Early Christian and Byzantine Church Singing (Vol III, Ch 11)

From Michael Ruse:

There is a wealth of material in this chapter that covers two major sections: Early Christian Music and Byzantine Church Music. We learn that early Christian musical composition wasn’t fixed from the beginning although there were expectations about what to be used for singing. It developed from the Old Testament hymns, the psalms and also ancient Greek melodies. The eight tones or Octoechos helped form and fix later church singing in the Byzantine period. 

After reading this chapter, we will become easily familiar with the most salient and essential terms and ideas of church music like cantillation, the Octoechos, plagal, cento, neume notation, phonai, domestik, and ecphonetic notation. 

Metropolitan Hilarion also touches on some of the writings of the Church Fathers and what they said about the importance of one’s inward disposition, content and rules for church singing. They viewed the human voice as the primary instrument of praise to God rather than instruments. Because of the association of certain sounds and instruments with pagan culture at that time, they tended to speak against musical instruments for accompanying church singing. 

Join us this Saturday at 4:00pm to learn how church singing unifies our voices toward God in the divine services.