Music for the Orthodox Western Rite: An Unofficial Compendium
Music has always been an integral element of Orthodox worship, and St. Columba's is no exception. Most of the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days is sung by the choir
and congregation. It might seem as if we sing everything except the Sermon and the
1. The Ordinary of the Liturgy: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei,
using settings by John Merbecke or Healey Willan.
At sung Matins and Vespers, we sing Gregorian Psalms, Canticles and Responses from
St. Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter.
2. The minor propers for the day: Introit, Gradual or Tract, Alleluia, Offertory and
Communion, all sung to Gregorian chants.
3. The Gospel is chanted by the Deacon or Priest, and the responses before and after the Gospel,
Gloria tibi and Laus tibi, are sung by the choir and congregation.
4. Additional liturgical music: the Gregorian Asperges me or Vidi aquam that begins
the Liturgy on Sundays, the Lord's Prayer and the communion prayer, Of Thy Mystical
5. Congregational hymns are sung at the opening of the service, before the sermon, at the
Offertory and at the conclusion of the liturgy, as well as the Offertory Doxology
and a communion hymn sung by the choir. Our principal source for congregational
hymns is the St. Ambrose Hymnal.
Both the choir and the congregation at St. Columba's have shown a marked interest in
singing as much of the Liturgy in harmony as possible. This collection of liturgical
music reflects that interest: most of the selections on this site are intended to be
sung in parts, with organ accompaniment.
Our approach to the organ in the Liturgy is to reinforce, as much as possible, the sense
of the texts being sung by the particular stops used at any given time. We would not
be very likely, for example, to accompany a congregational hymn all the way through with
8' and 4' flute stops!
We have endeavored to determine the copyright status of every text and piece of music
on this site. We apologize for any omissions, and will correct errors brought to our
This unofficial collection of music is offered for use in congregations of the Western
Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. Permission is granted
to duplicate for liturgical use only. All other rights reserved.
This setting of the familiar John Merbecke communion service is intended to be sung
in four-part harmony with organ accompaniment, although it can also be sung a cappella.
As an occasional alternative to the Merbecke or Willan Gloria, we also sing this
setting of the Scottish Gloria, in harmony with organ.
For several years, we sang the Nicene Creed on tone (i.e., singing the same note
throughout the text) with organ accompaniment. To facilitate singing the Creed in
harmony, this arrangement was crafted so that every chord except the last contains the
note G. This allowed those who wished to continue to sing on tone to do so, while the
choir and an increasing number of the congregation migrated to singing in parts.
Musically, this setting strikes a middle ground between Anglican chant and the
harmonized chant settings of the Creed often heard in the Russian church.
Here is an original setting of the communion prayer, Of Thy Mystic Supper, in score
format for choral use:
and in a smaller format for use as a bulletin insert:
Of Thy Mystical Supper is a Western Rite oriented arrangement of the Byzantine
Tone 8 tune, using the first portion of the text of the prayer. It is provided
in score format for the organist:
in anthem format for the choir:
and in bulletin insert format:
For Vespers, here are two original Anglican chant settings of the Magnificat and
Nunc dimittis. The first was composed with penitential seasons in mind:
The second was composed for more festal occasions, and was first sung at St. Columba's
at the Solemn Vespers that preceded our organ dedication:
Music for Palm Sunday, including the prescribed Psalm verses set to Anglican
chants and the associated Gregorian antiphons:
At the distribution of palms:
At the procession with blessed palms:
A setting of the Te Deum laudamus for Matins or festive occasions, using three Anglican chants:
General (Romans 8): Let_Christian_faith_and_hope_dispel.pdf
Lent / General: Take_up_thy_cross_Bourbon.pdf
St. Columba: O_God_Thou_art_the_Father.pdf
St. John the Forerunner: The_great_forerunner.pdf
St. Michael and All Angels: Stars_of_the_morning.pdf
St. Nicholas: Almighty_God_of_boundless_love.pdf
St. Thomas / Easter: We_walk_by_faith.pdf