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Re: [orthodox-readers] Sticheria and Polyleos

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  • Alex Vallens
    ... Technically, on Sunday the Polyeleos is sung only from the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross until the time of the Lenten Triodion, when it will be
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 17, 2004
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      On Dec 17, 2004, at 2:40 PM, stephanlh wrote:

      > When is the Polyleos used? I can not find any clear guidelines. Some
      > books say to use it every Sunday. In the past we have done this, but
      > usually we have chanted only 4 verses from the two psalms.

      Technically, on Sunday the Polyeleos is sung only from the Feast of the
      Elevation of the Cross until the time of the Lenten Triodion, when it
      will be replaced by "By the Waters." However, in modern practice the
      Polyeleos is commonly sung every Saturday night, especially if a
      Hierarch is serving.

      > Also I was wondering which sticheria should be read and which should
      > be sung in the perspective canons? In the past we have sung the
      > first one and sometimes also the last, particularly if it was
      > different from the first. That reminds me of another question. We
      > have got into a rutt which I think is a protestant rutt, namely
      > never to repeat anything. So if we have already chanted the first
      > verse, we hardly ever chant it again, even when this seems to be
      > called for as in the case of a major feast as Pascha. I wish we were
      > not so lazy, but I have little musical background and seem not to be
      > able to argue with people that have extensive musically knowledge.

      You bring up a very complicated issue: structure of the canon. Without
      going into too great detail (this topic could easily span multiple
      semesters in seminary), let me answer your questions directly.

      First of all, terminology: the term canon actually means multiple
      things in this context. First, the part of Matins that you refer to is
      called the Canon of Matins, which is made up of 9 odes (8 actually,
      since ode 2 is never used outside of Great Lent). Each ode, in turn,
      actually consists of multiple canons, depending on what is being
      commemorated each day. On a Sunday you will have no less than 4 canons
      prescribed, 3 of which (Resurrection, Cross-Resurrection, Theotokos)
      are taken directly from the Octoechos for the tone of the week. The
      fourth, and perhaps others, are taken from the Menaion for the
      saint(s)/feast(s) to be commemorated.

      At each ode we begin with the Irmos of the first canon. This is usually
      sung by the choir. Each canon should have its Irmos marked separately
      from the Troparia. We then proceed to read the Troparia for the ode of
      each canon prescribed, in order of rank. Prior to each Troparion the
      reader will read a refrain that is prescribed for that canon. As he
      completes the ode for each canon, he picks up on the same ode of the
      next canon, having skipped the Irmos, but inserting the appropriate
      refrain. This pattern continues until the second to last Troparion of
      the last canon, before which "Glory..." is inserted, and the last
      Troparion, before which "Now & Ever..." is inserted. Upon the
      completion of each ode by the reader, the choir will sing the
      Katavasia, which differs according to the time of the year (this often
      is the Irmos form the canon for the next great feast). Let us look at
      an example, and hopefully clarify this confusion. On most Sundays, the
      following formula would be used:
      Ode 1
      Irmos for ode 1, canon of the Resurrection for the tone of the week
      (from the Octoechos), is sung by choir.
      Troparia for ode 1, same canon (preceded by "Glory to Thy Holy
      Resurrection, O Lord!")
      Troparia for ode 1, canon of the Cross & Resurrection from the
      Octoechos (preceded by "Glory to Thy Holy Cross and Resurrection, O
      Lord!") NOTE: Irmos is skipped.
      Troparia for ode 1, canon of the Theotokos from the Octoechos (preceded
      by "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!") NOTE: Irmos is skipped.
      Troparia for ode 1, appointed canon(s) from the Menaion (preceded by
      appropriate refrain, such as "Holy Hierarch, Father Tikhon, pray unto
      God for us!") NOTE: Irmos is skipped.
      At the second to last Troparion of the last canon, "Glory..." replaces
      the refrain.
      At the last Troparion of the last canon, "Now & Ever..." replaces the
      refrain.
      Appointed Katavasia is sung by choir.

      This formula is repeated for each ode, except at the 8th ode, were
      "Glory..." is replaced with "Let us bless the Father, and the Son, and
      the Holy Spirit, the Lord!"

      Note, this is the prescribed routine for a Sunday. This changes on
      weekdays and for great feasts,
      Also note, often these rules are reduced for economia. Often only the
      3rd, 6th, 8th, 9th Katavasias will be sung, troparia may be skipped or
      not repeated, or whole canons may be omitted.

