Beautiful spiritual songs full of grandeur

Orthodox music of Eastern Christians

In the Orthodox temples and monasteries of Eastern Christians, liturgies and other religious gatherings hold special spiritual songs with extraordinary beauty and grandeur . On the one hand , they are solo songs of priests, to whom congregational singing corresponds to the congregation of believers or monks. Musical instruments (except bells) are not used in Orthodox temples - the Orthodox Church is of the opinion that the best "instrument" for glorifying God is the human voice .
After all: "In the beginning was the wordand the word was with God and the Word was God, "he says in the introduction to the Gospel of John; tones emitted by musical instruments affects human emotions that are not controlled by reason and are doing so from a spiritual reflection of God's word.

  The impressive traits of Orthodox liturgical chants are extremely deep bass . They evoke the depth and mystery of God's nature. Orthodox spiritual songs traditionally sung mostly in církevně- Old Slavonic language *), hereinafter referred to as Greek, sometimes in Arabic. currently in Orthodox worship are increasingly used translated texts in the local vernacular - Orthodox churches in individual countries are autocephalous (independent).  
*) Old Slavonic was about the 9th century. common language of all Slavs. When the individual national languages developed, Old Slavonic remained a liturgical language (similar to Latin in the Western Church until the Second Vatican Council).

Orthodoxy - Historical Development
To shed light on the
specific nature of Orthodox music and spirituality , it may be interesting to briefly recapitulate the origins and historical development of Orthodoxy . Christianity , whose central legend described in the New Testament is the work and teachings of Jesus Christ , his crucifixion and resurrection , originated in the Far East - Palestine. Earlier legends about the religious history of the nation of Israel, forming the content of the Old Testament , also come from the same area . Under the influence of the apostles Peter and Paul, the Christian religion spread from the Far East to Greece and to Rome . In the Roman Empire, Christianity was initially persecuted - it was the consolation of the oppressed and humiliated. During the first three centuries, however, Christianity spread unstoppably. It was attractive both in its message of overcoming death by resurrection, in its humanistic and progressive ideas, and in its moral code. The idea of equality for all people was truly revolutionary at the time! Christianity has ceased to be persecuted since 311, when Emperor Constantine issued an edict of tolerance. The head of the Christian church became the bishop of Rome (original word episcopate = overseer ), later called the pope ( papa = father), The Holy Father - considered to be "infallible" successor of St. Peter ....
  Emperator Konstantin , who accepted the Christian faith, was built in the eastern Greek part of the Roman Empire - the Byzantine Empire - the new capital of Constantinople (Constantinople, today's Turkish Istanbul), which at that time became the largest and most cultural city in the world (apart from the then unknown cities in Europe in China).
  Over the next decades and centuries, the divisions between the two centers - Rome and Constantinople - deepened. As a result, the Roman Empire and the Christian Church gradually split both linguistically and geographically - into Latin-speaking Rome in the west and Greek-speaking Constantinople in the east. The real causes of the controversy were undoubtedly powerful, but the pretext was some belief disputes about the nature of the Holy Trinity ("filioque" - the Holy Spirit comes not only from God the Father but also from the Son), or the worship of holy images (iconoclasm - iconoclasm, versus iconography - painting and worship of holy images).
  A serious rift occurred in 1054, when the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated each other. This rift was definitively sealed by the barbaric invasion of Constantinople by crusader troops in 1204, during which papal "Christians" often treated the Orthodox brethren worse than Muslim enemies. Since then, the Roman Catholic Church in the west and the Orthodox Church in the East have separated and developed independently. Name Orthodox or Orthodox ( Orthodoxia : Gr. Ortho = correct, true, doxa = learning, opinion, belief ) comes from the fact that the Eastern Church tried to keep traditional beliefs based on the Gospels and did not accept some additions and changes promoted by the Church of Rome, including the institution of the Pope *). The violent penetration of Islam, which culminated in the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, led to the collapse of the Byzantine Empire; the focus of Orthodox Christianity has shifted to the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe and also to some countries of Southern Europe - Greece (Athos is significant), Bulgaria, Yugoslavia .....
*) Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church has a hierarchical structure . Unlike the authoritarian and "infallible" pope, the Orthodox patriarch is considered only the " first among equals ."

