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A marked feature of liturgical ceremony was the active part taken by the people in its performance, particularly in the recitation or chanting of hymns, responses, and psalms. The terms ''choros'', ''koinonia'', and ''ekklesia'' were used synonymously in the early Byzantine Church. In [[Psalms]] 149 and 150, the [[Septuagint]] translates the Hebrew word ''machol'' (dance) by the Greek word ''choros''. As a result, the early Church borrowed this word from classical antiquity as a designation for the congregation, at worship and in song, both in heaven and on earth. Before long, however, a clericalizing tendency soon began to manifest itself in linguistic usage, particularly after the [[Council of Laodicea]], whose fifteenth [[Canon Law|Canon]] permitted only the canonical ''psaltai'' ("[[chanter]]s") to sing at the services. The word ''choros'' came to refer to the special [[priest]]ly function in the [[Divine Liturgy|Liturgy]]—just as, architecturally speaking, the choir became a reserved area near the [[sanctuary]]—and ''choros'' eventually became the equivalent of the word ''kleros''.
The development of large-scale [[hymnography|hymnographic]] forms begins in the fifth century with the rise of the kontakion, a long and elaborate metrical [[sermon]], reputedly of Syriac origin, which finds its acme in the work of St. [[Roman the Melodist|Romanos the Melodist]] (sixth century). This dramatic [[homily]], which usually paraphrases a [[Holy Scripture|Biblical]] narrative, comprises some 20 to 30 stanzas and was sung during the Morning Office ([[Orthros]]) in a simple and direct syllabic style (one note per syllable). The earliest musical versions, however, are "melismatic" (that is, many notes per syllable of text), and belong to the time of the ninth century and later when kontakia were reduced to the ''ptooimion'' (introductory verse) and first ''oikos'' (stanza). In the second half of the seventh century, the kontakion was supplanted by a new type of hymn, the [[canon|kanon]], initiated by St. [[Andrew of Crete]] (ca. 660-ca. 740) and developed by [[Saint]]s [[John of Damascus]] and [[Kosmas of Jerusalem]] (both eighth century). Essentially, the kanon is an hymnodic complex comprised of nine odes which were originally attached to the nine [[Biblical canticles]] and to which they were related by means of corresponding poetic allusion or textual quotation.
The nine canticles are: