Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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Orthochronic notation.

A form of notation in which the shapes of the notes indicate the durational relationships between notes. See Notation, §III, 4(i).


(Gk.: ‘daybreak’).

A morning Office in the Greek Orthodox Church, equivalent to Matins and Lauds of the Roman rite. Together with Hesperinos, the evening Office, it is one of the principal hours in both the urban and monastic rites.

The origins of the morning Office lie in the all-night vigils of the early Christians, particularly in respect of the recitation of canticles and psalms. The singing of some of the fixed psalms, for example, Psalms l and cxlviii–cl and the ‘hexapsalmos’ (see below), is attested as early as the 5th century. In the 6th century differences began to emerge in the chanting of the Byzantine Offices in monasteries and urban churches: Orthros as celebrated in the urban rite of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople was restricted to prayers, canticles and psalms with a variety of refrains; the monastic rite, influenced by the Palestine tradition, came to be characterized by the addition of stichēra and the singing of the Kanōn. By the beginning of the 13th century, however, these different ways of celebrating Orthros and the other Offices had gradually merged into a single ‘mixed’ rite.

The melodies for the Ordinary chants of Orthos are generally contained in the Akolouthiai manuscripts, which date from the beginning of the 14th century; the music for the Proper chants is supplied from older liturgical books, such as the Stichērarion, the Heirmologion and the psaltikon (Kontakarion). Recitation of the full set of chants at Orthros in its most developed form was restricted to Sundays and important feasts. The order is as follows:

(i) Troparia (see Troparion): psalm refrains sung at the beginning and end of the Office, after the ‘Morning Gospel’ and the third canticle of the kanōn. The rarity of troparia (or kathismata) melodies in notated manuscripts suggests that they were usually transmitted orally.

(ii) The ‘hexapsalmos’: a group of six psalms, beginning with Psalm iii and ending with Psalm cxlii.10b.

(iii) The Theos kyrios: a verse of Psalm cxvii (27a) sung as a refrain to other selected verses of that psalm. Its musical style is that of moderately embellished psalmody and it concludes with the troparion of the day. On weekdays and during Lent the Theos kyrios is replaced by a triple allēlouia sung to simple melodies that are distinct from those chanted in the Divine Liturgy. A series of short troparia honouring the Trinity is regularly sung with this triple allēlouia.

(iv) The polyeleos (Gk.: ‘many times mercy’): a series of verses from Psalms cxxxiv–cxxxv ending with an allēlouïa refrain. The chant is found in a number of different versions in the manuscripts. Some of its melodies are followed by designations such as ‘as sung in Constantinople and all over the world’, ‘as sung in Thessaloniki’, ‘monastic’ or ‘Latrinos’; others have single verses ascribed to composers of the 14th and 15th centuries, for example, Joannes Koukouzeles, Xenos korones and Demetrios Dokeianos. Although most verses belong to the kalophonic style (see Kalophonic chant and Byzantine chant §12), a few carry the designation palaion (‘old’ or ‘traditional’).

(v) The amōmos: Psalm cxviii, sung on Saturdays and replacing the polyeleos on Sundays in Lent. Like the polyeleos, it is found in several versions, each consisting of a series of selected psalm verses, and its melodies are generally in the kalophonic style, with each verse ascribed to a different composer or locality.

(vi) The anabathmoi: a set of three or four troparia in each mode. They were originally designed to be sung with the gradual psalms (cxix–cxxx and cxxxii), from which they incorporate textual and melodic quotations. Because the anabathmoi were transmitted from the 11th century as ‘antiphons’ in the oktōēchos section of the stichēraria, they provide valuable evidence about the Byzantine psalm tones before the appearance of the akolouthiai manuscripts in the early 14th century. Such evidence possibly dates back to the late 8th century (see Strunk, 1960).

(vii) A Prokeimenon: a responsorial chant based on selected psalm verses and sung before the reading of the ‘Morning Gospel’. The akolouthiai manuscripts contain a set of prokeimena (concluding with Psalm cl.6) in each of the eight modes. All the prokeimena are set in simple psalmodic style, except for one (for Orthros on Sundays), which is in a florid style and is transmitted in the psaltikon manuscripts with the prokeimena for Hesperinos.