Orthodoxy in our country
In our country Enlightened brothers were brought to our lands by the enlightened brothers Prophet Cyril ( Constantine ) and Methodius from Thessaloniki-Byzantine-Greece during their famous mission in 863 to the Great Moravian Empire. These Eastern heralds did not come with a "fire and sword," spreading violence, misery, and suffering (as missionaries from the West often did), but with an education and culture humbly passed on to their disciples and the people of the Slavic lands.
  Even before that, priests from the west , especially from Bavaria, sporadically penetrated us . However, they were often not so much concerned with spreading the true Christian faith as with subjugation of power  our countries under the influence of the German emperors (evangelization with "fire and sword"). Prince Rastislav was acutely aware of this danger and asked the Byzantine Empire (with a message sent to the Byzantine Emperor Michael III) to send Christian preachers and bishops to evangelize the people of the Great Moravian Empire in their Slavic language and in the spirit of true Christian faith, without lateral power-political intentions. The Byzantine emperor complied and entrusted this task to the educated and enlightened brothers Cyril and Methodius, who, in addition to their other excellent abilities, knew the Slavic language well. Cyril, who was a very erudite philologist, created (based on the Greek alphabet) a new alphabet for the needs of Slavic languages ( Glagolitic , Cyrillic), which very well reflected the pronunciation used in the Slavic languages.
  The mission of Cyril and Methodius was very successful . However, after the death of Methodius in 885 (Cyril no longer lived at that time) , when his successor became an educated and enlightened Gorazd , the power forces from Germany and Rome decided to use the situation to destroy the results of the Cyril and Methodius Mission and establish their dominion . They used the infamous treacherous bishop of Wiching in Nitra, whose ambition was to obtain the archbishop's throne. He used intrigues to overthrow Gorazd and, with the help of German soldiers , imprison all the disciples and followers of Cyril and Methodius , cruelly torture them, and finally expel them from the country.. Some of them then worked in the countries of south-eastern Europe (eg St. Clement in Bulgaria), where they were highly valued due to their education and decisively contributed to the evangelization of these countries in the Orthodox spirit. Thanks to these violence , our countries eventually came under the influence of the Western Catholic Church .
  The Slavic (Old Slavic) language was then used only sporadically in the liturgy. It was, for example, in the Sázava Monastery founded by the enlightened abbot St. Procopius in the 1930s. and then during the time of Charles IV in the Emmaus Monastery in Slovany. However, it never lasted long - in the end the arrogance and intolerance of the Catholic Church prevailed and the Slavic monks were expelled. However, the admirable work of Cyril and Methodius was not forgotten, lived in Slavic hearts (in our country it was again vividly remembered during the National Revival). This led in 1880 to their recognition and canonization by the Catholic Church; in 1981 they were (together with St. Benedict) declared "co-patrons of Europe".
  Under the influence of the National Revival in the 19th century, many enlightened people gradually realized where our true roots are.and began to take a keen interest in Orthodoxy. However, the Germanic and right-wing ruling circles of the time did not allow more extensive activities of this kind, as they feared the spread of Pan-Slavism. Only a very modest operation of the Orthodox Discussion and the Czechoslovak Orthodox Community was possible. The Orthodox Church could begin to officially operate in our country only after 1918, when our nations emerged from the domination and oppression of German rule, and under the influence of universally proclaimed freedom and democracy, a free religious life could begin . In 1921, the first Czech Orthodox bishop, Gorazd (originally named Matěj Pavlík), was ordained for Moravia in Belgrade, Yugoslavia . He took the name Gorazd as a symbol of continuity with the Cyril and Methodius tradition- Gorazd was the first Slavic bishop as the successor of St. Methods (+885), as mentioned above. In 1924, Bishop Gorazd and the faithful Orthodox formed an Orthodox eparchy under Serbian jurisdiction based in Prague. Orthodox believers in Bohemia and Moravia then built more than ten new churches from their own resources (the enlightened archimandrite Andrej V. Kolomacký, in a decisive way, contributed to this, both with his architectural designs and artistic design, and with his own hands during the construction!).
  The successfully developing Orthodox Church in our country was tragically affected by World War II. Due to the patriotic and Slavic-oriented spirit of Orthodoxy, fascist persecution manifested itself here in full. Bishop Gorazd ahundreds of other Orthodox believers were murdered , and large numbers were imprisoned in concentration camps.
  After the war, the Orthodox Church was able to develop again in our country. There were about 20,000 Orthodox believers from Gorazd's Czech and Moravian-Silesian eparchy, who were significantly strengthened when about 19,000 Czechs, mostly of Orthodox faith, returned to Czechoslovakia from Volhynia in 1947 (they were descendants of Czechs who emigrated to Russia in 2 . mid-19th century for economic reasons). Immediately after the war, the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia came under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, but only for a short time - in 1951, the Russian Orthodox Church granted the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia autocephality (independence).

