Syriac music is music in the
Historically it is best known from and important for its part in the development of Christian sacred music since Antiquity.
To the general considerations on
Hymnody and Hymnologymust be added some bearing particularly on the structure and liturgical use of hymns ("madrashe"), exclusive of poetical homilies or discourses ("mimre"), which belong to the narrative and epic class, while the hymns are lyrical. The chief basis of Syriac metreis fixed number of syllables of the verses, without distinction of long and short syllables, as in several modern languages. Verses of all lengths from two to twelve are known, but the metres most used in hymnody are "dodecasyllabic" verses of twelve syllables formed of three equal measures (4+4+4), "heptasyllabic" verses of seven syllables formed of two measures (4+3 or 3+4), and "pentasyllabic" verses of five syllables also formed of two measures (2+3 or 3+2). These verses may be employed a!one or grouped in strophes, the latter form being most frequent in hymns composed of verses of five and seven syllables. A strophe is generally composed of equal verses, but it sometimes happens that the first of the last verse is in a different measure from the other verses of the strophe. All the strophes of a hymn are usually of the same construction.
Besides variety of metre and division into strophes, the Syrians prior to the ninth century knew no other artifice than the arrangement of acrostic poems. The acrostic played an important part, in Syriac hymnody and its use, especially the
alphabetic acrostic, seems to have been introduced in imitation of the Psalmsand the Lamentations of Jeremias. Sometimes the acrostic is linear, simple when each verse begins successively with one of the twenty-two letters of the Syriac alphabet, multiple, when two, three, or more verses begin with the same letter without, forming strophes; sometimes it is strophic, when each strophe is marked by a letter of the alphabet. This letter may be only at the beginning of the first verse or it may be repeated at the beginning of each verse of the strophe. introduced in imitation of the Psalms and the Lamentations of Jeremias. There may be two or more successive strophes beginning with the same letter, each letter regularly marking the same number of strophes throughout the poem which thus consists of forty-four strophes, of sixty-six, or of any other multiple of twenty-two. The verbal acrosticis more rare. The name of Jesus Christ, of Mary, or the saint in whose honour the hymn is composed serves to form linear or strophic acrostics. St. Ephraem signed some of his poems with his acrostic.
From the ninth century the influence of
Arabic poetrymade itself felt in Syriac hymnody, especially by the introduction of rhyme, this manner of marking the final stroke of a verse had been hitherto unknown, the rare examples held to have been discovered among older authors being merely voluntary or fortuitous assonances. But the Syrians made varied use of rhyme. There are poems in which all the verses have the same rhyme as in the "Kasida" of the Arabs; in others, and these are the more numerous, the verses of each strophe have a single rhyme which is not the same for all the strophes. In others the verses of a strophe rhyme among themselves, with the exception of the last, which repeats the rhyme of the first strophe like a refrain. In acrostic poems the rhyme is sometimes supplied by the corresponding letter of the alphabet; thus the first strophe rhymes with a, the second with b, etc. There may also be a different rhyme for the first two measures and for the last. These are the most frequent combinations, but there are others.
Most ancient Syriac hymns, e.g. those of St. Ephraem, Narses and Balai, although composed for one or two choirs, were not originally intended for liturgical use properly so called but addressed as much to the laity as to clerics, and date from a period when the codification of
harmony, if we may so speak, was not yet regularly established. The result of adapting these hymns to liturgical offices was that they underwent various modifications:
* in the assignment of authorship -- the Syrian Jacobites and the Maronites in adopting those of Nestorian origin either suppressed the name of the author or substituted the name of one whom they considered orthodox, most frequently St. Ephraem
* in revision, those which were too long were shortened and heterodox expressions were modified -- thus the term "Mother of Christ" was replaced by "Mother of God", etc.
* in general arrangement, especially by the addition of a refrain when there was none in the original. Thus a hymn by
St. Ephraem, the acrostic of which forms the name "Jesus Christ", begins with the strophe:
"Jesus Our Lord the Christ Has appeared to us from the bosom of His Father; He has come to deliver us from darkness, And to illumine us with his resplendent light. It was preceded by the following distich which forms the refrain: Light is arisen upon the just And joy for those who are broken-hearted." Likewise a hymn of Narses on the Epiphany begins: "Error like darkness, Was stretched over creatures; The light of Christ is arisen And the world possesses knowledge. Its refrain is the following distich: The light of the appearing of Christ Has rejoiced the earth and the heavens." Syriac Hymns do not occur only in the Office which correspond to the Roman Breviary; the Syrians also made use of them in various Iiturgical functions, such as funeral and marriage celebrations. Simple hymns without refrain are called "teshbuhte" (glorifications); the name "cala" (voice) is given to the hymns in which each is preceded by a sentence (metrical or not) expressing a thought in conformity with that of the strophe. It is in a manner an invitation from the first choir to which the second replies by strophe, e.g.:
First choir: "Open to me the gates of justice." Second choir: "Open to us, Lord, the great treasure," (strophe of four verses). First choir: "And I will enter to praise the Lord." Second choir: "At the gate of thy mercies" (etc., strophe of four verses). Sometimes the strophes are interspersed with versicles from the Psalms. The hymns in the Syriac Office, which conclude the part known as sedra and replace the short prayers of the Nestorian Office, are called "ba'utha" (prayer, request). Most hymns of this class are in pentasyllabic verses and are the work of the
poet Balai(d. about 450). They show great simplicity of thought and language and consist of two strophes, generally of six verses each, sometimes of four, as for example:
"During forty days Moses fasted on the mountain: And with the splendor of its light His countenance shone. During forty days Ninive fasted: And the Lord was appeased, And annulled the sentence."
Instead of the "ba'utha" occasionally occurs a metrical composition called "seblata" (stairs), which are factitious arrangements of verses borrowed from various sources and arbitrarily arranged by those who co-ordinated or revised the Offices, and are of no assistance in the study of Syriac hymnody. The sagitha is less frequently replaced by the
augitha, a canticlein the form of a dialogue which recalls the " Victimae paschali" of the Roman Missal. All the poems of this kind known to us are of Nestorian origin, and are probably the work of Narses. They are uniformly constructed with an introduction and a dialogue; the introduction is composed of from five to ten strophes of four heptasyllabic verses; the dialogue between two persons or two groups of persons contains forty four strophes (twenty-two for each interlocutor) similar to those in the prologue and forming an alphabetic acrostic. These compositions of rather lively measure are stamped by a certain grace. The subject is adapted to the liturgical feast of the day; thus in the canticle for Christmas, the dialogue is between the Blessed Virgin and the Magi; for the Annunciation, between Gabriel and Mary; for the feast of Syrian Doctors, between Cyril and Nestorius, etc. These three kinds hymns correspond to the three subjects which form their usual theme, praise, prayer, and instruction, but as has been said the last-named was chiefly imparted by the mimre. Extensive study of Syriac hymnody would show whether there is any relationship between it and Byzantine hymnody, which hypothesis has had as many opponents as defenders; but this study is an undertaking fraught with difficulties, owing to the small number of documents published in satisfactory condition. Indeed the knowledge of hymns supplied by editions of the liturgical books of Catholic Chaldeans, Syrians, or Maronites is inadequate for the reasons indicated above. The works of St. Ephraem which contain a large number of them (authentic or apocryphal) have not been critically edited. The Nestorian Breviaries which have most faithfully preserved the ancient texts have never been printed and manuscripts are rare, while the collections of hymns apart from liturgical books are few and have not been sufficiently studied.
Known Syriac Composers
Known Syriac Song Writers
Known Syriac Singers
Melodies that originated in
Chaldeanand Antiochenerites in the Middle East have survived in Kerala. Examples of a few melodies from the Chaldean liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Churchcan be found in the work "Qambel Maran: Syriac Chants from South India" by Joseph J. Palackal.
ources and references
* [http://thecmsindia.org Home page of the Christian Musicological Society of India] (Founder-President:
Joseph J. Palackal)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Syriac Orthodox Church — Infobox Orthodox Church show name = Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East caption = Emblem of the Church founder = Peter the Apostle independence = Apostolic Era recognition = Oriental Orthodox primate=Patriarch Ignatius Zakka… … Wikipedia
Syriac language — This article is about the Classical Syriac language. For contemporary Syriac dialects, see Northeastern Neo Aramaic. For other uses, see Syriac (disambiguation). Syriac ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Leššānā Suryāyā … Wikipedia
Music of Syria — Syrian music redirects here. See Syrian hymnody for the sacral music of Syriac Christianity. The music of Syria largely emanates from the country s capital and largest city, Damascus. The city has long been one of the Arab world s centers for… … Wikipedia
Syriac Language and Literature — • Syriac is the important branch of the group of Semitic languages known as Aramaic Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Syriac Language and Literature Syriac Language and Literature … Catholic encyclopedia
Aramean-Syriac people — The Aramean Syriac people (Syriac: ar. , IPA all| Sūryōyɛ Orōmōyɛ) are an ethnic group who are widely spread into countries such as Syria, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq and speak a variant of Aramaic. In later times, many of them fled… … Wikipedia
Aramaic Music Festival — infobox music festival music festival name = Aramaic Music Festival location = Lebanon * years active= 2008 present dates = 1 4 August 2008 genre = Syriac music, Aramaic Pop, Hiphop, Rock website = http://www.aramusik.tkAramaic Music Festival is… … Wikipedia
Greek folk music — Music of Greece General topics Ancient • Byzantine • Néo kýma • Polyphonic song Genres Entehno • Dimotika • Hip hop • Laïko • … Wikipedia
Hungarian folk music — Music of Hungary: Topics verbunkos táncház csárdás nóta History: (Samples) Genres Classical Folk Hardcore … Wikipedia
Assyrian music — is divided into three main sections or periods. The Ancient Period consists of that of Ur, Babylon and Nineveh). The remaining periods are the Middle or Tribal Folkloric period and the Modern Period.History Ancient Period Mesopotamia has produced … Wikipedia
Middle Eastern music — The music of Western Asia and North Africa spans across a vast region, from Morocco to Afghanistan, and its influences can be felt even further afield. Middle Eastern music influenced (and has been influenced by) the music of India, as well as… … Wikipedia