Sunday, October 30, 2011


The above video presents part of the Byzantine memorial service for the dead, known as the parastás in Greek and the panikhida in Church Slavonic, celebrated here in both Slavonic and French at the Paroisse catholique russe de la Très-Sainte Trinité in Paris. If you would like to read an English text of the panikhida, click here; for more background on the service itself, click here. (And if you're viewing this post using Google Reader and cannot see the video, click here.)

Even if you don't understand the languages heard in the above video, I hope that you will be able to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of the service and its music. For example, starting at the 8'15" mark in this video, you can hear the traditional Kievan melody for the Kontakion of the Departed, which, in my particular judgment, may be the single most beautiful piece of music ever composed - at the very least, it's certainly the most beautiful music that I've ever heard.

At this time of the year, many Christians pray in a special way for the faithful departed. Roman Catholic readers will likely know that the Feasts of All Saints (November 1) and All Souls (November 2) fall this week. In the Russian tradition, too, this is a time of remembrance: Demetrius Saturday, a special day of prayer for the dead, is observed annually on the Saturday preceding the Feast of Saint Demetrius; said feast falls on October 26 on the New Calendar and November 8 on the Old, making this year's dates for Demetrius Saturday October 22 (New) and November 5 (Old).

In these days when many of us take time to pray for those who have fallen asleep in Christ, we might choose to make our own the words of the Kontakion of the Departed: With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of your servants, where there is no toil, nor grief, nor sighing, but everlasting life. AMDG.


At 11/07/2011 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful,singing and ceremony


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