The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

At long last, Cappella Romana is releasing their recording of the Divine Liturgy in English:

To be released this July
The Divine Liturgy in English
In Byzantine Chant – A 2-CD set


The highly anticipated release of Cappella Romana’s groundbreaking recording of the complete Divine Liturgy in English, set to traditional Byzantine chant, will be released on July 14 at the Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Church of America in Washington, DC.

The CD will first be available at the congress, and orders may be placed online beginning July 14. Shipments will begin July 19.


Employing the official English translation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, this 2-disc set presents the complete service (ακολουθία) of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. Litanies and prayers pertaining to the entire Eucharistic assembly are rendered in full. The hymns and responses represent the central traditions of Byzantine chanting, including works adapted from Petros Peloponnesios, Nileus Kamarados, and St. John Koukouzelis.

A collection of musical scores for the chants on this recording will be available in Byzantine and Western (staff) notation through our website.

This recording was made possible by major grants from the Virginia H. Farah Foundation, the A.G. Leventis Foundation, the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, and the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians.

I realize that there are two of you pumping your fists right now cheering “Right ON!” and the remaining three of you who are wondering what the heck this is and why it’s important. That’s okay. Basically, this recording, has the potential to set the standard for what Byzantine chant should sound like in English. Right now there’s kind of a range of poor to really good — the best example in English of which I can think right now being the Mt. Lebanon Choir’s recording (but which doesn’t quite set the standard, at least for me, because it’s clear it’s being sung by non-native English speakers), and I’d really rather not go into which ones I don’t exactly find optimal, at least not in a public forum.

Let’s put it this way — it’s clear to me that the English recordings of the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chapel Choir over the years have had a huge impact on what people expect to hear. I’m very hopeful that this recording, intentionally a thorough effort to match a good English translation to the traditional settings, sung by a professional choir which counts several faithful Orthodox Christians among its membership and staff (including its artistic and executive directors), can have a similar impact. If the entire recording is as good as excerpts to which I was treated a couple of years ago, it should also settle once and for all the silly question of whether or not Byzantine chant can sound good in English or if it will always sound like “camel-whipping music” (a particular friend’s term).

For my own part, I will say that I believe this recording was announced four years ago, and was completed two years ago or so, and I’ve definitely been one of the people “highly anticipating” its release that whole time. (I think I’ve been posting annoying “When does it come out?” comments on the CR blog for roughly the last year.) I’ll also briefly mention that the friendship of the executive director, Mark Powell, along with his wife Kathleen, to say nothing of the willingness to talk about his faith and to answer questions, was one of the major instruments by means of which Megan and I were initially exposed to Orthodox Christianity, and it’s been an example we’ve tried to follow since — but that’s a story for another time.

I will also note that Cappella Romana also has a sale going on where the Lycourgos Angelopoulos recording of the Divine Liturgy is available for roughly 20% off. This is one of the recordings which really captivated me early on, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It was very difficult to find in this country five years ago, and could very well be so again with the way non-pop recordings come in and out of print, so I encourage you to get it while you can!


4 Responses to “The moment you’ve <i>all</i> been waiting for…”

  1. 1 Eric Jobe 20 June 2008 at 7:13 am

    That will make a lovely birthday present for myself…yes it will.

  2. 2 Richard Barrett 20 June 2008 at 7:33 am

    Eric — I don’t know if you remember me at all, but we met at Dorushe. Nice to see you drop by.

    And I can’t agree with you more — after all, let us not forget the wisdom of Special Agent Dale Cooper. Now, what would be great is if I could get a volume discount and get copies for my whole choir…

  3. 3 Eric Jobe 22 June 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Of course I remember you. We are friends on Facebook as well.

  4. 4 Richard Barrett 22 June 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Well, yeah, but there are Facebook friends and there are Facebook friends, if you know what I mean… I just never know who might remember me and who might not.

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