A Light in the Darkness
Chant, in harmony and oneness of heart, welcomes the presence of the Almighty God and directs all of our senses towards focusing on Him. The beauty of Coptic Orthodox chant is that it combines imperative theological teaching, personal prayer, and emotional tunes which deeply soothe the soul. }galilea is a perfect example of this fullness of prayer: using powerful music to enter one’s heart and enlightening the mind through the knowledge of the Holy Trinity.
This beautiful melisma is the tune mentioned as the processional hymn and it may also be prayed during the Wednesday Tadakia, if time permits. When chanted as a processional hymn, the melisma is chanted, but the rest of the verses are sung in the festal tune. (See the Doxology and Gospel Response Tune Section)
The first two musical sentences of the melisma are identical, and they are rather upbeat. They carry similarity to the hymn Twounou (Ten ;ynou) with a shift in the tune toward the fifth and sixth syllables of the text. The third musical sentence also begins in like manner, but the shift in tune is independent from that of the first two verses, and it leads into the concluding fourth musical sentence.
There are slight differences between renditions, based on the cantors’ personal styles and those whom they learned this tune from. The majority of these variations are present at the very beginning of the hymn, some cantors start the hymn with a specific introduction that is not present in other hymns, while others use the same introduction from Twounou. The rest of the variations exist in the shift section and the conclusion of the hymn. They are minute discrepancies but are important to note nonetheless.
It is important to note that the same melismatic tune is used for selected verses in each of the other wados tadakias as well (Thursday – Piouai ebolqen }triac | Friday – }par;enoc Mariam | Saturday – Areten;wn] )
The following playlist is comprised of the recordings I have of this melisma. I have also recorded the tune in the original pronunciation of Bohairic Coptic for reference, while adjusting certain transitional discrepancies.
Notes on these Recordings
- Cantor Mikhail Girgis chants the introduction of the hymn with its own specific piece. His conclusion in this recording is also slightly varying from his rendition of this same tune in the other verses from the other tadakias.
- Cantor Tawfik Youssef sings the introduction of the hymn like Twounou. He also chants Verse 2 in the melismatic tune as well. He generally does have a slightly different style in his oration. Notice his pronunciation!
- Deacon Ibrahim Ayad has more than one recording for this hymn. There are slight differences in these renditions based on who handed the hymn down to him at the time. The first recording is closely linked to Cantor Mikhail’s rendition. It is also closer to what the Synodal committee has agreed upon. A newer recording will be released shortly.
General :eotokia Tune
From my experience, the majority of members in the Coptic Orthodox Church love this tune. It is powerful, simple, and awakening. I’ve included recordings of the entire Wednesday tadakia for your listening purposes. Some of these tracks are wonderful, so enjoy them! I’ve also recorded }galilea with the original pronunciation of Bohairic Coptic in this tune.
Notes on these Recordings
- Please pay special attention to the recordings of Cantor Wahba Aaryan of Alexandria and Cantor Abdo Isaac of Mallawi. They are absolute treasures from more than 50 years ago.
- Fr. Shenouda Maher’s recording includes the entire tadakia in the original pronunciation of Bohairic Coptic.
Because the verses of this hymn are utilized mainly on the Feasts of the Lord, the doxologies and gospel responses fall under the wados festal tune. The main difference between the doxologies and the gospel response renditions is simply the tempo. The gospel responses are usually sung much slower than the doxologies are, especially in Cairo. In Upper Egypt, this variance is barely noticeable.
Communion Paralex Tune
As was mentioned by the Order of the Church this hymn is also used as a communion hymn during the feasts of the Lord. For the Feast of Nativity, it is to be chanted in the same tune as Gene;lion. I do not have the time at the moment to record that specific rendition, and it is highly unlikely that parishes will ever need it. Unfortunately, we rarely ever chant Gene;lion to begin with. That being said, I have recorded two verses of the standard Paralex tune that should be used for the other Feasts of the Lord.
Without prayer, the hymns of our church have no purpose. So, we must internalize these praises to establish a personal interaction with our God…