Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
308 North Page Avenue, Endicott, NY 13760
Theotokion, Podoben: "Joy of Heavenly Hosts"

Theotokion Podoben: "Joy of Heavely Hosts," video

Theotokion Podoben: "Joy of Heavenly Hosts," sheet music

The wording in our sheet music doesn't quite match the words in the video.  Close enough for practice?...


The Angel Cried

This will be done as the Bishop enters the church.  We'll sing it slower than this to give him enough time to pray and venerate the icons.  

Angel Cried - sheet music

Angel Cried - soprano

Angel Cried - soprano and bass

Angel Cried - full version

Christ is Risen

American-style - sheet music

American-style - YouTube music

Greek - sheet music

Greek - YouTube music

All of Creation

All of Creation sheet music

All of Creation audio file

Creed #4 - Akathist Melody

Creed #4, sheet music

Creed #4, YouTube video

Notes on the video to be aware of:
Overall we won't do the slowdowns at the end of each section...keep rollin' along.
No slow-down in the "-ther" of "Father."
"Pontius" should be sung as two syllables (pohn-tyus) - the little curve above those letters means to combine them into one syllable.
"Catholic" should be sung as two syllables (cath-lick).
*Holy God

No audio, just sheet music.  Same version we're used to, just extended: watch for directions in the music!

Holy God sheet music

*And In Behalf of All

This would be great to do, but can be simplified if this is too much.  It's high, but we'll have to take whatever the clergy's tone is and pray for the best!  Individual parts are below, plus the full sound.

And In Behalf - soprano

And In Behalf - alto

And In Behalf - tenor

And In Behalf - bass

And In Behalf - full

*O Come Let Us Worship, Hierarchial

I could only find this in Slavonic (from our Bishop's visit in 2009).  After the Beatitudes, the clergy will begin "O Come Let Us Worship."  When they get to the beginning of the Alleluia, the choir jumps in with "O Son of God...," a half-step up from the clergy.  It's important to listen carefully to the tones given.  When the choir finishes its quick exclamation, the clergy are still singing and will finish off the rest of the hymn.  We will be singing it in English; hopefully the clergy will be too!

O Come, Hierarchial sheet music

O Come, Hierarchial audio file

*Thy Soul Shall Rejoice in the Lord

Thy Soul Shall Rejoice sheet music

Thy Soul Shall Rejoice audio file

*Eis Polla Trio
*Ton Dhespotin - Moscow

Ton Dhespotin - Moscow sheet music

Ton Dhespotin - Moscow audio link

(Keep in mind that the audio file does not hold out the note right before "ti" at the end.)

Cherubic Hymn by Lvovsky
Exapostilarion for the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos
The Reading of Texts

A good article on the reading of texts during services.  From ROCOR's Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe:

Catechumen Litany - Kedrov

Below is posted our Catechumen Litany by Kedrov, my all-time favorite setting of any Orthodox hymn by any composer!  Sublime genius! 

Kedrov Catechumen Litany - sheet music 

Kedrov Catechumen Litany - video

O Come Let Us Worship

Below is our current setting of "O Come Let Us Worship" which is sung after the Beatitudes.  The provided video follows the notes, but uses an alternate translation in the'll see.  It's also a lot slower than I'd like to sing this in church on a usual Sunday.

"O Come Let Us Worship" sheet music

"O Come Let Us Worship" video

Singing Exercise - Ison

Dear Choir,

Since we aren't meeting in person (yet), I thought I'd send along a simple singing exercise to take the place of a rehearsal.   It seems too simple, but it's harder than you might think.  I speak this from my own experience of doing the same, and still learning from it.
Here's a link to a musical selection: a hymn with an ison (that unwavering, single-note drone in the background).  Listen to it, and just sing the ison.  Seems counter-intuitive to sing just one note the whole time, but the benefits are huge:
1. You learn to listen and match a pitch for a long period of time.  Good training for both ear and throat.  If you can match and hold a pitch for this long, shorter notes should be that much easier!
2. You have to listen to yourself AND the pitch being sung.  Good practice in hearing your own voice in relation to others.
3. You get to hear chords being rolled through, and what your note sounds like in the context of other pitches.  And you'll hear when you're in tune and not in tune.
If you do any sort of choir work at home, I would recommend making this a regular part of your practice.  Car rides can also be a good time to sing...not ideal with potholes and such, but better than nothing!
Wax on, wax off Daniel-san.
If there's anything I can do to uplift your musical experience, please let me know!
Enjoy!  And happy singing!
Prayerful Unity

