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Syriac Chant Traditions - Text and Music : Two Different Approaches.

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AP 327D - Syriac Chant Traditions - Text and Music : Two Different Approaches.
Call Number

AP 327D

Part Number Part I - Syro Malabar Church
Title Syriac Chant Traditions - Text and Music : Two Different Approaches.
Duration 7m:19s
Place of Recording Denha Lecture at DVK Bangaluru
Date of Recording 2014
Youtube URL
Video Segment (s)


(Excerpts from the DENHA Lecture, DVK, Bangaluru (2014)

Let us begin with some good news. In 1957 the Holy See approved and promulgated the restored Syriac text of the Syro Malabar Qurbānā. The Syro Malabar Bishops’ Conference promulgated the Malayalam translation of this text on July 3, 1962. By that time, Syriac literacy had declined considerably among the laity. Interestingly, during the process of translating the Syriac liturgy into the vernacular, the translators showed greater concern in transferring the Syriac melodies (i. e., melodies that originated with the Syriac texts) as accurately as possible to the new medium than in transposing the original meaning of the song texts. The translators masterfully adjusted the Malayalam text to the melody of the Syriac text. Given below are examples from three chants, with the Syriac text and their Malayalam translations. The translations are by Fr. Abel Periyappuram, C. M. I. (1920-2001).

Example 1

Syriac text Malayalam text

Ṭū ̒̒yay badmūt heśōkâ Pulariyil nidrayuṇarnnange
Prīsâ ħwāt al beryātâ Pāwana sannidhiyaṇayunnu
Wadnaḥ nuhrē(h) damśīḥâ Kaṛthāwe nin karuṇakkāy
Waqnâ ̒almā būyānâ. Nandi paranju namikkunnu .

Example 2.

Syriac text Malayalam text

Ethpan al slōtha dawdayk pārōqan Narakula rakshakanām miśihā kaṛthāwe
W’qambel bāwūthan w’pannā śelāthan. Njangaḷaṇachiṭumī pṛāṛthana kēḷkkaṇame.

Example 3.

Syriac text Malayalam text

B’ēdâ dyāwmān negdōl klīlā Athimōhanamī thirunāḷ pṛabhayil
Dazmīrātâ̓ l̓īqār maryam Mudamōlunnu kanyā maṛiyam

In spite of the considerable disparity in the number of syllables in each verse in the Syriac and Malayalam versions, the melody is almost the same. The melodies that originated in the Semitic context of West Asia were “married” to texts that were born in the Dravidian-Sanskrit context in South India. In this process, Syriac melodies received greater prominence as identity markers, in comparison with the perceived sacredness of the Syriac language, as well as the thematic contents of the texts. Moreover, the decision to retain the Syriac melodies was beneficial to the religious music repertory of India. If the Syro Malabar Church had not taken that path, those melodies would have suffered the same fate of the so-called Gregorian Chant in the Roman Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council.

Keywords : #aramaicproject #josephpalackal #syromalabarchurch #christianityinindia #indianchurch #abelperiyappuram #DVKBangaluru

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