Seraphim Danckaert is Director of Mission Advancement at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds an M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Orthodox Christians aren’t known for liturgical innovation. Yet there continue to be new hymns written and new music composed.
Perhaps one of the most famous recent hymns comes from the pen of St. Nektarios of Aegina. “Agni Parthene,” or “O Pure Virgin,” is a hymn to the Theotokos. Chanted in many settings and translated into many languages, its poetic rhythm lends itself to easy performance and memorization. It’s the kind of hymn that gets stuck in your head.
Here are three of the most popular recordings on YouTube. In all three, the essence of the hymn remains, yet it is possible to find varied expression in different languages and styles.
Which is your favorite version and why?
1. The Monks of Simonopetra Monastery on Mt. Athos
This is probably the most classic presentation. In the original Greek and with the characteristic energy of Mt. Athos.
2. Valaam Brethren Choir
Chanted in Old Church Slavonic and in the unique and haunting style of Valaam, which so perfectly blends Byzantine and Slavic musical traditions.
3. Divna Ljubojević
Divna Ljubojević is a Serbian singer with a beautiful voice. This recording highlights the antiphonal nature of the hymn, with responses from a choir.
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.