The goal of church singing is prayerful unity: unity of intention as we offer our hearts to God through song; unity of voices in rhythm and word and tone; unity of minds immersed in the meaning of what we’re singing; unity of hearts with prayerful feelings stirred on by the significance of these holy prayers.  Although we are all imperfect, we should always sing to the best of our abilities with the desire to improve within the limitations of our talents and our experience.  And just as with the monastic ideal of obedience, we should also work with devoted obedience towards our purpose of prayerful unity, using the resources that we have at our disposal:

  1. The text. While every part of our singing is important, the text itself—the prayers we’re singing—are of primary importance.  If the words are garbled, or sung too fast for recognition, or dragged out to incomprehensibility, then we’ve missed the mark of lifting our voices of prayer in service to God.  Individually, members of the choir must pronounce each word with clarity; as a whole, our voices should combine as one voice speaking the same words at the same time with the same precision.  We’re not a collection of individual singers, but one choir singing these prayers as the voice of our parish.  Even the Divine Liturgy can proceed with a mere monotone chanting of the text alone; the pitches and rhythms are not the essential parts.  But remove the words from even the most beautiful of musical settings, and that collection of wordless sounds no longer has a place within the Divine services.
  2. The sheet music. The pages of music that we follow provide a uniform structure for each hymn.  Sheet music provides a common set of standard rules that allow multiple voices to sing together as one.  Note values communicate the lengths of particular sections; the written pitches create pleasing harmonies and enhance the text when sung in tune; bars and measures separate lengthy passages into distinct musical expressions; the words are attached to specific rhythms which highlight the meaning of the prayers that they embody.  All these features allow a choir of individuals to sing the same thing at the same time in the same way.  Therefore we must pledge obedience to the musical notations in front of us, singing what’s written, as it’s written.  Not saying the words we think we remember from previous experiences, but singing the exact words that are printed on the page.  Not following the rhythms as we’ve “always done,” but instead producing those rhythms as they appear in the note values in front of us, as they’re conducted at that time for that service.  We have to let go of previous experience and expectations and invest ourselves completely into what’s in front of us, obedient to the markings on the page.  An entire group of singers following those same markings in the same way are well on their way towards prayerful unity.
  3. The conductor. The role of the choir director is mostly threefold.  First, he or she provides a tempo (speed) for a particular piece of music, holding that tempo for the entirety of the hymn, adjusting it as needed, and communicating that tempo in such a way that the singers can express the music at that same tempo throughout.  Secondly, the conductor indicates changes within the music, giving singers a heads-up that a pitch or a rhythm is about to modulate.  This becomes especially important when singing text within the standard eight tones: the musical setting may be familiar, but the placement of words within that setting can be anticipated through the conductor’s gestures.  Thirdly, the conductor communicates the overall character of a hymn.  Depending on the conducting style, a piece can be sung with joyful exuberance or with slow pensiveness.  One hymn may call for a gentle, lyrical feel; another may necessitate a precise and upbeat seriousness.  It’s the conductor’s job, through gesture and expression, to evoke these various moods within the music.  And it’s the choir’s job to pledge “obedience to the hand” as the conductor plays the group of voices as one instrument through his or her direction.  It’s important to “keep one eye” on the conductor at all times, either by frequently looking up from the binder, or through peripheral vision while following the music on the page.
  4. Our ears. In a choir, we’re each one voice singing within a collection of sounds. It’s essential, then, to listen to that collection of sounds to see how your singing fits with the choir as a whole.  Is your pitch in harmony with the rest, or does it sound “off?”  Are you following the tempo and hitting each word at the same time as everyone else, or are you slightly ahead or behind the others?  Are you starting at the same time with the choir director’s downbeat, and are you ending at the cutoff signal?  If you notice that your sound or rhythm is off, it’s important to adjust your speed or pitch to the rest of the singers around you.  It’s also ok, if necessary, to drop out for a moment to listen, re-orient, and then start singing again once you’ve found your place within the music.  We work within a greater context, and it’s important to keep both ears on that context so that we each fit our voice into the greater unity being created.

Musical perfection is not our goal; even the most professional of choirs will always fall short of the angels’ doxologies that we imitate through our crude and clunky efforts.  Our goal instead should be perfect intentions for prayerful unity.  When we fall short in our singing efforts—as we always will—at least our hearts will be aligned towards that most important of purposes: leading ourselves and our congregation in the holy prayers that we’ve been called to offer.  If we sing to the utmost of our ability, with obedience to our task, mindful of the meaning of what we’re singing, adhering to the sheet music, following the choir director’s cues, listening to the sound of our own voice, and with a spirit of prayer in our hearts, then we’ll bring glory to God through our efforts.  We sing together with the angels whose invisible presence is with us during the Liturgy.  And by God’s grace we can lift the entire congregation in spiritual offering through the prayerful unity of our collective voices.