The Chanted Psalms
in the Pre-Nikonian Russian Orthodox Church

by Nikita Simmons - November, 2004

(* indicates alternate melodies available)

See also: The Practice of "Stichologia" in the Pre-Nikonian Russian Church

I. Vespers

II. Presanctified Liturgy

III. Great Compline

IV. Matins

V. Liturgy

VI. Other Occasions


Methods of performance:

A portable analogion is placed on the "ambon" (a slightly raised platform in the front part of the nave, under the rotunda and/or chandelier, in front of the Royal Doors but not on the solea). Many of the readings from the Psalter are read from this location (henceforth referred to as "from the ambon"). (The raised platform may be the same as that used by the bishop when he serves a hierarchical liturgy; this platform is not a fixed element of the church's architecture.)

The majority of the readings from the Psalter are performed by an individual with the title of "Psalmist" (psalo'mshchik). In monasteries and cathedrals this may be the responsibility of certain appointed individuals, but in general parish practice this role is assigned to the readers arbitrarily. In some situations (such as the reading of the Hours, Compline and the Midnight Office), the Psalmist reads only the psalms, alternating with the Reader (chets) who is appointed to read the prayers of the services.

In the Old Rite, the appointed psalms are almost always done in their entirety, not just selected verses. When psalms are appointed to be "sung" or "chanted", the usual method of performance is called "stikhologisati", which means "to recite by verses". To be more specific: the Psalmist, reading from the ambon, alternates with the two choirs antiphonally (the Psalmist reads a verse or selection of verses, and it is completed by the right kleros; then the Psalmist reads a verse and it is completed by the left kleros). Some of the psalms, however, are merely chanted antiphonally without a Psalmist, while others (such as in processions) are sung by all the chanters together.