Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lenten Listening

A few days ago, I posted a list of books that I am reading (or at least PLANNING to read!) during Lent Today I thought I would follow that up with a list of recommended CD's to listen to during this penitential season. There are many CD's out there that feature Orthodox Lenten and Paschal music (many in English) and more are released each year. Here are my four favorites (all in English):

1. The Gates of Repentance: Byzantine Hymns of Great Lent by Fr. Apostolos Hill

This is a classic CD, owned and loved by thousands of Orthodox Christians, and chanted by my favorite chanter. It includes hymns from the pre-lenten period all the way up through Lazarus Saturday. I learned much of what I know about how to chant just from listening to Fr. Apostolos' CD's (of which there are three -- see Liturgica Music for more information).

2. Now the Powers of Heaven: The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts by the Fellowship of St. John the Divine Choir

The Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, celebrated only during Great Lent, is many Orthodox Christians' favorite service. This CD contains a double blessing: a setting of the Liturgy in the Byzantine style, and another in the Slavic style.

3. Thy Passion by the Boston Byzantine Choir

Byzantine Chant with a large number of voices usually doesn't work, but it sure does with this outstanding choir. This is their third and latest CD, and it contains hymns for Holy Week, picking up where The Gates of Repentance leaves off. It contains all three Lamentation hymns in their entirety, along with some rare hymns and rare settings of familiar hymns.

4. Pascha: Come Receive the Light by Eikona

A stunningly beautiful setting of the Paschal Matins service. Other than the sheer beauty of the chanting (done by three sisters whose voices blend perfectly), the greatest thing about this CD is the renditions of the hymn "Christ is Risen" in multiple languages, including Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, Spanish, Amharic, and of course, English.

(There are also a handful of Paschal hymns on the CD's First Fruits by the Boston Byzantine Choir and Cycles of Grace by Fr. Apostolos, but since these discs are not devoted entirely to Lent or Pascha, I did not include them on the list.)

I strongly recommend that you purchase one or more of these CD's before Lent is over and listen to it/them multiple times. I guarantee that you will not regret it. Your appreciation of the Lenten and Paschal services, and your spiritual life in general, will be greatly enriched. Try your parish bookstore, and if they don't have any of them, try Light and Life Publishing, which is the source of the images in this post.

If you think anything should be added to the list, be sure and let me know


Clint said...

Thank you for the list. Good recommendations are always wanted, especially when dealing with things I know little about.

Did you ever think, 10 years ago, that you would ever pen the phrase "my favorite chanter..."???

Fr. James Early said...

You're welcome, Clint. In answer to your question, certainly not! I'm not even sure if I knew what a chanter WAS ten years ago!!

Katrina said...

St. Vladimir's Seminary has a beautiful Pascha CD. I listen to it all year long except for Great Lent when I put it away. However, after we have had our baskets blessed and we head home Pascha morning, I pop that CD in immediately! $17 at

Fr. James Early said...

Katrina, that sounds beautiful. I'll be sure and pick that one up!