Hymns Similarities

edited July 2017 in Hymns Discussion

I'm sure everyone realises that many hymns have similarities in their music. Some have similar hazzat; for example, Megalo has parts similar to the recurring theme in Ethve-ti, and so does Okati. I'm sure we all know about the opening of Hos Erof and Tenen, which is included in Pekethronos.

Sometimes not just a few hazzat but an entire melody is shared between them. For example, there is a particular melody that is present in both Evlogimenos and Pekethronos, as well as some of the Bright Saturday hymns, and in the 'extra-long' 4th Amen in the Gregorian Fraction introduction. I'm sure this similarity is not lost on anyone who has learned these hymns.
Other examples which puzzle me include:
Megalo (at Megalo) and O Nim Nai (at Cymphonia)
Praxeonton includes the opening melody of Genethlion.

I'm sure there are many other similarities that I am not aware of.

I can understand if Megalo and Ethve-ti have similarities. But Megalo and O Nim Nai are almost different 'seasons' - one could argue they have similar subject matter, but I think that is a stretch. Even more odd is Praxeonton including the melody from Genethlion.

One could theorise; perhaps a composer of one saw fit to include the melody of a long-existing hymn, or if it was the same composer he saw fit to include the melody in both.

Contemplations and explanations are written about hymns suggesting the particular music is composed in such a way to emphasise such a point about the words or event. But if a melody can be used in any hymn on any words, does it even have any meaning then specific to the words?

  • I'm very interested in hymns and would be really appreciative if anyone had any explanation for this recurrence of melodies. Perhaps if a certain melody is seen as 'joyful', such as the one shared by Evlogimenos and Pekethronos, it is used in several hymns to create this joyful tone. Perhaps there is no reason at all, and I'm making up something out of nothing.
    • On a similar note, this makes me wonder at the composers of these hymns. I've read a lot about the writers but never anything about the composers of each hymn. Does anyone know anything about this? I only have a detached knowledge about the history of hymns; I've only read random articles contemplating on single hymns, but never a comprehensive history of hymns in the church from the beginning til now - maybe I'm asking too much.
If anyone has any information, or any books, articles, even other threads I may have missed, and other resources on these topics I would really be appreciative. 
Many apologies for the long post, I would really appreciate your answers. God Bless :)


  • There are different theories regarding this issue. One is that the concept of copyrights, individuality and originality developed after the composition of these hymns, thus it is difficult to assess Coptic Hymns in this light.

    Also, Hans Hickmann in The Coptic Encyclopaedia (1991) stated that Coptic Hymns had at least 10 different motifs that are recurrent in various hymns.

    There is also the theory of 'Formula' or formula-based composition, that they dealt with music not at the level of single notes to form music but rather by coalescing different chunks together to form a new melody, and composing in between. It is akin to the art of collage in visual arts or medley in music.

    I am not aware that there's any satisfactory symbolic value of having a section of Paschal Hymn in Midnight Prayers. I doubt that the concept of symbolism in music was developed at that time.
  • Just to add another hymn to this list: this hymn of Dimas (Wouniatk `n;ok `w Dymac) shares parts with <rictoc Anecti, Vai Etafenf, and Arehou`o {acf. These 3 hymns are different in their seasons just as Genethlion and Praxeon. However, thinking about the spirituality of the hymns may help a bit. Take my example of Dimas:
    +A hymn of the Resurrection because he was promised the Eternal Life, and thus, the Resurrection
    +The Hymn of the Cross because he was crucified along with our Savior
    +The hymn "Praise Him and Exalt Him" because the words of the thief were that of praise

    I don't know Genethlion nor Praxeon, so I can't help there. But also, maybe certain examples could be entirely accidental, or maybe you're looking in the wrong spot- maybe the part is shared with a 3rd hymn that makes a bit more of a more apparent connection?

    Pray for me.
Sign In or Register to comment.