Its most likely been discussed to death, but nevertheless...

edited December 1969 in Hymns Discussion
Hello guys, I haven't posted around here for a a long time so you'll forgive what might be seen as a random intrusion.

I'd be astonished if this issue hasn't been discussed before, but I would really appreciate people's input so as to allow myself to make an informed decision:

Sources of Coptic Hymns.

From what I've read and looked at (I'm am not a Mo'allem or an expert), it is almost universally agreed that Mo'allem Mikhail El- Batanouny the Great is the most reliable source; after all, he collected what was left of our hymns under the instruction of Pope Cyril V.

So, logically, it would make the most sense to go straight to the source and learn the hymns there. That should provide the most reliable rendition of the hymn.

And, I have found the collection by the Mo'allem here: Hymns/Cantor Mikhail Girgis El Batanouny Collection/Tape_01

Now, prior to this, I have learnt my hymns from different sources, mainly: HICS, Mo'allem Farag Abdelmessih, Mo'allem Wagdi Bishara.

And many hymns simply from my youth - from growing up in a church and listening to deacons. Hymns that are known commonly to many people e.g. Agios O Theos, Thok Te Ti Gom - for such hymns I have never heard recordings from certain cantors; I simply heard them being said since my youth in the church - I cannot account for the sources of the deacons, but I imagine to a certain extent that the fact that most of these commonly said hymns are said "universally" by all in virtually the same way I will not have to return to the source of Mo'allem Mikhail to relearn.

I have heard many criticisms of HICS and HCOC by various people. The main criticism of the former seems to have regarded the recording of the Liturgy of St. Cyril (the view that the "completed" version which was recorded by Fr. Mettias Nasr [with the tarkeeb or building upon of the tunes taken from the Gregorian Liturgy] should not have been done vs. the view that the completed version is much better than the alternative of simply having unusable fragments). The criticisms I've heard about HCOC are that they are simply re-recording what Mo'allem Mikhail recorded, albeit in a form that is "easier" to learn from.

I do not wish to spark arguments, though. The real crux of the issue with me is this: there will always be fluctuations of differences  in Mo'allems taught from the same source. I mean, they will never, ever be 100% identical to the Mo'allem they received the hymn from. Don't get me wrong on this point - you can definitely identify a certain melisma or hazza and know that they were thus passed on from a certain Mo'allem, but we are human beings and not machines. The main elements of a hazza might be present, but slight differences can and will occur, and I imagine these differences will become more and more defined and greater as the number of times the hymn has been passed on increases. Each cantor will make slight changes, unintentionally of course, or may forget, mis-teach etc. And that is why I am incredibly happy that we are all agreed and have Mo'allem Mikhail's recordings as a benchmark. I love the Churches hymns, and I want to preserve them as much as I can. The fact that the we can always refer to the Mo'allem Mikhail's recordings is for me a relief that when learning hymns we can always (as much as possible) learn them without the differences caused by the passage of time.

Having written this, I realise that I don't really have a question as such. I've talked myself into a circle of sorts  ;D. My conclusion on the matter is that I'll try as many hymns as I can from the recordings of Mo'allem Mikhail.

What are your opinions on the matter?  :)

pray for me



  • im actually surprised that ppl critized HICS because my alhan teacher tells us to always learn hymns from HICS.
  • [quote author=aripsalin23 link=topic=9066.msg112803#msg112803 date=1270418760]
    im actually surprised that ppl critized HICS because my alhan teacher tells us to always learn hymns from HICS.

    Same man. I learn a lot of my hymns from HICS.
  • Joe I miss you on here man, I love the topics you start.

    Overall, the best source for the most part in my opinion, which I'm sure its not that important, is to go to Muallem mikhail. If not him, look for a general consistency in the hymns. If there is a general consensus then its safe to say any source is fine to learn from. If there seems to be a division I would go to the oldest possible source. However, that doesn't mean other ways are totally discredited. We have to remember that there are different schools of thought. Take tishori for good friday for example. There is the normal way that most people say it. The longer way and the alexandrian way. Is only one right? Of course not, simply just different schools of thought. As far as HICS and HCOC go, both are fine to learn from. However, I don't see why HCOC would be a primary source. God bless their service for providing high quality recordings, however, it seems like the actual CD's are a means of fundraising(which is actually not a bad thing in my opinion), what I love and admire most are the actual lessons on the site. What Abouna mattias did concerning st cyril's liturgy is beyond reproach by many, since many if not all can do no better than he did. Its better to have something, as you said, then nothing at all. Overall, I suppose there is no one way to learn a hymn specifically. I think its good to observe and learn all types of school of thought as possible. If you can learn the shorter Tishori for good friday, the longer and the alexandrian tune than thats great! Complete consistency with hymns is impossible

