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Archive for the ‘Chant and/or Music’ Category

I listen to the Paschal stichera and can’t help but feel like I’m bursting with joy. The hymnology of our Church is so poetic, rich in spiritual wisdom it so deeply penetrates the human heart. There is nothing that can compare to it. Christ is risen and death is overcome! 

Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered!

A sacred Pascha today hath been shown unto us: a Pascha new and holy, a Pascha mystical, a Pascha all venerable, a Pascha that is Christ the Redeemer; a Pascha immaculate, a great Pascha; a Pascha of the faithful; a Pascha that hath opened the gates of Paradise unto us; a Pascha that doth sanctify all the faithful.

As smoke vanisheth so let them vanish!

Come from the vision, O ye women, bearers of good tidings, and say ye unto Sion: receive from us the good tidings of the Resurrection of Christ; adorn thyself, exult, and rejoice, O Jerusalem, for thou hast seen Christ the King come forth from the tomb like a bridegroom in procession.

So let sinners perish at the presence of God and let the righteous be glad!

The myrrh-bearing women in the deep dawn stood before the tomb of the Giver of life; they found an angel sitting upon the stone, and he, speaking to them, said thus: Why seek ye the living among the dead? Why mourn ye the incorruptible amid corruption? Go, proclaim unto His disciples.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein!

Pascha the beautiful, Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha, the Pascha all-venerable hath dawned upon us. Pascha, with joy let us embrace one another. O Pascha! Ransom from sorrow, for from the tomb today, as from a bridal chamber hath Christ shone forth, and hath filled the women with joy, saying: proclaim unto the apostles.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

It is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant for the feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us say: Brethren, even to them that hate us, let us forgive all things on the Resurrection, and thus let us cry out:

Christ is risen from the dead,  trampling down death by death,  And on those in the tombs bestowing life.

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This beautiful Christmas carol was the inspiration for my novelette about the great king and martyr Wenceslas (Vacslav). You can read a sample of this novelette – Chapters 1 & 2 here and Chapters 3 & 4 here.

The above video is great because after the hymn (sung by the great Canadian band Crash Test Dummies) it gives some of the history around the saint’s martyrdom.

Merry Christmas!

holly

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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.

You can purchase the CD on Valley Entertainment’s website here.

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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