Singing the Betrothal Service

This article covers the practical aspects of singing the betrothal service which precedes the Mystery of Crowning in the Byzantine tradition.

The betrothal service

The service is ordinarily held in the narthex (porch or vestibule) of the church, with the clergy, the couple intending to be married, and a cantor.

So as cantor, you should adapt your singing based on how large a congregation should be responding with you: either just those present, or everyone in church.

The music for the betrothal is very simple:

"Lord, have mercy"

This service highlights one of the essential working tools of the cantor:

Any time the deacon or priest unexpectedly intones, "Let us pray to the Lord," the proper response is for the people and cantor to sing

Lord, have mercy

This is an exceptionally common pattern in occasional and special services: the Holy Mysteries, blessings of people and things, and special prayers such as the kneeling prayers of Pentecost. As a cantor, you should be able to sing this response immediately upon hearing the cue ("Let us pray to the Lord"). In most cases, there will be a prayer for some particular need, after which you wiill lead the singing of

Amen (short)

Once you can always respond to "Let us pray to the Lord" with "Lord, have mercy" (preferably in the deacon's or priest's key), you will be much less likely to be startled or confused if a special blessing or ceremony is added to one of our services.

The dismissal

If the betrothal is being celebrated as a separate service, it concludes with a dismissal (" and ever.... Give the blessing... Amen").

You can sing the dismissal to a psalm tone, beginning on the tonic, do:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
     now and ever and forever. Amen.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
     Give the blessing.

use or the music from the Divine Liturgy (DL 89-90), which begins on the third degree of the scale, mi:

The latter is more festive.