The texts, music and commentary on this website were prepared by the Metropolitan Cantor Institute of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. They are approved for provisional use in the Archeparchy, but are otherwise unofficial and should be considered superseded by any materials promulgated by the Council of Hierarchs.

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Upcoming Events

January 10, 2015 - MCI class: Workshop on Paraliturgical Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA.

February 7 - MCI class: Reader Services and Typika, Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA.

complete upcoming events

Liturgical Calendar

November 15 is the beginning of St. Philip's Fast, which ends on December 24.
Emmanuel Moleben (supplement)

December 6 is the feast of our holy father Nicholas, archbishop of Myra.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Matins - Divine Liturgy

December 7 is the twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost, and a pre-festive day of the Maternity of Holy Anna.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

December 8 is the feast of the Maternity of Holy Anna.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

December 12 is the feast of the Theotokos of Guadalupe.
Divine Liturgy

December 14 is the second Sunday before the Nativity, the Sunday of the Forefathers.
Vespers - Divine Liturgy

December 21 is the Sunday before the Nativity, the Sunday of the Ancestors.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

December 24 is the Vigil of the Nativity.
Royal Hours (adapted)

December 25 is the feast of the NATIVITY of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Vespers with Divine Liturgy (A - B) - Great Compline - Matins - Divine Liturgy

December 26 is the Synaxis of the Mother of God.
Divine Liturgy

December 27 is feast of the holy apostle and first martyr Stephen.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

December 28 is Sunday after Nativity, on which we commemorate Saints Joseph, James and David.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

December 31 is the leave-taking of the Nativity.

January 1 is the feast of the Circumcision of the Lord, and the feast of St. Basil the Great.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

January 4 is the Sunday before Theophany.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

January 5 is the Vigil of Theophany.
Royal Hours (adapted)

January 6 is the feast of the THEOPHANY of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Vespers with Divine Liturgy (A - B) - Great Compline - Matins - Divine Liturgy
- Blessing of Homes

January 7 is the Synaxis of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist.
Vespers - Divine Liturgy

January 11 is the Sunday after Theophany.
Vespers - Divine Liturgy

January 18 is the Sunday of Zacchaeus.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

January 25 is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, and the feast of St. Gregory the Theologian.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

January 30 is feast of the Three Holy Bishops: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom.
Vespers (samohlasen) - Divine Liturgy

complete liturgical calendar

upcoming music for review

Vigil Divine Liturgy propers

January 1 - Circumcision; St. Basil

January 30 - Three Holy Hierarchs

Join the forum!

Ask questions, make comments and suggestions; discuss our chant and liturgy. Just click on Forum at the top of this page, then click on Register (authorization code is 1906). Once you are registered, just use the Forum link at the top of any page to join the ongoing conversation.

MCI Classes for 2015

Each month, the Cantor Institute holds a Saturday class in Pittsburgh on church singing and chant leadership. The classes run from 9 AM to 3 PM and cover liturgy, use of the voice, leadership skills for cantors, and chant repertoire. All classes are held at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary, 3605 Perrysville Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15214.

Here are the class dates and topics for 2015:

All classes will have material for both new and experienced cantors. Students may register for the entire year for $120, which includes lunch, materials, and twelve months of the MCI Online program (see below). Students may also register for individual classes ($20/class for lunch and materials), but must do so one week before the class. See this brochure for details!

MCI Distance Learning Program to start in January

To meet the needs of cantors and prospective cantors far from the Pittsburgh area – and to provide additional resources to local cantors as well – the Metropolitan Cantor Institute has created a distance learning program, which we call MCI Online. Using a computer connected to the Internet, students will be able to view lessons on their own schedule, take quizzes to test their knowledge, and gain access to other instructional materials (including copyrighted materials we cannot simply post on the MCI website).

How do I get started?

  1. Students who register for the full year of MCI classes are automatically enrolled in MCI Online.
  2. Cantors outside the Pittsburgh area who wish to enroll in MCI Online (only) can do so for $60 per year. This fee allows access to all online cantor classes AND a certain amount of individualized instruction (coaching, assistance with difficulties, etc.)

Use of MCI Online requires a computer with access to the Internet, a Web browser, and speakers or headphones. Older computers may not support all MCI Online features. Information about MCI Online will be sent to students upon enrollment. See this brochure for registration information.

Christmas - The Nativity of Our Lord

The feast of Christmas, which the liturgical books of the Byzantine Rite call The nativity (birth) in the flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, begins the cycle of winter feasts that are sometimes called the "Feasts of Light". (more)

Table of Contents for the Divine Liturgies book

The Metropolitan Cantor Institute is happy to provide a complete table of contents for the The Divine Liturgies of our holy fathers John Chrysostom and Basil the Great. It can be printed on a single sheet of legal size paper. Cantor Robert Pipta of Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church, Anaheim, CA (whose work it is) suggests: "Fold in half, trim the edges and it fits into the pewbook. I carefully used a small drop of super glue to hold the TOC in place in the pew book between pages 2 and 3."

Table of contents - Table of contents for printing on legal size paper

Divine Liturgy book in Church Slavonic - with music

Also from Anaheim is a 40-page service book for the Divine Liturgy in Church Slavonic, with music throughout, following the pattern of the English-language Divine Liturgies book, and including rubrics for the people in English. This book is ideal for cantors who celebrate some or all of the Divine Liturgy in Slavonic.

