« Prev Books containing Greek Hymns Next »

I next have to speak of the books in which Greek Hymnology is to be found. They consist principally of sixteen volumes.

α. Twelve of the Menaea:—which would answer, in Western Ritual, to the Breviary, minus the ferial offices. But, whereas in the 49 West the only human compositions of the Breviary are the lections from the sermons of the Fathers, the hymns, and a few responses—the body of the Eastern Breviary is ecclesiastical poetry: poetry not, strictly speaking, written in verse, but in measured prose. This is the staple of those three thousand pages—under whatever name the stanzas may be presented—forming Canons and Odes; as, Troparia, Idiomela, Stichera, Stichoi, Contakia, Cathismata, Theotokia, Triodia, Staurotheotokia, Catavasiae,—or whatever else. Nine-tenths of the Eastern Service-book is poetry.

50

β. The Paracletice, or Great Octoechus: in eight parts.

This contains the Ferial Office for eight weeks. Each week has on Sunday—
A Canon of the Trinity.
A Canon of the Resurrection.
A Canon of the Cross and Resurrection.
A Canon of the Mother of GOD (one or more).
On Monday:
A Canon of Penitence.
A Canon of the Angels.
On Tuesday:
A Canon of Penitence.
A Canon of the Forerunner.
On Wednesday:
A Canon of the Cross.
A Canon of the Mother of GOD.
On Thursday:
A Canon of the Apostles.
A Canon of S. Nicolas.
On Friday:
A Canon of the Passion.
A Canon of the Mother of GOD (two).
On Saturday:
A Canon of Prophets and Martyrs.
A Canon of the Dead.
51

In the first week, the whole of the Canons are sung to the first Tone: in the second, to the second, and so on. The Greek Tones answer to our Gregorian, thus:—

Latin. Greek.
Tone I. I.
II. I. Plagal.
III. II.
IV. II. Plagal.
V. III.
VI. Varys (heavy.)
VII. IV.
VIII. IX. Plagal.

The Paracletice forms a quarto volume (double columns) of 350 pages: at least half is the work of Joseph of the Studium. The 52 Octoechus, sometimes called the Little Octoechus, contains the Sunday services from the Paracletice: they are often printed separately.

γ. The Triodion: the Lent volume, which commences on the Sunday of the Pharisee and Publican (that before Septuagesima) and goes down to Easter. It is so called, because the leading Canons have, during that period, only three Odes.

δ. The Pentecostarion,—more properly the Pentecostarion Charmosynon,—the Office for Easter-tide. On a moderate computation, these volumes together comprise 5000 closely printed quarto pages, in double columns, of which at least 4000 are poetry.

The thought that, in conclusion, strikes one is this: the marvellous ignorance in which English ecclesiastical scholars are content to remain of this huge treasure of divinity—the gradual completion 53 of nine centuries at least. I may safely calculate that not one out of twenty who peruse these pages will ever have read a Greek “Canon” through; yet what a glorious mass of theology do these offices present! If the following pages tend in any degree to induce the reader to study these books for himself, my labour could hardly have been spent to a better result.

« Prev Books containing Greek Hymns Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |