Author Topic: Leaving out the Irmoi in the Paraklesis  (Read 1218 times)

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Offline MichaelArchangelos

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Leaving out the Irmoi in the Paraklesis
« on: August 09, 2011, 09:23:50 AM »
All the videos of the Small Paraklesis that I've listened to in Greek omit the Irmos from the beginning of the Odes. Same at the Small Paraklesis service at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral that I attend. Is there a specific reason for this?

However, the two versions of the Paraklesis in English that I've listened to both include the Irmoi. Why is it sung in English but not in Greek?

Offline bogdan

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Re: Leaving out the Irmoi in the Paraklesis
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2011, 09:53:19 AM »
It is technically an error. Over the years I have been told by various priests and choir directors that you only sing the Irmoi at Matins. When Canons are sung at other services, they are not sung.

This is because the Irmoi are really only a model melody, used to remind the chanters how to sing that ode. (Canon composers base their hymns on existing Irmoi from the Irmologion, laying down the musical pattern from existing hymns.) In Greek (and well-translated English texts) all the verses of a canon are sung exactly the same as the Irmos, with the same syllables and word emphases.

The Irmoi are sung at Matins because we no longer chant the full text of the Biblical Odes (except during the Triodion period—weekdays during Lent). The Irmoi still reference these Biblical texts, even if the rest of the troparia do not, so it's nice to keep those Biblical references. But the full Biblical Odes were never sung at the Paraklesis, which is a simplified service, and they are directed to a specific saint as a prayer of supplication, so there is no reason to sing the Irmoi.

But you're right, in actual practice the Irmoi are often sung, at least in English-speaking countries. I think this is a misunderstanding about what the Irmoi are actually for, exacerbated by English texts that do not always have the same musical patterns as the original Greek texts.

So, the Small Paraklesis canon should begin: Most Holy Theotokos, save us! By many temptations am I distressed...

But often it begins with the Irmos, Traversing the water as on dry land...

These differences could be chalked up to "local variations". It's certainly not a big deal, but I personally prefer them to be left out.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 10:02:51 AM by bogdan »

Offline DanM

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Re: Leaving out the Irmoi in the Paraklesis
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2012, 09:22:21 AM »
Is there anything about katavasias that we should know as well?

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Leaving out the Irmoi in the Paraklesis
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 10:07:12 AM »
Interesting, bogdan, thanks for sharing! My experience is mostly with the Slavic tradition and I've never heard the Irmoi left out. Though, when we do a short moleben, we often don't sing a canon at all, but only the verses. The clergy will sing the refrain, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" (or the appropriate saint, e.g., "Holy Greatmartyr and Healer Panteleimon, pray to God for us!") and the choir repeats. The clergy then sing, "Glory..." and the choir responds, "Now and ever..." Then the clergy say again, "Most Holy Theotokos..." Each cycle in this is considered an "ode" and is broken up in the appropriate places (such as for the Gospel reading).

Also, for the record, we usually don't sing the katavasia at my parish. Ever. The only time I can think that we actually do sing them is during Holy Week, particularly the Canon of Holy Saturday, for obvious reasons. I look forward to learning more about the Greek practice about this and many other things. :)
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 10:07:48 AM by Benjamin the Red »
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Offline Subdeacon Michael

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Re: Leaving out the Irmoi in the Paraklesis
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2012, 11:06:53 AM »
Interesting, bogdan, thanks for sharing! My experience is mostly with the Slavic tradition and I've never heard the Irmoi left out.

I was recently given detailed instructions in the construction of the General Moleben by one of the compilers of the Order of Divine Services, and he told me that the irmoi are never used at the Moleben, giving exactly the same reason as bogdan above.

Their presence in the text is to give the chanters an indication of the melody for the troparia. However, with the diminution of canons composed in the traditional format, (with the troparia following the same rhythm and meter as the irmos), it seems that this awareness is being lost, and the presence of the irmoi is mistakenly taken as an indication that they are to be actually sung. This is a mistake. At the start of each ode, the refrain is given and then the first troparion of the ode.

'There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy. The church, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the angels, the cherubim, seraphim and apostles.' - St John of Kronstadt