Like most service books from the MCI, this booklet is set up to print 2-up (that is, two pages per sheet, side by side) on legal size paper. If you want a version of the file that is already set up for printing on legal paper, open the file you want in a web browser, and add "_booklet" immediately before ".pdf" in the URL. This will take you to a "camera-ready" version.

Be sure to visit the Official Publications page to see all our contributed materials for use with the official Divine Liturgies book.

Cantor Institute to hold hymn workshop

The first Metropolitan Cantor Institute class for 2015 will be a workshop on our paraliturgical hymns and spiritual songs: Marian hymns, Christmas kolady, and so on.  The class, on January 10 from 10 AM to 3 PM at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, will cover:

Cantors are invited to bring their own hymns for potential inclusion in a forthcoming hymnal.  Attendance is free for those enrolled in the Metropolitan Cantor Institute for 2015, or $20.00 otherwise.  To register, contact MCI Director Jeff Mierzejewski at (412) 735-1676 or mci@archpitt.org.

Vespers - with Sister Vassa

Cantors might be interested in several recent 10-minute videocasts by Sister Vassa Larin, a Russian Orthodox nun and liturgical scholar. (There are from the series Coffee with Sister Vassa, which usual begins with some chattiness before getting down to business. But the content is quite worthwhile for anyone interested in Vespers.)

The Christmas Fast

The Christmas Fast, in preparation for the feast of the Nativity on December 25, is one of the minor fasts of the Church. This fast of forty days was introduced in the 12th century. Counting back 40 days from the feast of the Nativity, the fast begins on the evening of November 14 - the feast of the holy apostle Phillip. As a result, it is traditionally called Phillip's Fast or the Phillipian Fast (in Slavonic, Filipovka). (more)

The Emmanuel Moleben

In many places, it has become traditional to celebrate a devotional service called a moleben during the pre-Christmas fast. This service is not one of the fixed daily offices, like Vespers or the Divine Liturgy, and so it can be celebrated at any time of the day, and on any day of the week. This particular moleben uses the pre-festal hymns of the Nativity, and readings like those of the Royal Hours. Several different versions of this service are presently in use in the Byzantine Catholic Church. All of them emphasize the message of preparation for the Nativity - "Come, Lord Jesus!" - and the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah.

This service can be used occasionally or weekly throughout the Christmas Fast, to help the faithful prepare for the coming feast. The version prepared by the Metropolitan Cantor Institute consists of a people's book, and a supplement containing the clergy's part of the service, and the readings.

To assist cantors and clergy in learning the service, here are recordings of the two unique parts of the service, the Exaltation and the Divine Praises, along with the responses at the Gospel.

What is the Metropolitan Cantor Institute?

The Metropolitan Cantor Institute exists to support and foster liturgical singing in the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh. At the direction of our bishops, and in cooperation with our clergy and experienced cantors, the Institute trains and certifies cantors for the service of the church, prepares music and educational materials, and provides workshops and seminars in church singing.

The mission of the Metropolitan Cantor Institute:

To ensure that each parish in the Byzantine Catholic Church has a cantor who can lead the liturgical singing of the parish well, to the glory of God and in support of the prayer of the faithful.

Identifying and Honoring our Cantors

In 1974, for its fiftieth anniversary, the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh honored all its cantors, current and retired, in the context of the St. Nicholas Dinner, at which the program booklet included photos and brief biographies of each cantor.

For the 90th anniversary, in 2014, we would like to honor the cantors of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh in a similar fashion, and encourage the other eparchies to do likewise. This has the potential to bear fruit for years to come in increased awareness of and respect for our church singing and its practitioners.  

The chancery will be contacting each parish in the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh in order to compile a current list of our cantors.

Documenting the history of our church music - how you can help

The Metropolitan Cantor Institute is working with the Byzantine Catholic Seminary Library to put together material to document the history of the liturgical music of the Byzantine Catholic Church, both plain chant and choral music. Earlier this year, Metropolitan William put out a request to clergy to help in this effort.

Later this year, we will be posting a list of particular items we are looking for, as well as some scanned images that we could use help identifying.

We are also interested in recordings. Here is our working list current list of Greek Catholic plain chant and choral recordings done in the United States:

If you have additional information about any of the recordings in this list (or if you have access to copies of recordings that the seminary does not yet have), please contact us!

Workshop recordings

Cantor's Retreat

Unfortunately, we were unable to hold a Cantors' Day of Recollection this year, and so we are providing here the talks from last year's retreat, which was given at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, PA.

Both talks about by Fr. David Mastroberte, a priest of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.

Mailing lists

A number of electronic mailing lists are available for Byzantine Catholic cantors and those interested in church music. Click on the name of the group to sign up.

mcinews Announcements of cantor education opportunities in the Byzantine Catholic Church
mcicantors Open discussion list for cantors to discuss Byzantine liturgy, plain chant, and congregational leadership.
mcichoral Open discussion list for choir directors, choir members, and those interested in choral music
mcimusicfiles Monthly distribution of sheet music from the Metropolitan Cantor Institute

These lists will eventually replace the under-used Forum on this website. Each list is archived, so older posts can be viewed and searched. Please sign up for the lists of interest to you!