Russian Church Singing (Vol III, Ch 12)

From Michael Ruse:

Join us this Saturday at 4:00pm to support our St. Thomas Catechetical School and fellow parishioner at St. John’s, and learn what spiritual resources Russian chants might give to us. This chapter is also worth our attention since Metropolitan Hilarion is himself an accomplished composer and fluent in musical traditions of Russia and the West. 

Znamenny chant is the most "ancient form of liturgical singing" in Russia. The word znamya means sign, which indicates that it’s written with Russian signs on a sheet of paper. Lined-strokes called hooks (kriuki) are written over these signs to indicate how long a certain sound lasts in different sorts of melodies. Znamenny chant has been partly lost. But it can be heard in modern variations in monasteries.

There was a major departure liturgically and in style with znamenny chant during the Post-Petrine period of history with a kind of singing called partesny that seems to follow the other cultural and religious revolutions of that time. Then came a slew of composers who were influenced by Italian schools, which later were criticized by a particular man named, Saint Ignatius Brianchanikov, who fought to preserve znamenny chant for Orthodox worship. Metropolitan Hilarion doesn’t forget to include the high and low points of history, and he never fails to investigate the origins of things. The final section deals with contemporary singing in Russian churches. 

Metropolitan Hilarion has also layered the topic of church singing very well. We have covered the influence of Ancient Israel’s musical traditions, especially the psalms, and Greek antiquity’s melodies, as well as Byzantium’s development of the eight-tone system. Now we arrive back into Russian land. This chapter will be compact, but it’s worth the trekking to discover how everyday words are transformed in divine services to inspire the heart to worship God. Through chanting and church singing we reach our spiritual goal of glorifying God.