Adaptation of "O Joyous Light" in Grave Mode


Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
Hello all,

Blessed Feast of Theophany!

I have adapted the hymn Φως Ιλαρόν, as written by Demosthenes Paikopoulos, into English. The Greek score (in its various forms) can be found in this thread:

My adaptation is attached to this message. As always, any comments or suggestions are appreciated.

In Christ,



Παλαιό Μέλος
Dear Gabriel,

I took a quick look at your adaptation, and it looks fine overall. I have a few quick comments:

1. I must complain about the idiosyncratic choice of mode in the original composition. All the evidence that I've seen to date points to the fact that when this hymn is chanted at all, it is traditionally chanted in Second Mode. Of course, the popular version by Sakellarides can't be taken seriously from the perspective of classical composition. But even if the ancient melody is too long and impractical for some, there are condensed versions of it that are very traditional. For example, Karas transcribed a setting of the ancient melody in the short melismatic exegesis. There's also a condensed version of the ancient melody by Socrates Papadopoulos, which Papa Ephraim has already adapted into English. Mitri el-Murr has a condensed version of the ancient melody in Arabic in his Anastasimatarion. (Up until very recently, it was the standard melody used in Lebanon, although it seems that the Westernized melody by Sakellarides has started to gain a foothold.) Even the Western musicologist Ella Adaiewsky recorded a brief traditional melody in Second Mode in 1901. Given all this precedent, I can't understand why someone would choose to compose a setting in a different mode. Now, this particular composition by Paikopoulos isn't so bad from a compositional point of view: even though it's written analytically, it uses traditional melodic formulas and is in good taste overall. I can't bring myself to say that it's a harmful innovation, but it definitely feels like a superfluous and unnecessary innovation to me. I would only use it very occasionally, if at all.

2. Although the melody you wrote for "the immortal, heavenly" in line 2 of page 1 is formulaically correct, have you considered the X0X0X0X formula on page 688 (with the red and green variations)? It's not only an exact fit for the text, but it's also much closer to the melody in the original Greek.

3. In classical orthography, the melody for "Jesus Christ" in line 4 of page 1 is written like the second 001 formula on page 692.

4. Although the melody you wrote for "We that come to the setting of the sun" in lines 4-5 of page 1 is formulaically correct, I think it misses a creative opportunity to highlight the lower part of the tetrachord for the phrase "setting of the sun." Consider, as a creative suggestion, the following melody, which is also closer to the melody in the original Greek:

We Di
that Ke
come Zo Ni Zo Ke
to Di (with klasma)
the Ga (preceded by vareia) Vou
set- Ga Di
ting Ga Vou
of Pa (with klasma)
the Vou-Ga (with gorgon) Vou
sun Ga (with two dots)

5. In classical orthography, there isn't a dot next to the gorgon in line 6 of page 1.

6. In line 6 of page 1, the accented syllables "light" and "praise" are only given one beat each, which somewhat underaccentuates the syllable "praise" (and makes the piece more difficult to sing). Instead, you can double the duration of both syllables by putting a klasma on "light" and then use the same melody for "light" as is used for the fourth syllable of the first 100010 formula on page 705. The resulting music is still a 10 formula as before, but now the 0 part of that formula falls on a downbeat. The natural emphasis of a downbeat makes "praise" seem less underaccentuated. Another advantage to this alternative is that it gives the piece a smoother rhythmic flow.

7. Although the melody you wrote for "Son, and" in line 6 of page 1 is formulaically correct, using one beat each for those two words results in a two-beat measure that disrupts the smooth four-beat flow of the piece at that point. Instead, you can use the first two syllables of the 1010100 formula on page 688. It's formulaically equivalent and gives the piece a smoother rhythmic flow. By the way, you might also consider using the rest of that formula for the words "Holy Spirit, God" to give the piece some added variety, though this is a purely creative suggestion.

8. In line 1 of page 2, the dot on the word "times" ends up creating a measure with 5 beats and disrupting the smooth rhythmic flow of the piece. You can fix this by adding a gorgon above that neume, as in the second green section in the first formula on page 683. This trick is often used by the classical composers to make pieces flow more smoothly.

9. In line 2 of page 2, the word "Son" should really only have two beats (as it is written in the original score). You may want to use a fermata to indicate that this note can be held longer at the discretion of the protopsaltis.

10. In classical orthography, the phrase "Giver of life" in line 3 of page 2 would be written as it is written on the top of page 713 of the formula book. (I would also use the first red variation of that formula in order to give the piece a smoother rhythmic flow.)

11. In classical orthography, the syllable "glo-" in line 4 of page 2 would be written as it is in the 10010 formula on page 682. (Technically, it also needs another syllable, but perhaps we can forgive this oversight, since even Paikopoulos made this error in his original.)



Παλαιό Μέλος
5. In classical orthography, there isn't a dot next to the gorgon in line 6 of page 1.
Gabriel got the blame for this one, but the fault is really mine for two reasons:
  1. When I was collecting heirmologic and sticheraric formulas, I frequently didn't bother to do the extra typing necessary to insert this dot. My intention was to automatically add them all in at the end with a macro. But my macro missed many instances.
    [*]On p. 129 of Πανᾶ, Κωνσταντίνου Ι., Θεωρία, Μέθοδος καὶ Ὀρθογραφία τῆς Βυζαντινῆς Ἐκκλησιαστικῆς Μουσικῆς, he claims that kentemata in this kind of phrase must have a dot to the right of the gorgon. I tried to indicate this with rule #32, but I probably confused people by not including the dot in the second example of rule #74. I didn't exactly forget to include it there; I merely copied the example out of a book which failed to include this dot. Many writers of Byzantine music (even some of them who write rules about its orthography) neglect this dot. But if you take a look at compositions of the Three Teachers (such as the second-to-last line of p. 51 of Hourmouzios's Συλλογὴ Ἰδιομέλων καὶ Ἀπολυτικίων), you will see that they do include that dot. So I think I had better include that dot in the second example of rule #74.
To let you in on a secret, there were a few "rules" I encountered when making my collection which were clearly incorrect, so I naturally excluded them. But one of them that I wasn't so sure about was a rule that said something like: "Whenever a gorgon is above kentemata above an oligon followed by an ison, a dot must be written to the right of that gorgon." I tried to verify this rule by looking at compositions of the Three Teachers, but I wasn't sure if the incidents where they didn't follow this rule were because of the carelessness of the typographer (or perhaps even of themselves) or because it really isn't a mandatory rule.

+Papa Ephraim



Παλαιό Μέλος
Gabriel got the blame for this one, but the fault is really mine for two reasons:
I'm sorry, Father, but you must be confused. My comment was about the dot in line 6 of Gabriel's composition (apostrophos followed by yporroe with gorgon), not the dot in line 1 (which has kentemata with gorgon on a supporting oligon followed by an ison). The instance I am referring to in line 6 is for a completely different type of phrase. I agree with you that the dot is necessary in line 1 (and in the second example of rule #74), but I maintain that it's incorrect to use it in line 6.