Byzantine Chant

Composer Alpha
Byzantine Chant

According to some Byzantine local traditions, “Let my prayer arise” is to be sung in the fifth tone at all Wednesday and Friday Presanctified liturgies, but in the sixth tone in the first week, during Great Week, and anytime the Presanctified is served for a ranking commemoration. This harmonization is loosely based on the tone 6 version in the Greek chantbooks. The verses would be intoned either by the priest or by a chanter, with the full choir responding with the refrain.

Nicolae Lungu was a 20th-century Romanian professor, choral director, composer and arranger. He was co-author of what is quite possibly the most accessible book on learning to read Byzantine psaltic neumes, and for this I am eternally in his debt.

This setting of the Beatitudes has existed in monophonic form in the Romanian repertoire for a long time; Professor Lungu harmonized it for posterity. The melody is traded between men’s and women’s voices, sometimes coming together for a unison phrase.

Ghelasie Basarabeanul was a Romanian archimandrite, protopsalt and liturgical composer in the first half of the nineteenth century. His compositions were always within the framework of monophonic Byzantine chant. In the 20th century, some of his compositions were anonymously harmonized. I recently ran across this one and decided to set it in English.