Christmas Music Matters: Troparia: Christ is Born!

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Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Khristos Razhdayetsya! Slavite Yego!

O Christós genniétai! Doxásei ton

Walad Al Massihu! Al Maj dulah!

Now that Christmas is here for those of us on the New Calendar, I wanted to share the theme prayers in chant from the Byzantine and Roman Christian Traditions with you.

First, the Byzantine Tradition:

In the Byzantine Christian Tradition shared by Byzantine Greek Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, the “theme chants” of the day are the Troparion (Tropar) and the Kontakion (Kondak). These carry the essential meaning of the Feast.

I hope that readers/listeners will note that many of these choirs are ordinary local choirs in the U.S. The Byzantine Christian Tradition is flourishing among Americans!

The Pre-Christmas Troparion:

Russian tone 3 (English):

Greek tone 3 (English):

“O House of Ephrata” (Valaam Chant in English):

The Troparion of the Nativity:

In Russian tone 4 (English):

In Arabic tone 4 (Remember, Arabs were Christians 600+ years before Islam, and many still are!):

The Kontakion of the Nativity:

Greek tone 3 (English):

Russian tone 3 (English):

Tropar and Kondak of the Nativity in Russian:

Second, the Roman / Western Tradition:

The “theme prayers” in the Roman Liturgy are among these:

Antiphon for the Magnificat in the Vespers of the Nativity:

Hodie Christus natus est
hodie Salvator apparuit:
hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
laetantur Archangeli:
hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluja.

Today is Christ born;
today the Savior has appeared;
today the Angels sing,
the Archangels rejoice;
today the righteous rejoice, saying:
Glory to God in the highest.  Alleluia!

This verse is so well known that many composers have written settings for it. Just search YouTube for some. Here are a couple (we already heard Vaughan-William’s version a few days ago):





The list goes on! Enjoy!

The Introit of the Third Mass of Christmas:

Puer natus est nobis et filius datus est nobis: cuius imperium super humerium eius:
et vocabitur nomen eius magni consilii Angelus.
Cantate Domino canticum novum quia mirabilia fecit.

A child is born to us and a Son is given to us:
Whose government is upon His shoulder:
and His Name shall be called, the Angel of Great Counsel
Sing ye to the Lord a new song for he has done wonderful things.

Handel’s version in The Messiah:

I think there is plenty to meditate on in all these magnificent selections!

Merry Christmas!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant


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