Cappella Romana in archway in 2019

Greek Orthodox Vespers: Sung in Greek & English

12 Jul 23, 3:00 PM

The Grotto

8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220

An event of the 2023 American Guild of Organists West Region Convention

The Service of Vespers for July 13 (sung the evening prior)

The Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel and Our Devout Father Stephen of St. Savas Monastery

Photini Downie Robinson
Photini Downie Robinson © Rachel Hadiashar

Greek Orthodox Vespers

Welcome to this Greek Orthodox Vespers service, sung with Byzantine Chants in both Greek and English, as part of the AGO convention. The service is directed
by Photini Downie Robinson, the first cantor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Portland and a long-time singer with Cappella Romana.

Greek Orthodox Vespers traces its origins to the ancient practices of the early Christian Church. Its current form developed primarily from the traditions of cathedrals and monasteries around the Holy City (Hagiopolis) of Jerusalem. Having spread to Constantinople as early as the 7th century, “Hagiopolitan” daily prayer gradually incorporated elements of the old rite of Hagia Sophia. 

During the service, you will hear Byzantine chants in the received tradition, performed in Greek and English. The term “received tradition” refers to a collection of chants commonly used in the Greek Orthodox church today. These chants were codified in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with a reformed notation that clarified certain rhythmic and other ambiguities found in earlier notational systems. Cantors and choirs around the world, singing Byzantine chant in various languages, use this notation today. Most of the singers in Cappella Romana will be reading from this notation during the Vespers. The notation is completely diastematic; not with scale degrees indicated by the height of a note or neume on a staff, but rather by sequential neumes read left to right that prescribe what interval should be sung next from the neume before it.

The form of Orthodox Vespers is grounded in straighforward psalmody, while at the same time embellished with the beauty and solemnity of proper hymns for any given day, always keeping it fresh, alive, and new. 

We hope this experience of Greek Orthodox Vespers in Byzantine Chant may open up new horizons for you as a church musician and inspire you in your own practice.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Cappella Romana follows CDC and local health regulations. For more information, please click here.