Orthodox spirituality
Orthodox Christianity has most of its beliefs in common with the Catholic and Protestant faiths. Certain differences of faith and considerable differences in the liturgy , in the practice of the faith and in the organization of the Church, stem from the nearly 1,000-year-old separation and independent development of Eastern and Western Christianity. As mentioned above, the Orthodox Church adhered more to traditional beliefs based on the early Christian interpretation of the Gospels and did not accept the amendments and reforms promoted by the Roman Church. It does not recognize the authority of the Pope of Rome
(whom the Catholic Church claims to be the "infallible" successor of St. Peter) and does not demand the celibacy of priests. The Orthodox layout of the church year is still governed by the Julian calendar(introduced in the time of Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar), which, due to the Western Gregorian calendar, leads to certain time shifts of Christian holidays - Christmas, Easter and holidays derived from them.
The Orthodox liturgy is entirely based on spiritual singing , in which all believers participate in the congregational passages. And without the use of musical instruments - Christians praise God in a "living voice" carrying the word, not inanimate instruments. Together with Jesus Christ, Mary also enjoys immense respect in the Orthodox Church, and is called "the Blessed Virgin " here.

Orthodox cross

The symbol of most Christian churches is the cross, pointing out according to legend to the cruel way of Christ's death by crucifixion. The Orthodox cross evolved from the Byzantine double patriarchal cross. It has three logs:
  The upper short beam of the double cross represents a table with the inscription "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" in Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Pilate had this sign nailed to the cross of Christ, according to the custom of the time, to show the guilt of the convicts. The middle long beam is on the outstretched hand, for which Christ was nailed to the cross. The lower short crossbar of the Orthodox cross (otherwise serving as a footrest) is turned obliquely, diagonal. It symbolizes a kind of "signpost". The raised end points to heaven, where Christ and also one of the criminals crucified with Christ on the right side - the one who repented and Christ granted him the grace of forgiveness and invited him to the kingdom of heaven. The second - lowered - end of the crossbar points to hell, where the second criminal (crucified from the left), who did not show remorse, went.
Orthodox Icons
Besides contemplation and spiritual singing is an important part of Orthodox spirituality and reverence for icons (ie. Ikonolatrie or iconodule ). Icon *) is a stylized allegorical (symbolic) depiction of Christ, St. Mary, apostles and other saints, or biblical scenes. The design of the icon is characterized by flatness (spatiality, absence of the usual perspective - "board" image, sometimes even an inverted perspective), sobriety and static - the supernaturalness of God and the spirituality of saints is emphasized by flatness, a certain geometrization and ornamentalism. The depicted motif is not set in a realistic landscape, but in a stylized background. The aim is to focus attention on the main theme, which is torn from ordinary reality and is as if set in the plane of "aboveground", spiritual. According to Orthodox terminology, icons are not painted, but "written" - iconographersthey are not considered painters in the usual artistic sense; they are often priests and monks in Orthodox monasteries. The icon is usually made as a board image without a frame. Some icons are decorated with gems and metal wrought ornaments (sometimes gold).
*) The Greek word eikon originally referred to an image in a general sense. Later, this concept narrowed its meaning to an idealized depiction carrying religious content. In a similar narrow sense, the word icon is now used for symbolic shapes in computer graphics.
  The icon does not serve as an artistic image, but as a spiritual object, depicting the gospel message. The symbolism of the icon goes deeper than the usual image. Rather than the plot, a certain one is displayed