      I hope this helps. I've only scratched the surface...

      With love in Christ,
      Reader Alexander
    • Theophan
      Gosh, this list has been silent most of the time since it began, and it s GREAT to have these discussions! Thanks to everyone! And it s really interesting to
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 17, 2004
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        Gosh, this list has been silent most of the time since it began, and it's
        GREAT to have these discussions! Thanks to everyone!

        And it's really interesting to hear how differently different practices in
        different jurisdictions and areas are! I'm sure we all get used to the idea
        that what "we" do is what "everyone" does, and of course the one and only
        "right" way... and then we learn that there are LOTS of "right" ways! :)
        I've read more than once on Orthodox lists that there are 17 ways to do
        everything in Orthodoxy, and each of those has 17 variations...

        Reader Alexander said, for example,

        ... in modern practice the Polyeleos is commonly
        sung every Saturday night, especially if a
        Hierarch is serving.

        Fascinating! We are a small parish in a rural area, and I think a Bishop
        has been to our parish only 2 or 3 times ever, so we don't often have a
        "Hierarch" serving. We sing a Polyeleos only when the rubrics call for it,
        which isn't anywhere near every Saturday night. And the rubrics we follow
        are either those compiled by Father John Whiteford, which I understand come
        from Jordanville, and/or the St. John of Kronstadt Liturgical Calendar in
        conjunction with their Order of Divine Services.

        On a Sunday you will have no less than 4 canons
        prescribed, 3 of which ... are taken directly
        from the Octoechos for the tone of the week. The
        fourth, and perhaps others, are taken from the
        Menaion for the saint(s)/feast(s) to be commemorated.

        Again, fascinating! From the rubrics I mentioned above, which I believe
        quite stringently follow the Typicon, 4 tends to be a maximum, not a
        minimum, and fairly often there are fewer than 4. For example, the Order of
        Divine Services says for Sunday Services that there are only 3 canons for
        Sunday services of these ranks:

        Vigil Rank Service: Resurrection, Theotokos, Menaion.
        Doxology, Polyeleos, or Vigil Rank Service during Forefeasts and
        Afterfeasts: Resurrection, Feast, Saint.
        Apodosis of Great Feasts: Resurrection, Theotokos, Feast.

        So the answer to your question requires knowing the rank of the service,
        which is potentially different every Sunday.

        To me, the main answer I would suggest to Mr. Hobbs is that the Orthodox
        Church specifies different answers to some of your questions for every
        service, so you can only know what to do by finding a source for the
        Church's rubrics. Father John Whiteford generously posts rubrics on his web
        site for every Sunday, on the Old Calendar. The St. John of Kronstadt Press
        publishes the Liturgical Calendar and Order of Divine Services, and also are
        on the Old Calendar. If you are in a New Calendar jurisdiction, surely your
        own jurisdiction must have some "standard" way of letting priests know what
        the Church specifies for each day of the year.

        And the question about singing the stichera is an interesting one. I don't
        even know what melodies one would use. I believe in the Byzantine practice
        there are such melodies, but I'm quite sure that in the Slavic Churches all
        stichera in the canons are read (not in a speaking voice, but sung on a
        monotone), and it's only the Irmoi and Katavasiae that are sung. (And
        kontakia, etc., of course.)

        Theophan Dort
      • James Morgan
        The way we do it, the choir sings the troparia of the matins canon in the same tone as the irmos. But we usually only sing the resurrectional canon at Sunday
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 18, 2004
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          The way we do it, the choir sings the troparia of the matins canon in the
          same tone as the irmos. But we usually only sing the resurrectional canon
          at Sunday matins, or the canon of the feast. Singing or chanting is
          determined by the priest depending on how fast or slow things are going. The
          choir also sings all the stichera for Lord I have cried at vespers. I was
          at one church where only the opening psalm verse and the Dogmaticon were
          sung, the rest being chanted rapidly by a reader! It did not feel like I
          had been at Vespers at all.

          Just my opinion

          Rdr. James Morgan
          Olympia, WA
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          Theophan Dort said, in part:
          And the question about singing the stichera is an interesting one. I don't
          even know what melodies one would use. I believe in the Byzantine practice
          there are such melodies, but I'm quite sure that in the Slavic Churches all
          stichera in the canons are read (not in a speaking voice, but sung on a
          monotone), and it's only the Irmoi and Katavasiae that are sung. (And
          kontakia, etc., of course.)
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