We are pleased to announce some major additions to the site...
- Our new offering, THE EPISTLE BOOK, is now available. This is the only KJV English Epistle Book currently in print. Visit our updated Bookstore to learn more and to order.
- In the new page, Teaching Recordings, we have added 32 sound files for the stikhera and troparia of the eight tones, and other hymns for Vespers. Brief explanatory texts are also included.
- The Church Singer's Companion, a major online book and the heart of this website, is now reorganized into a new section. This should prove much more intuitive for navigating the Companion, as well as simplifying the Main Menu.
- A number of icons of our heavenly patron, St. Romanos the Melodist, have been added, with aesthetic touches throughout.
- Other recent updates are listed and linked at the bottom of this page.
We invite you to keep checking back as we continue to improve and expand the site, and we hope you will share this resource throughout the Orthodox Church.
The Delight of Melody . . . the benefit of the words.
When, indeed, the Holy Spirit saw that the human race was guided only with difficulty toward virtue, what did He do? The delight of melody He mingled with the doctrines so that by the pleasantness and softness of the sound heard we might receive without perceiving it the benefit of the words.
~ St. Basil the Great, Exegetic Homilies, Homily 10
“I shall never forget,” recalls one observer, “how, once the hymns of praise (stikhera) were being sung. Father John had by that time almost finished vesting, so as to celebrate Divine Liturgy. Only the chasuble was not on him. Quickly, in a swift movement, more running than walking, he came out of the altar to the choir, joined the singers and began to sing together with them. He sang animatedly, with deep faith, himself acting as choirmaster, again stressing individual words and slowing the tempo where that was required by the logical meaning of what was being sung. Experienced singers instinctively guessed these words, this tempo and rhythm, and followed him with no small skill and animation. The singing, not very harmonious at first, quickly became melodious, strong, sonorous, mighty, animating, flowing over the whole church, wholly filling the hearts of those who were praying. It was touching to look at the singers at that moment. It was as if some holy early Christian family, with its father at the head, were singing, singing its victorious, holy and great hymns.”
~ from A Spiritual Portrait of St. John of Kronstadt, by Bishop Alexander Mileant
Icon depicting Romanos' vision of the Mother of God placing a scroll in his mouth, after which he composed the Nativity Kontakion: Today the Virgin gives birth to the transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the unapproachable One...
The St. Romanos the Melodist Society produces and publishes English language music of the Russian Orthodox Church.
This website is the online extension of A Church Singer's Companion, a project started in 1998 with the blessing of Metropolitan (then Archbishop) Laurus. Inspired by the Russian Sputnik Psalomshchika, the Companion is envisioned to contain the music necessary for every service a parish choir might need to sing, while staying simple enough so that any parish choir can sing it.
The St. Romanos Society produces music in both printed and recorded formats, and conducts seminars and workshops on the proper performance of that music. The Society is a sodality of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, an English mission parish currently worshipping in Beltsville, Maryland.
To get started looking at music, proceed to the Church Singer's Companion and begin familiarizing yourself with the content. You'll find there are a few more challenging settings mixed in, marked “difficult” or “very difficult”. Audio or video examples accompany some of the music. In addition, the Introduction provides valuable advice about proper church singing and related topics. And please help support us by clicking on Support Our Work or by going straight to the Donate button at left to leave a donation.
Some music on this site is written with three parts on the top staff and only the bass part on the bottom staff. These settings are designed to give more flexibility to small choirs with variable voice parts. For a full choir, tenors sing the top part, sopranos sing the middle part, and altos sing the lower part on the top staff. Basses should always sing the bass part below the other parts. The top 3 voice parts can be given to any singers in either octave to accommodate the abilities of the choir. Keep in mind that the music will sound better without large gaps between the parts (eg. lower part on the top staff sung an octave lower with everything else sung as written) and that if voice parts need to be removed, the lower part on the top staff will be missed the least, and the middle part will be missed the most.
|3/30/20||EPISTLE BOOK added to Bookstore; major site enhancements.|
|3/21/20||Teaching Recordings added; A Church Singer's Companion reorganized, navigation improved.|
|3/1/20||Paschal Cycle - Irmoi for Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday|
|2/23/20||Paschal Cycle - Magnification for Palm Sunday|
|2/12/20||Divine Liturgy - Complete Psalm 33 in the style of the partial Psalm 33 previously on the Vespers page|
|12/8/19||Fixed Cycle - Magnification for Christmas, Theophany, and the Meeting of the Lord|