  spiritual idea . The icon is not a representation of this world, it is a kind of "window" to the spiritual dimensions, to eternity. A stylized face surrounded by a halo emerges from a neutral abstract background depicting the eternity and infinity of celestial spaces. The light is dim and seems to radiate from within. According to early Christian spirituality, with the coming of Christ, space and time melt into infinity - the temporary and the final are replaced by the absolute.
  Furthermore, the icons usually show certain attributes of the saint (book, sword, branch, etc.) and sometimes an illuminated text inscription. A cross is inscribed in the halo around the head of Christ (pantokratos - omniscient), the three arms of which are provided with large Greek letters with symbolic meaning (see the left picture below): O mega - "being, being who is";
  O mikron - "he who is to come"; H - "has already arrived"; together they form the word "omn" - general .
  Orthodox Christians believe that the icon is a sacred image - that the saint in question is spiritually present in the icon . Orthodox churches and monasteries preserve a number of historically and artistically valuable icons, to whom local traditions attribute miraculous works. Respect for the icons is manifested by bowing, lighting candles in front of them, sometimes even kissing **).

**) In the early history of the Eastern Byzantine Church, however, there were transitional periods (especially in the years 726-843) of the so-called iconoclasm  

(iconoclasm) - rejection of icons and their destruction. It was argued that reverence for icons is idolatry, which God forbids (through Moses' mouth) in the Old Testament. Many artistically valuable icons were destroyed during the iconoclasm period.
  After all, there have been many sharp ideological and theological disputes in the history of the Eastern and Western Churches , which today seem to us to be pointless, difficult to understand and absurd. It was, for example, a dispute between monophysitism (according to which Christ had only a divine nature, not a human one) and Nestorianism (attributing to Christ two persons - divine and human, with Mary being the mother of only the human part of Christ). Another was the controversy over the nature of the Holy Trinity, called filioque - the question of whether the Holy Spirit comes not only from God the Father, but also from the Son - from Christ. ..?.

    Icons Of Jesus Christ And The Blessed Virgin Mary                             Iconostasis

The central architectural element in the Orthodox church is the so-called iconostasis - a wall with three entrances decorated with icons. It separates the altar space for priests ( apse - symbolizes the kingdom of heaven) from the main nave ( solei ) for believers (probably has its origin in the temple curtain, separating according to the Old Testament in the Jerusalem hut a "sacred" place for sacrifices from the rest of the space) . In the altar space behind the iconostasis, there is a sacred prestol in the middle - the main sacrificial table on which the ceremony of transforming bread and wine takes place. There is also a side sacred table of jokes , on which bread and wine are prepared for the liturgy (see below) .
  The side passages in the iconostasis serve for deacons or deacons assisting in the liturgy, the middle (" tsarist ") entrance for the chief celebrant and for the procession of bread and wine for the Eucharist. On the iconostasis there are a number of icons, which depict mainly Christ and Mary, the apostles, the Last Supper, the saint to whom the temple is dedicated, angels and more.
  Statues of Christ and saints, so common in Catholic churches and public spaces, are not used by the Orthodox Church - they emphasize the physical side with their three dimensions , while flat icons emphasize the spiritual side .
  The characteristic features of Orthodox spirituality include a certain inwardness, joy and unpretentiousness. Even in the Middle Ages, the Orthodox Church was not tainted by such shameful crimes and distortions as the inquisition processes associated with the burning of "heretics," holiness, greed, and the aggressive use of power that were characteristic of the Western Catholic Church. Another peculiar feature of Orthodoxy - the consistent observance of traditions , including the oldest of early Christianity, may now appear to be an anachronism. Paradoxically, however, it is in the modern world, characterized by rapid dynamics, twists and value relativism, where people lack grounding in more permanent and universal values , this feature of immutability and continents of Orthodoxy canto be attractive to many people.

