Thursday, December 19, 2013

Church music to my ears...

I recently came across a dog-eared, mimeographed (yes, I said mimeographed!) copy of the "Troparion Kassianis," a hymn sung during Holy Week and my mom's favorite. Many notes have been darkened with a pen, and there are some handwritten directives.  Some might remember the Good Tuesday duo of Angeline Xanttopoulos and Dorothy (Trachiotis) Henning.  Mom was a stalwart of many services at St. Basil's, often playing the organ and singing at the same time. When she died, the monies contributed to the Memorial Fund in her name were used for an icon that graces the choir loft today.

Long ago, there were a few Friday nights during Holy Week when my mother and I were the only ones up in the choir loft on Stanislaus Street.  There were other special hymns, like "Soma Christou" (my personal favorite).  And for the Christmas season, the various "kalanda" with wishes for KALI HRONIA. Those tunes are indelible, and I continue to sing along from my pew whenever I attend services in Stockton or anywhere else -- much like you probably do.

The family tradition of singing during St. Basil's Church services goes back to my Yiayia Sarris, who, having not been allowed to join the convent in her village of Koroni, continued her religious ways in Stockton. She often filled the role of "psalty" (cantor) at St. Basil's in the early days...and later sang along from her pew.

Perhaps this is why I have been especially touched in recent times to hear Demetria Veziris chant during services. Her sweet renditions of prayers and hymns remind me of my Yiayia.  And there are not that many women cantors. So I am thankful each and every time I am able to hear her. But I can't be in Stockton often enough...anyone have a recording they can send me?

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