Saturday 8 December - Office for the Nativity of the Virgin (Melkite Chant)

CD Cover

Sung by Sister Marie Keyrouz and the Chorale d'Eglise Saint Julien le Pauvre, from Les Très Riches Heures du Moyen Age.

Today is the feast of the conception of Mary, not her birth, but I figured some really old music would do you all good ;-)

The oldest type of music used in the Melkite (Greek) Catholic church is more often known simply as Byzantine chant. It has its origins in the ancient diocese or Patriarchate of Antioch, in the eastern Mediterranean. The music uses tunings (the frequency or pitch of the notes in the scales) that are different from those used in the West, so can sound exotic to Western ears and cannot easily be played on Western musical instruments.

The language sung here is likely Greek or Arabic (though I don't know enough to say for sure). Even older are the Syriac-language chants of the Syriac Orthodox Church, which have a fair claim to be some of the oldest Christian music still in use - the language is used for the liturgy of many other ancient Eastern Christian churches.

Other samples of Melkite chant, this time in English, can be found here. Sister Marie Keyrouz's Wikipedia page is here.