  Literary, Orthodox spirituality is reflected in a number of works - for example, in the first two chapters of "The Brothers Karamazov" by F.M. Dostoevsky (the figure of old Zosima), or in the story "On Holy Night" by A.P.Cechov
(after all, his personal life experience resonates to some extent with ferryman Andrej ...) .

The style of the Orthodox liturgy and music
Orthodox music is most often used directly in temples, where it forms not only a part, but often also the content of the Orthodox liturgy . Virtually the entire liturgy served in Orthodox churches is sung (the spoken word is used only in sermons) - both the solo singing of the celebrating priest and the choir singing of believers and monks (usually 8 voices and more). The classical Byzantine Eastern liturgy of this kind is the " Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom " (Greek : Chrysostomos=golden mouthed) , dating from the 6th century (following the early Christian liturgy written by Basil the Great ). It consists of three parts :
These are preparatory ceremonies before the liturgy itself, in which the faithful do not take part, but the priests perform them in the altar space behind a closed iconostasis. Bread and wine for the Eucharist are prepared on the sacred table (" joke ") . Fermented bread is used here ( "Christ is the leaven of all spiritual life" ), called prosfor . The part in the shape of a lamb (symbolizing Christ) and then other parts in memory of the Virgin Mary, saints, as well as deceased believers and living Orthodox Christians, are cut out of it . The bread is placed on a liturgical plate with a base ( disco), the other parts are in the middle of the lamb and around. Red wine and water are poured into the chalice.
The liturgy of catechumens 
is the first public part of the service. The name comes from the fact that the words of the gospel and ecclesiastical doctrine are communicated to believers preparing for baptism ( catechumens ). It begins with the singing "Blessed be the kingdom of the Father and the Son ..." (see below), then ectenia, antiphons. The priest brings out a large book of the Gospel from the small entrance , singing tropars and condaks (short hymns), a tridental song, excerpts from the Gospel.
The Eucharist 
or communion is the culmination of the liturgy. After the Cherubín Song, a ceremony called the great entrance takes place, in which the servants of the clergy emerge from the iconostasis through the side door and carry " venerable gifts " - bread and wine (bread for discos and wine in a chalice, previously prepared for a joke during a proskomidia ). They walk around the iconostasis or across the whole temple and, after solemn prayers, enter back through the central entrance of the iconostasis back to the altar space; they lay bread and wine on the holy table . The ceremony of the great entrance symbolizes the path of Jesus Christ with the cross on Golgotha ??and his crucifixion. The following is a confession of faith in the
Nice-Constantinople version. During the Eucharistic canonthe priest sings the message of Christ at the Last Supper "Take and eat ..." (see below), raising the bread and wine with the invocation ( epiclesis ) of the Holy Spirit to descend and spiritually transform the gifts presented into the body and blood of Christ . The lamb and other pieces of bread are then crushed and placed in a goblet of wine. This spiritually transformed bread and wine is first received by the priests in the altar, then the priests come out of it through the " holy entrance " and carry the chalice from which they distribute communion to the faithful. Receiving Both Kinds - the body and blood of Christ - the bread and wine that is served on spoons to believers. Only baptized Orthodox Christians who have prepared for fasting, prayer and confession may take part in the Eucharist. Christians believe that through holy communion they connect spiritually with Christ, help them free themselves from selfishness and other negative desires and sin, and lead them on a path of "deification."
  The liturgy ends with the final blessing and release of the believers in peace.

