It All Makes Sense. Hallelujah!
These tunes are chanted while the priest is ascending into the sanctuary, placing incense into the censer.
Offering of Incense (Standard Days)
Phrases 3 & 4 of the psalms during the offering of incense would be chanted in the following tune after the melisma: Je Aucaji.
This tune is quite succinct and is followed by the recitative tune in most recordings. I’ve clipped these tracks so as to include only the third and fourth phrases of the psalm. I will go into more detail when discussing the recitative tune and the tawwaf psalm.
Liturgy of the Word (Standard Days)
After the first two phrases of the psalm in the Singary melisma, summary or abbreviated tunes, the following tune is used during standard days.
When the Singary melisma stopped being chanted, the cantors extrapolated portions of the intermediate tune and mixed them with parts of the singary. You’ll notice that there is much discrepancy amongst the cantors for the first two phrases in the intermediate tune. As a matter of fact, the same cantor may be found to chant the first two phrases in different ways, since they were never standardized (see Cantor Mikhail’s recordings).
Festive (Feast of the Lord)
During the feasts of the Lord and other festive occasions in the Coptic church, the psalms are chanted in a special intermediate tune. It is important to note that this goes for the psalms chanted during the offering of incense and the liturgy of the word. The only occasion wherein the tunes differ between the offering of incense and the liturgy of the word is the standard/annual days.
Structurally, I’d like to split the festive tune of the psalm chant into five segments.
1. Three longer, introductory alleluias – On feast days, we chant these three alleluias prior to the singary melisma. This is why they have recently been considered a part of the melisma. They are not.
2. First two phrases of the psalm and the short alleluias – Assuming the singary melisma is not chanted, the first two phrases of the psalm are chanted in the festive intermediate tune and then concluded with three short alleluias.
3. Second two phrases of the psalm are chanted in the same intermediate tune as the first two phrases.
4. Tawwaf psalm – The specific tawwaf psalm for the feast is chanted in the recitative tune (discussed later)
5. Psalm response and concluding alleluias
The feasts of the Lord also include psalm responses that reiterate the belief of the Church regarding the occasion. These responses should be chanted after the tawwaf psalm is concluded. You will hear a few of them in these recordings.
The Alleluias at the conclusion of the psalm response have an elongation that is usually only chanted if the singary melisma is chanted.
Please listen to the tracks below, with this structure in mind.
There is also a specific tune for the psalm chant during the month of Kiahk. The structure of this psalm chant is almost identical to that of the festive psalm chant. The only differences are that there are four alleluias in the introduction and there are no responses at the end of the psalm other than the word Alleluia.
When the priest has finished placing the incense, and the second two phrases of the psalm have been chanted, the procession with the book of the gospel begins. The chanters and deacons say the tawwaf psalm, selecting the appropriate psalms based on the occasion.