Jump to: navigation, search

Canon (hymn)

346 bytes added, 18:15, August 12, 2009
:''This is a page regarding a '''Canon''' in liturgics. For other uses of the term Canon, see [[Canon (disambiguation)]].'' A '''canon''' is a structured [[hymn]] used in a number of [[Eastern Orthodoxy|Eastern Orthodox]] services. It consists of nine ''odes'', sometimes called ''canticles'' or ''songs'' depending on the translation, based on compositions (also called odes) found in the [[Bible]] and , with one exception, the [[Old Testament]].
The canon dates from the 7th century and was either devised or introduced into the Greek language by [[Andrew of Crete|St. Andrew of Crete]], whose penitential Great Canon is still used on certain occasions during [[Great Lent]]. It was further developed in the 8th century by Sts. [[John of Damascus]] and [[Cosmas the Hymnographer]], and in the 9th century by Sts. [[Joseph the Hymnographer]] and [[Theophanes the Confessor|Theophanes the Branded]].
As with all other Orthodox [[church]] music, a canon is sung by a choir or [[cantor]] in ''a cappella'' [[chant]]. An ode of the canon is begun by singing the Biblical ode from its beginning. At some point this is interrupted by an introductory stanza called an ''[[irmos]]'', "link", which poetically connects it to the subject of the canon. Following the irmos and sung alternately with the subsequent verses of the ode are a series hymns comprising a single stanza each, or ''[[troparion|troparia]]'', set in the same melody and meter as the irmos, that expand on its theme. The ode is completed with a final stanza called a ''[[katavasia]]'', which might or might not be present depending on the service and occasion, and which also varies accordingly. It might be a repetition of the irmos, the irmos of the second canon when more than one canon is being sung together, the irmos of the canon for an upcoming major feast day, or some other verse prescribed by the service books. (Katavasia means "coming down" and the verse is so called because as originally performed the two choirs would descend from their places on the left and right sides of the church to sing it together in the middle.)
When a full canon is performed, between odes three and four a ''sedalen'' or "sitting hymn" is sung. Between odes six and seven a vestigal ''[[kontakion]]'' is sung with only its ''prooimion'', or initial stanza, and the ''oikos'' or first ''strophe''. This order is rearranged somewhat if the canon is accompanied by an [[akathist]].
===Modern performance===
In some modern practice the [[Biblical odes Odes]] are not actually sung except during [[Matins]] on the weekdays of [[Great Lent]]. In modern Russian and Ukrainian practice, however, the Biblical Odes are sung at every Matins service (Saturday evenings and the eves of great feasts). Most often odes one through nine are all sung with the exception of ode two; there are therefore only eight odes sung in most canons. Ode two has an extremely penitential theme, so this too is only sung during Lenten weekday Matins. At these times the services call for the singing of three odes only. (The book containing the changeable portions of services for Lent is called the ''[[''Triodion]]'']] in consequence.) Because of this, canons that are not sung at this time often have no irmoi or troparia of ode two recorded for them. Ode two is also sung in the Great Canon of St. Andrew.
Instead, the ode normally begins with the irmos. The troparia that follow are each introduced by a brief refrain which is again determined by the subject of the canon. For example, in a Canon of the Resurrection the refrain is, "Glory, O Lord, to thy holy Resurrection"; in a Canon to the Most Holy [[Theotokos]] the refrain is, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us"; and in the most general case it is "Glory to thee our God, glory to thee." For the last one or two troparia, the refrain is replaced by the doxology "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen." However, during Sunday Matins the ''[[Magnificat]]'', which forms half of the ninth Biblical ode, is usually sung in its entirety before the irmos.
The total number of troparia is determined by local usage. Theoretically there are as many as fourteen for each ode with some troparia repeated if the service books do not prescribe enough of them and some conjoined if there are too many. This makes the canon too lengthy for typical parish use, so more often no more than three troparia are sung regardless the number of how many troparia or canons are prescribedactually read is reduced—in some practices, to as few as three per ode.
Although it is intended that the troparia be sung this is impractical in most cases, so it is usually done only during the Matins of [[Pascha|Pascha]]. They The troparia are most often read ''recto tono'' by a single [[Reader|reader]] as are the refrains that precede them—though the [[Irmos|irmoi]] and [[Katavasia|katavasiae]] are still normally sung. Often two readers will read the refrains and troparia anitphonally.
Canons are used most notably at [[Matins]], but also at the [[Canonical hours|Midnight Office]] for Sunday; at Great and Small [[Compline]]; and at special services such as the [[Paraclesis]] and those of similar structure such as the [[Panakhida]] or [[Molieben]]. In the latter cases it is often vestigal, consisting of no more than a selection of ''irmoi'' with refrains and doxology. Canons may also be used in private prayer either as a regular part of a [[Prayer_Rule|rule]] or for special needs. One traditional prayerful preparation for reception of the [[Eucharist]] is to read three canons and an [[akathist]] the evening prior. When used privately there is generally no attempt at an elaborated musical or metrical performance.
==Poetic and musical structure==
The [[Biblical Odes|nine odes ]] may be found in any complete Orthodox [[Psalter]], and they are:
# The Ode of [[Moses]] in Exodus ([[Exodus]] 15:1-19)
# The Ode of Moses in Deuteronomy ([[Deuteronomy]] 32:1-43)
# The Prayer of [[Hannah|Anna ]] the mother of [[Samuel]] the Prophet ([[1 KingsI Kingdoms]] 2:1-10)
# The Prayer of [[Habbakuk]] the Prophet ([[Book of Habbakuk|Habbakuk]] 3:2-19)
# The Prayer of [[Isaiah]] the Prophet ([[Book of Isaiah|Isaiah]] 26:9-20)
# The Prayer of [[Jonah]] the Prophet ([[Book of Jonah|Jonah]] 2:3-10)
# The [[The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children|Prayer of the Three Holy Children]] ([[Book of Daniel|Daniel]] 3:26-56)*# The Song of the Three Holy Children (The ''BenedicteBenedicite'', Daniel 3:57-88)*# The Song of the [[Theotokos]] (The ''[[Magnificat]]'', [[Gospel of Luke|Luke]] 1:46-55) and the Prayer of [[Zacharias]] the father of the [[John the BaptistForerunner|Forerunner]] (The ''[[Canticle of Zachary|Benedictus]]'', Luke 1:68-79)
Collections of irmoi for various occasions are found in the ''[[Irmologion]]'', one of the standard service books of the Orthodox Church. Irmoi and troparia for the canons are also found in the ''[[Menaion]]'' and the ''[[Octoechos]]'', and in the seasonal service books the ''[[Triodion]]'' and the ''[[Pentecostarion]]''.
*[ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete]
*[ The Iambic Canon of Pentecost] with notes, an example of a canon giving both original meter and acrostic.
*[ Akathists and Canons, online]

Navigation menu