The Orthodox liturgical "ordinarium" (which is similar in structure to the Catholic one in some respects) generally consists of a number of sung parts from a musical point of view :

Orthodox spiritual songs often have an anthemic character, reinforcing the very meaning of the words. The charm of Orthodox sacred music stands out especially during the liturgy in the Orthodox Church , where it is enhanced by a mysterious space lit by the flickering light of a large number of candles, the scent of incense, icons radiating spiritual messages, beautiful liturgical robes and singing alternating from different parts of the temple.
  Along with the basic liturgical songs, the Orthodox spirituality also includes beautiful spiritual songs , such as " Kolokolčik ", "Klášterní legenda", " Večernij zvon
  ".... In these tklivých spiritual songs next to the inner Christian faith reflects the charm and poetry of vast horizons and the Russian steppes, reflected a sensitive and poetic Slavic soul.
  On the eve of major holidays (especially Easter) with evening vespers and early matutina sometimes combine to the so-called All-night vigil - Orthodox vigil ................... ......................
-fill in  

Sound library :

P.Cesnokov: Liturgy of St. Jan Chrisostom
Sings: Moscow Choir of the Nativity of the
Virgin, Directed by: Nikolaj Georgievskij, Tenor: Arkady Leontjev Voskresno jutrněje - Serbian Orthodox Easter night vigil
Sings by: choir of Mokana Mokrjanace, Directed by: Peter Vitovec,
Solo singing: D.Ž.Todorovič, M.Ilič
Ektenie - st.Petrohradské litanie Sings
: priests and choir of the Spaso-Preobrezno Cathedral in St. Petersburg
Tikhvin North Russian monastery - spiritual and liturgical songs
Sings: male ensemble Valaam, Directed by: Igor Ušakov
Old Russian all-night vigil
Sings: State Academic Russian Choir of the USSR, Director
The Great Orthodox Liturgy of Alexander Nevsky Basilica in Sofia
Sings: choir "Svetoslav Obretenov", Conducted by: Georgui Robev
Russian choral spiritual compositions
Sings by: male chamber ensemble Akafist, Conducted by: Andrei V. Malutin
God is my light - Russian spiritual songs
Sung by: ensemble Blagovest , manages Galina Kolcová
liturgical chants
sung: male choir St. Petersburg, Controls: V.Afanasjev V.Vasilenko and
Maxim Berezovsky: Eucharistic and liturgical songs
sung by: chamber choir Vidrodženija, Controls: Mstislav Jurčenko
D.S.Bortňanskij: 35 Orthodox vocal concerts
sings: Russian State Symphony Choir, Conducted by: Valery Polyansky

"And the Life of the Next Century ..." -
catholic and orthodox music
Sings: Lina Mkrtčyjan and Leningrad Chamber Choir, Directed by: N.Korněv
Orthodox Songs
Sings: choir of Don Cossacks "Bolshoi Don", Directed by: Petja Houdjakov
Liturgy of St. Jan Zlatoústý
Sings: Greek Byzantine Choir, Directed by: Likurgos Angelopulos
Liturgy of St. Jan Zlatoústý
Sings: Romanian ensemble Psalmodia, Directed by: Sebastian Barbo Bukura
Příčesne - Romanian liturgical prosodic songs of the Ison style
Sings: Kristian Pomonači and ensemble Theofilos
Morning liturgical songs from Mount Athos
Sings: ensemble Psalmodia, Directed by: Sebastian Barbo Bukura
Evening liturgical songs from
Sings: Psalmodia ensemble, Directed by: Sebastian Barbo Bukura
Byzantine chant in Arabic version
Sings: Maria Keyrouz - nun of the Order of the Basel Sisters
Melchite Marian Anthem
Sings: Maria Keyrouz - nun of the Order of the Sisters of Basel
Roman-Byzantine Easter Liturgy from the 7th-8th century
Sings: Ensemble Organum, Directed by: Marcel Peréz
.. ...........
............ - will be supplemented

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