(viii) The pentēkostos: Psalm l, sung after the reading of the ‘Morning Gospel’. On important feasts it is performed antiphonally and with a concluding troparion or stichēron.

(ix) The Kanōn: a series of poetic strophes combined with the recitation of the nine biblical canticles. Melodies for the kanōnes are transmitted in the heirmologion. Inserted into the kanōn after the sixth canticle is the kontakion.

(x) A Kontakion. Originally polystrophic in form, it was eventually reduced to the proem and first stanza alone. The earliest extant melismatic melodies for the kontakia are contained in psaltikon manuscripts dating from the end of the 12th century; syllabic melodies for the proems, however, appear only sporadically in sources from the 13th century onwards and are usually found with a collection of model stanzas for troparia.

(xi) An exaposteilarion: a short chant following the kanōn. Melodies for the exaposteilaria are similar in style to those of the troparia and are transmitted only in a small number of stichēraria dating from the 11th century onwards. The 11 exaposteilaria for Sundays, which are written in a metre of 15 syllables per line, are traditionally ascribed to Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetus (reigned 908–59).

(xii) Hoi ainoi: ‘Lauds’ psalms (cxlviii–cl), performed on Sundays and feasts with stichēra interpolated between the final verses. According to the akolouthiai manuscripts their melodies are in simple psalmodic style, similar to that of the Kyrie ekekraxa chanted at Hesperinos.

(xiii) The heōthinon (Gk:. ‘morning stichēron’): a set of 11 chants, each written over one of the 11 ‘Morning Gospels’ on the Resurrection, sung with the final doxology of hoi ainoi on Sundays. The heōthina, which are traditionally ascribed to Emperor Leo VI (reigned 886–912), are considerably more elaborate in their musical style than most other stichēra.

(xiv) The Doxa en hypsistois Theō (Gloria in excelsis Deo): the chant following hoi ainoi. Although no completely notated melody for the Byzantine Doxa survives, the manuscripts sometimes contain neumations for the incipit, and occasionally longer portions of the text or quotations within other chants, thus providing some idea of the variety of ways in which the Doxa was sung.

(xv) The Trisagion: sung before the final troparion (apolytikion). The earliest notated melodies appear in the 13th-century asmatikon manuscripts. However, a number of different Trisagion melodies, most of them set in the Byzantine modes on G (2nd authentic, 2nd and 4th plagal), are notated in the 14th-century akolouthiai manuscripts.


F. Mercenier and F. Paris: La prière des églises de rite byzantin, i (Chevetogne, 1937)

O. Strunk: ‘The Byzantine Office at Hagia Sophia’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, ix–x (1956), 175–202

O. Strunk: ‘The Antiphons of the Oktoechos’, JAMS, xiii (1960), 50–67

M.M. Morgan: ‘The Musical Settings of Psalm 134: the Polyeleos’, Studies in Eastern Chant, iii, ed. M. Velimirović (Oxford, 1973), 112–23

D. Conomos: Byzantine Trisagia and Cheroubika of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (Thessaloniki, 1974)

D. Touliatos-Banker: ‘The Byzantine Orthros’, Byzantina, ix (1977), 324–83

D. Touliatos-Banker: The Byzantine Amomos Chant of the 14th and 15th Centuries (Thessaloniki, 1984)

R. Taft: The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West (Collegeville, MN, 1986)

E. Toncheva: ‘The “Latrinos” Settings of the Polyeleos (Psalm 135): the Typological Problems of the Late Byzantine Psalmody’, Cantus Planus VI: Éger 1993, 473–92

C. Troelsgård: ‘The Exaposteilaria Anastasima with Round Notation in MS Athos, Ibērōn 953’, Studi di musica bizantina in onore di Giovanni Marzi, ed. A. Doda (Lucca, 1995), 15–28

For further bibliography see Byzantine chant


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