Music of the Monastery
At the Monastery of Saint John of San Francisco, our activity revolves around the services. In the early days of our brotherhood, we only had enough voices in our choir to keep a simple melody going. Gradually, as more members joined the choir, we were able to add other parts. Still, in the spirit of monastic simplicity, we often keep it to two- or three-part harmony.
Many Orthodox parishes and missions have the issue of not having enough voices to sing all the parts presented in much of the music available. Although our inherited tradition at the monastery is Russian, we have tried to get away from the chord-progression driven Church music of the 19th Century Imperial Court and into a more melodic chant-like repertoire, based on the ancient Traditions of the Church. The links below will lead you to English settings we use, derived from Znammeny, Valaam, Kievan, Byzantine, and Carpatho-Russian chant.
In addition, we've posted some original pieces, composed for English. Orthodox music has always taken a supporting role in relation to the liturgical text. When working with borrowed melodies of foreign traditions (e.g. Greek or Slavonic) and translated texts, one can run into many difficulties and usually the text suffers unnatural delivery. Our hope is that with time, an organic American Orthodox musical tradition will emerge that is rooted in the richness and variety that has been passed on to us.
NOTE: Most of the arrangements here were done for our small choir, and therefore reflect this in the voicing and staff arrangment. Some have been modified for SATB and other mixed voices.
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- Great Litany
Arrangement based on Archimandrite Matthew's 4-part Litany translated from the Slavonic
- Typical Antiphons
- Only-Begotten Son
- O Come Let us Worship Hymn during Little Entrance
- Common Troparia & Kontakia used at our monastery
- As Many as have been baptized
For use in Hierarchical Liturgy
A combination of the traditional 4-part Russian version with Byzantine sung by small group or trio done with the repetitions required for serving with a bishop.
- For use in Hierarchical Liturgy
It is Truly Meet, All of Creation Rejoices and others
What the Greeks call Anti-Axion (estin) and the Slavs Zadostojnik: done in place of It is Truly Meet on feasts.
- Koinonika (Communion Hymns)
- Collection of the daily Koinonika (2 & 3-part, mixed sources)
The eyes of all look to Thee
(An ancient communion hymn for any occasion; set to music by Monk Martin)
- Receive Me Today (Byzantine melody +ison)
- Various Litanies
Litany for Catechumens & Faithful (3-part)
Based on Kievan Chant, the litany for the faithful is elongated to be sung when a priest is serving alone w/o a deacon.
- Litany for Catechumens & Faithful (3-part)
- Great Litany
- From My Youth (Antiphon in Tone 4 for Great Feasts)
- Let Every Breath Praise the Lord
- Psalm 50
- Irmoi from the Supplicatory Canon to the Theotokos
- Daily Exapostilaria
- Holy is the Lord
- Most Blessed art Thou, Tone 2
- Great Doxology
- Resurrectional Troparia done at end of Sunday Matins
- Psalm 103 (Proemial Psalm)
- Blessed is the Man
- Lord I Call
Using the OCA translation, with two-part harmony as we sing them at the monastery
- Final 10 verses on Lord I Call set to Kievan Chant
The canonarch introduces the pitch and choir sings the last half of verse to segue into the melody of the stichera to follow. (All are two-part)
- Resurrectional Dogmatika in the 8 Tones
- O Gladsome Light
- Rejoice O Virgin
- Canon Refrains Used in Pannikhidas and funerals
- Funereal Evlogitaria
- Funereal Trisagion (Holy God)
- Give Rest with the Just
- I Called to Mind the Prophet: The Hymn of St. John of Damascus in Tone 5
(Also sung at the aposticha for daily vespers on Friday of Tone 5 week)
- Memory Eternal
- Open to me the Doors of Repentence
- Lenten Lord's Prayer for Weekdays
- The Father's Embrace
(Sessional Hymn for the Prodigal Son and also used at the tonsure of a monk or nun)
- O Lord of Hosts (Great Compline)
- Lenten Litanies (All Znamenny)
- Alleluias with Triadica in 8 tones (Daily Matins)
- Photagogica in the 8 tones (Daily Matins)
- Daily Vespers: Rejoice O Virgin
- Kontakion Settings for Holy Week (simple two-part)
- Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
This hymn replaces the Cherubikon during the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Saturday.
- Behold the Bridegroom
The Apolytikion for Holy Great Monday
- O My Most Blessed Queen (prayer from the Supplicatory Canon, which we sing at Compline)