This session aims to teach campers a bit of the history, theory, and skills of Byzantine chant.
For this session you will need the following:
- Computer and LCD projector if possible for Byzantine Music Powerpoint
- Byzantine Chant PowerPoint Leader's Guide
- Audio files of the hymns to play
- Audio equipment
- Copies of the music for each camper, with permission from St. Anthony's Monastery in Florence, Arizona:
Large group: Byzantine music powerpoint (15 minutes)
Small group: Learning the hymn (20-25 minutes)
Discussion (5 minutes)
To Sum Up and Challenge (2-3 minutes)
Campers will take home from this session the hymn they are learning (Lord I Have Cried) and the written notation of the hymn.
Large Group Activity: The Look and Sound of Byzantine Music
The large group presenter should be someone familiar with Byzantine notation and chant. He or she will address some of the basics about Byzantine chant through this presentation. There is a session leader guide available to assist with this power point presentation in explaining each slide. Allow time for questions after the presentation.
Small Group Activity: Learning the Chant
Campers will focus on learning "Lord I Have Cried" in Tone 1. Make sure the small group leader is comfortable leading the music in either Byzantine or western notation. If not every leader is comfortable with this, combine small groups so that every group has a teacher who knows the music. Campers should all be given the music to look at. If they can't read music, they can simply look at the text and listen to the instructor, learning from the sound. If your group learns the hymn quickly, teach some of the advanced students how to do the ison, or drone. The notes for the ison are written out in the music.
Points to make: While practicing the chant, highlight the following points about Byzantine chant:
- A central idea of Eastern Orthodox chant is that we are singing in imitation of the angels; often, the singer will try to depict the meaning of a sacred text by the manner of singing.
- Chanting stems from music during the Byzantine Empire as well as ancient Jewish hymns.
- Byzantine chant is composed by certain holy people in the church's history as well as today.
- Byzantine chant is sung by both women and men who have studied it.
- It is a type of poetry, and therefore has certain meter to it.
- It is based on Scripture and the theology of the Church.
- Byzantine chant has no instrumental accompaniment.
Connect these activities to what was done in Session I.
- How does Byzantine chant tap into the power that music has, which we discussed in Session 1?
- What are the main goals of Byzantine music?
- Why are we musical beings, and why do we use music in our worship?
- What is this hymn saying? What's the message?
- What emotions/thoughts does this hymn evoke?
Have everyone sing together the hymn they just learned.
To Sum Up and Challenge
We have learned a lot about Byzantine chant. It's an ancient art form very precious in our church. We use it to lift our minds and hearts up to God and to learn the theology of our faith. We have only skimmed the surface of this topic; many people study chant for years and years and still don't know all there is to know.
I challenge you to make a decision as to how you hear the music in church; will you listen with the ears of your heart? Will you let the hymns teach you how to pray? Will you begin to appreciate the rich forms of prayer that our Church imparts to us?
I challenge you to learn more about Byzantine music. Some of you seemed very interested, and I encourage you to continue your studies in this rich field. But for everyone, whether or not we study this kind of chant, I hope that we all realize how it is relevant to us, how it has the power to touch our innermost spirituality, and push us toward God.
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