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Lamentations of Holy and Great Saturday (CD)

This CD presents, very simply, the complete three sections or “stases” of the Lamentations (also known as “Praises” or “Encomia” in some Orthodox traditions) sung at the Matins of Great and Holy Saturday, the Funeral Service for the Lord Jesus Christ. The verses are chanted to the traditional Byzantine melodies by a single soprano voice of pure quality over an ison generated from sampled voices, in alternation with verses from the full Psalm 118, chanted by the priest. The English translation used is that of Holy Transfiguration Monastery. A beautiful, serene rhythm emerges out of this alternation between the longest Psalm (176 verses) and the New Testament poetry, attributed by some sources to St. Romanos the Melodist (6th century), but which probably predates him. It is a fact that in many Orthodox parishes today the Lamentations are severely abbreviated--either by omitting the psalm verses, or curtailing the number of Lamentations, or both. This CD allows us to experience, perhaps for the first time, the full “liturgical unit”--about 1 hour and 15 minutes altogether--this ultimate outpouring of human grief and praise to Christ’s entombment, as it was conceived and prayed for centuries by the Orthodox Church. --V.M.