    Pray for me and my weakness
  • Hehe, sup there John mate, been missing you too  :D

    Yeah, I agree with what you're saying. It seems that the site have only uploaded the first 4 tapes out of 24 by Mo'allem Mikhail, and they contain Resurrection, Paschal and Annual stuff, as well as Gregorian and some miscellaneous Cyrillian. I'm gonna tackle my way through that ASAP - most of the hymns I've covered, but I'm very interested to see how far off the original I am.

    Because at the moment I can't get all 24 tapes, I will have to (unless they upload them in the near future) learn from the sources I've been using. I've always favoured Cantor Farag Abdelmessih and HICS - I would rather learn the hymn in as an original way as possible then learning a modern adaptation that sounds better in my ears (which I do feel Ibrahim Ayad's more recent recordings sound like).

    In fact, when I go to Shoubra, Cairo I spend quite a bit of time with a Mo'allem there, called Mo'allem Sa3d. When I asked him who passed on the hymns to him, he said he learnt from the school/similar to the school of Mo'allem Gad Lewis who he recommended. When I asked him about HICS, he said that they are different (in that they teach hymns in a different way) but are constant in that "deviation", i.e. they don't change the way they say a hymn.

    And with regards to complete consistency, I'm with you on that one. Its a bit more work, but honestly, if I could I'd learn every last one, I would  ;D

    pray for me

  • [coptic]`<C anecty[/coptic]
    Completely agree with jydeacon in his argument "this time". Don't know how that has happened :-)
    [coptic]oujai qen `P[C[/coptic]
  • Hi all,

    I think the most important thing with regard to hymnology in our church is the benefit it confers on us; i.e. that the church lifts their voices and hearts as one in praise and worship. It's very easy to delve into these things in such depth that you lose sight of what is important with regard to these hymns, and you rightly said Joe that this has been discussed to death!

    It's certainly admirable that we try to use an authentic a source as possible when learning these hymns, but we need to constantly question ourselves and ask WHY we are doing this; are we learning these hymns for the sake of learning them, or are we using them for the purpose that they were intended? I was originally taught by a deacon from the school of Mlm Farag when I was young, and then went on to learn from recordings of various sources (HICS, Mlm Ibrahim Ayad etc.) and I learnt a very valuable lesson. Authenticity is very good - it's a blessing to be able to chant these hymns in the same way as our ancestors before us did. But even better than authenticity is consistency - to be able to chant these hymns in the same way as our brethren beside us at this moment and to unite in prayer.

    Now as you guys have said, absolute consistency is probably impossible to achieve for the reasons you've already mentioned. However, consistency within one church isn't too difficult and that's certainly a good place to start. I've seen different mo3alimeen pray together, and it really is wonderful to see - not because of their individual talent, but because they're differences in terms of rite/melismata/schools go completely out the window and you're left with prayer.

    All these sources exist, and they're trusted sources. As long as you have an agreed consistency within your church (and hopefully within the diocese) that is based on one of these trusted sources, then you needn't worry about authenticity.

    Every blessing,

    (and hopefully see you soon Joe!)

  • Yo thanks Matt, thanks for the wise words. Totally agree with you  :D

    Yeah man, come down here soon, or I'll come up there soon!  ;D

    pray for me

  • I don't see what's the big deal. Yes jospeh, you answered your own question.

    Whoever says that MMikhael is the most reliable source of hymns is right....but only based on the fact that he reacord many many things with the help of Dr Rapheb. What is lost though is that the whole reason stating the movment of recording and creating HICS (because was originaly lead by those cantors) is that at that time ppl were leaving hymns. So they recorded so that the hymns do not die. But happened is that by that, hymns were brought on the top again especially with the help of HICS. The original HICS chorus is the greatest chorus ever made and I doubt anyone will come close to them. It is trully the greatest thing Dr Ragheb moftah ever did without knowing. If you hear some of mSadek interveiws, he says that the only proud thing he did in his life was leading that chorus. He is right; it's not easy to synch the voice of over a hundred ppl to come out as one voice without any of today's special effects. About that Saint Curil Liturgy recording, it's something recent that I don't think should effect the entire name of HICS.

    I'll post more a class. 
  • Ah well, there's nothing wrong with getting a debate going - I learn something every time that way  :D
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