Sunday matins in the Byzantine cathedral rite : music and liturgy

Sunday matins in the Byzantine cathedral rite : music and liturgy

By Alexander Leonidas Lingas

PhD Dissertation, University of British Columbia, 1996

Abstract: This is an interdisciplinary examination of the office of Sunday Matins as celebrated in the Byzantine cathedral Rite of the Great Church from its origins in the popular psalmodic assemblies of the fourth century to its comprehensive reform by Archbishop Symeon of Thessalonica (f.1429), Byzantium’s last and most prolific liturgical commentator. Specifically, it studies the influence of developments in liturgical music and piety—notable among which were the advent of monastic hymnody and virtuosic styles of chanting—on the order of service at the Constantinopolitan andThessalonian cathedrals of Hagia Sophia. This is accomplished through reconstructions of the service of Sunday matins as celebrated in the two churches from musical manuscripts, books of rubrics (Typika’), and liturgical commentaries. In general, these demonstrate that the interaction of cathedral and monastic elements in Byzantium’s secular churches was far more complex than is generally acknowledged. The final two chapters of this study examine Symeon’s revised version of the Sunday morning office, which provides the context for an examination of broader questions concerning the nature of developments in the ethos of Byzantine worship. The focal point for this discussion is an evaluation of the liturgical reforms initiated by Symeon to save the cathedral rite from the indifference of his Thessalonian flock. Symeon himself describes these reforms in his liturgical commentaries as a selective “sweetening” with popular monastic hymnody. The reconstruction, however, shows that in addition to adding hymnody—itself the product of a previous revolution in Byzantine liturgical piety— he updated the archaic service of cathedral matins by incorporating many of the central works of the new repertory of florid chants. Taken together, these discoveries serve to illuminate important differences in liturgical style between a rite originally conceived for the great basilicas of Christian antiquity, and one formed by the fervent spirituality of hesychast monks during Byzantium’s twilight.

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