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Choral Corner #9: Why is “It is Truly Meet” occasionally replaced with another hymn?

At the Divine Liturgy, why does It is Truly Meet occasionally get replaced with something else?

At the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (the “usual” Divine Liturgy), immediately after the consecration of the Holy Mysteries, the choir sings a hymn to the Theotokos: It is truly meet. However, the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great has another hymn at the same point, also in honor of the Mother of God: In thee rejoices all creation, O Full of Grace. In terms of what the choir sings, this is the only concrete difference between the two Liturgies. In both cases, the rubrics dictate which hymn to sing, but the choir director has some leeway with regard to the musical setting; It is truly meet is traditionally sung in the eighth tone, but at St. Mark’s, we also rotate through a series of special melodies for this hymn. However, at the Liturgy of St. Basil, we always sing the same arrangement of In thee rejoices, as we happen to love it and only get to sing it 10 times a year.

On the 12 Great Feasts of the Lord or of the Theotokos, and sometimes in the days following such a feast, we instead sing a pair of hymns collectively called the zadostoinik (in Slavonic) or anti tou Axion Estin (in Greek); both terms literally mean “instead of It is truly meet”. This pair of hymns consists of the magnification verse and 9th irmos of the Matins canon for the given feast.

On Pascha (which is not numbered among the 12 Great Feasts because it is the Feast of Feasts), we sing the beloved hymn The angel cried to the Lady full of grace instead of a traditional magnification verse, and immediately segue into the 9th irmos of the Paschal canon, Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem.

For next week: For roughly the past year, the choir has been singing “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ” immediately after Holy Communion, but I’ve never heard of this practice at any other parishes. Are you playing fast and loose with the rubrics up there?

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