against her will, she became known as someone pleasing to God, and nearly everyone loved her.They said, “Xenia does not belong to this world, she belongs to God.” People regarded her visits to their homes or shops as a great blessing. St Xenia loved children, and mothers rejoiced when the childless widow would stand and pray over a baby’s crib, or kiss a child. They believed that the blessed one’s kiss would bring that child good fortune.

St Xenia lived about forty-five years after the death of her husband, and departed to the Lord at the age of seventy-one. The exact date and circumstances of her death are not known, but it probably took place at the end of the eighteenth century. She was buried in the Smolensk cemetery.

By the 1820s, people flocked to her grave to pray for her soul, and to ask her to intercede with God for them. So many visitors took earth from her grave that it had to be replaced every year. Later, a chapel was built over her grave.

Those who turn to St Xenia in prayer receive healing from illness, and deliverance from their afflictions. She is also known for helping people who seek jobs.

0124xenia-petersburg04

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This is Psalm 50, chanted in Romanian. The best part about this video – even better than the beautiful photos – is the fact that the voices reach deep into the listener’s chest and stir even hardened hearts, inspiring in them divine longing. Truly prayer transcends the intellect and Pentecost happens each and every time a person listens to a foreign language and is affected in the same manner one who understands is.

Also, Good Strength to everyone on the New Calendar who is about to start the two-week fast!

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This video is of one of my all time favourite psalms, chanted at one of my all time favourite churches, and by one of my all time favourite chanters!

Hope everyone is managing this Great Lent, and I hope everyone is remembering that: “The mercy of the Lord is unto eternity, even unto eternity, upon those that fear Him”. And by “fear” it is to say “upon those that reverence, love, respect Him”. Whether you’re going through Lent like a spiritual triathlon runner, or barely making it to the finish line on account of your spiritual slothfullness like me, I think we can all take comfort in knowing that God’s mercy is unto eternity!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again (John 4:13)

An excerpt from The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Women’s Monastery, published by Conciliar Press, a translation I did of the Greek folk song, Η ΕυχήThe Prayer (pp. 170-1). To hear a Greek version of this song see the video embedded below.

From Pharaoh of Egypt, slavery departing,

With my guide Moses, to Sinai arriving.

 

Mount Sinai to ascend! Oh how much I desire,

To the holy summit’s peak and the Prayer to acquire.

 

May God give me patience on the harsh ascent,

Fortitude, endurance, for the Prayer’s acquirement.

 

Primarily obedience, the Scriptures and watchfulness

Combined with holy silence enhance true prayerfulness.

 

In order for you the Prayer to properly say,

From your mind worldly things throw completely away.

 

In the beginning be sure to say the Prayer orally,

And in due time you will find you say it noetically.

 

On the words of the Prayer hold full attention,

For if you imagine you’re in danger of delusion.

 

seraphimakiThe Prayer exasperates the one who is tempting,

Wherefore don’t be disconcerted by his relentless attacking.

 

From the tree of prayer the sweetest fruits you receive,

Oh! What honey gushes forth you’re unable to conceive.

 

How the Prayer works, to tell you don’t ask me,

I’m unable to explain, for it’s a divine mystery.

 

When the Prayer energizes within, continually,

Then guard it well, carefully, with much humility.

 

My venerable elder, my noetic Moses, guiding,

To acquire the Prayer bestow upon me your blessing.

 

The Prayer she gives; Christians she blesses,

The Mother of God, the Most Holy Abbess.

 

Mount Sinai to ascend! Oh how much I desire,

To the holy summit’s peak and the Prayer to acquire.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce, on the feast of St. Anthony the Great, during the years St. Gregory Palamas lived in Thessaloniki, he decided not to attend the “panigiri” (feast) at the church of St. Anthony on account of the crowds. Instead he stayed in his cell and prayed alone. (If you’ve ever been to a panigiri in Greece you know how crazy the crowds can be). While he was praying St. Anthony the Great appeared to him and admonished him for not attending his church in Thessaloniki. So St. Gregory got up and went.

Today, located in the same place the church of St. Anthony was in St. Gregory’s time, the newer (18th century) church of St. Anthony was jam packed with people there to honour, remember, and receive the blessing of St. Anthony, the father of monasticism. I took the above photo from the narthex (gives you an idea of the crowd). The video below is from the vespers service last night.

(To read more about St. Anthony and see his life in icons, go here.)

O Father Anthony, you imitated the zealous Elijah.

You followed the straight paths of the Baptist

and became a desert dweller.

By prayer you confirmed the universe.

Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.

saint's kolyva

The saint’s kolyva

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“The Huron Carol” (or “Twas in the Moon of Wintertime”) is Canada’s oldest Christmas song, written in 1643 by the Roman Catholic missionary Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit. He went to Lake Huron, a place located on the north shore of Lake Ontario where the Huron natives lived. He wrote the lyrics of the carol in the native language of the Huron people; the song’s original Huron title is “Jesous Ahatonhia” (“Jesus, he is born”).  The well-known English lyrics were written in 1926 by Jessie Edgar Middleton.

Laying aside the fact that St. John Chrysostom discourages the telling of God’s great economy in allegorical forms, I find this carol endearing. The best version is done by Canadian band, Crash Test Dummies on their 2002 Christmas album, however I cannot find it anywhere on the internet to share with you. The version embedded below is sung in native Huron language, French, and English. The English lyrics are as follows:

‘Twas in the moon of winter time when all the birds had fled,

that Mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead.

Before their light the stars grew dim,

And wand’ring hunters heard the hymn:

“Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born; In Excelsis Gloria!”

 

Within a lodge of broken bark the tender Babe was found.

A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped His beauty’round.

And as the hunter braves drew nigh,

the angel song rang loud and high:

“Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born; In Excelsis Gloria!”

 

The earliest moon of winter time is not so round and fair

as was the ring of glory on the helpless Infant there.

While Chiefs from far before Him knelt,

with gifts of fox and beaver pelt.

“Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born; In Excelsis Gloria!”

 

O children of the forest free, O sons of Manitou,

The Holy Child of earth and heav’n is born today for you.

Come, kneel before the radiant Boy

who brings you beauty, peace and joy.

“Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born; In Excelsis Gloria!”

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