Chant from Decani Monastery in Serbia


Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
Hi everyone,

Just got back from a visit to Jordanville, where one of the hieromonks was kind enough to let me borrow a CD which is mostly full of Byzantine [?] chant in Slavonic (with some Greek, also).

Anyway, I've been listening to it, and it's really fascinating... the first part of the CD is a recording of the Paraklesis service to St. Stephen of Serbia, chanted by the monks of Decani Monastery.

As far as online sample recordings go, this is what I could find:

I thought perhaps this could start an interesting discussion. I've been listening to the recording; it appears that they chant the Heirmos before each ode of the Kanon (correct me if I'm wrong; I don't know Slavonic, so I'm not sure if they chant the Heirmos or not).

However, if my guess is right, and they are chanting the Heirmos of each Ode (I think they are), and if the Heirmosi are what I think they are, they have been altered considerably from the Greek originals.

Anyway, perhaps some people could contribute here that know Slavonic.

Perhaps the discussion could also move towards the Kovilj Monastery chanting as well.
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This is 100% Serbian folk church music (Srpsko narodno crkveno pojanje), but sung with ison. That's all. Also a lot of their chanting is in modern Serbian.
The chants from Kovilj monastery and from Chilandar monastery are Byzantyne (the second link - The chants from the Decani monastery are not Byzantine with one exception: the Odes of the Paraklesis to the holy king Stefan of Decani are Byzantine. They don't sing the Heirmos (as far as I can tell), only the body of the Odes. Both the text and the melody of the canon resembles the Slavonic text and melody of canon to Godmother (Paraklesis). The melody of the Slavonic canon to Godmother is based on the Greek original but not exactly because the Slavonic text does not use meter so it is impossible to use the same melody for all troparia inside the Ode. The melody of the Heirmos is used as guidance, or as a reminder for the melodic phrases one can/should use.
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The chants from the paraclesis are still not byzantine. Glas 8 of serbian folk church music is somehow similar to the byzantine mode 8.
The resemblance with the Paraklesis to Godmother is more than just the scale. Attached with this message you can find:

1. Scores of first Ode of the Slavonic Paraklesis to Godmother;
2. Paraklesis to Godmother performed by a Bulgarian monk;
3. Paraklesis to St. king Stefan of Decani performed by the monks of Decani monastery.

If I didn't listen to the words of the Serbian monks I would think they were singing the Paraklesis to Godmother. Only the melodies of the verses "O, St. king Stefan...", "Glory to the Father..." and "Both now and ever..." have unexpected finalis.

EDIT: I listened the whole Serbian version of the Paraklesis and now I can agree that as a whole it is not Byzantine. Only for the body of the Odes they have borrowed Byzantine melodies


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Also a lot of their chanting is in modern Serbian.

I noticed that the verses of Theos Kyrios are as in modern Greek practice* and differ** from the Slavonic (Russian) version (although it is known for instance that chanting Ἐξομολογεῖσθε τῷ Κυρίῳ, καὶ ἐπικαλεῖσθε τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ἅγιον αὐτοῦ as the first verse is wrong). I thought Serbs would mainly use Russian Slavonic based liturgical books (well, with their own pronounciation...) whenever they chant in Slavonic and not Serbian, but it seems I'm wrong.

* I'm talking about books neglecting the fact that they are often omitted altogether in practice.

** One exception is the Sylleitourgikon by Simonopetra monastery.
What can I hear they do chant Heirmoses and they are rather Byzantine like. Most visible is it I believe at the troparias after the third and sixt Canticles ( Preserve and save, O Theotokos, your servants from every danger; after God do all of us for refuge flee to you; you are a firm rampart and our protection. ) That does not remind me of the traditional serbian chant at all and copies the byzantine melody. Theos Kyrios and the non canticle troparias and kontakias are sung according to the serbian chant with ison. And I do not see any difference between the verses on Theos Kyrios as they sing and The verses in my Russian Horologion.