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date: 16 October 2019

Liturgy and Music at Hagia Sophia

Summary and Keywords

Hagia Sophia, the former Orthodox Christian cathedral of Constantinople, is the single most important monument that survives from Byzantium. Its daring architecture of cascading dome and semi-domes reflects a unique vision of beauty and power introduced by the emperor Justinian (527–565). Equally impressive is the interior decoration of gold mosaics and marble. Yet, it is the liturgy with its large congregation, officiating clergy, and numerous choirs that brought about the effect of being transported to a place in between heaven and earth. Within its walls, a rich multisensory experience was created through the integration of architecture, music, acoustics, and liturgy. The material fabric of the building and its acoustics together with the liturgy performed by Hagia Sophia’s officiating clergy and the chants sung by the choirs formed the character of the cathedral rite. The architectural form and ritual performed in this space harmonized with the Byzantine philosophical and mystagogical explanations and enabled the religious experience of nearness to the divine.

Keywords: Liturgy of the Hours, Divine Liturgy, Eucharist, Cheroubikon, melismatic chant, intercalations, reverberation, acoustics, auralization, mirror/esoptron

Constantine the Great laid the foundations of Hagia Sophia, the church dedicated to Holy Wisdom, and his son Constantius II inaugurated the basilica in 360 ce. The church, destroyed by a fire in 404, was subsequently rebuilt and re-inaugurated by Theodosius II in 415. Yet, this second basilica perished in the fires of the Nika revolt in 532. The emperor Justinian (527–565) seized the chance to build a new; the ensuing construction (532–537) was swift and daring, producing the amazing domed building we encounter today. Two scholar-engineers, Isidore of Miletus and Artemius of Thralles, were brought in to develop an unprecedented design. They raised a masonry dome on a rectangular nave. The enormous cupola supported on four piers and propped with cascading semi-domes on the east and west created the largest domed interior in the Mediterranean. Destabilized by an earthquake, this original flat dome collapsed in 558 and was rebuilt with a steeper apex in 562.

This architectural vision expressed through the massing of dome and semi-domes maintains a geometric simplicity and visual unity, at the same time that it results in a spacious interior. Excluding the narthexes and the projecting apse, the footprint of Hagia Sophia forms a rectangle 73 meters (240 feet) in width and 78 meters (256 feet) in length. If we include the narthexes on the west and the projecting apse on the east, the overall length increases to 102 meters (335 feet). The space under the dome forms a square with a side of 31 meters (102 feet) defined by the four piers. The dome rises 56.60 meters (186 feet) above the floor and has a maximum diameter of 31.87 meters (105 feet). The height of this space thus exceeds by far the tallest of medieval cathedrals of western Europe. The vast interior volume of the nave is 255,800 cubic meters (2,753,408 cubic feet) and it can house roughly 16,000 people.1

Lavish expanses of marble, gold, and glass cladding the walls and floor enhance the engineering virtuosity of the architecture. The impressive variety of materials and design solidified Justinian’s claims for political power and control of resources and people. The grandeur expands further when we add to it the impressive staff of five hundred who manned the liturgy as officiating clergy, choirs, and door-keepers. The elite singers known as psaltai comprised a group of twenty-five. Together with an additional choir known as anagnostes, whose number swelled to 160 by the year 612, they formed a choir of unprecedented size.2 Led by the soloist or domestikos, the psaltai stood at the base of the ambo, a marble platform raised on columns and approached through two staircases on the east and west. At certain periods the majority of the psaltai and the domestikoi were eunuchs.3 The ambo, which was their station in the Great Church, was anchored on the floor under the eastern rim of the great dome; it appeared like an island in the sea of people. Standing at the top of the ambo, the patriarch extended blessings, while the deacon read from the Scriptures. The domestikos frequently ascended the stairs to sing solo parts from the steps of the ambo’s western approach.

The chanted words were experienced in surroundings dominated by a non-figural program. The Justinianic mosaics employ just vegetal and geometric designs, whose strict geometries contrast with the naturalistic vine rinceaux of the carved marble cornice. There are only two exceptions to the Justinianic non-figural program: the smaller format images of Christ, the Virgin, and saints in the silver revetment of the templon barrier and on the gold-woven silk of the altar cloth; both of which no longer survive but were mentioned in the 6th-century ekphrasis of Paul the Silentiary. Yet, these small images were practically invisible from a distance in this enormous interior. The Justinianic monumental non-figural program would have drawn instead the eyes of the faithful to the mirroring structures of the book-matched marble revetments and gold mosaic. This would have created an aesthetic experience that contrasted with the extensive narrative cycles in Rome as for instance in the naves of the Old St. Peter’s, the Lateran, and St. Paul outside the Walls. Hagia Sophia’s aniconic program thus created the conditions to seek the divine beyond the realm of mimetic representation. In a space dominated by aniconic program the phenomena of light and sound would have played a significant role in performing the metaphysical.

The Justinianic aniconic visual field gradually started to change in the period after Iconoclasm (a movement that challenged the legitimacy of images in Byzantium in the period 730–843). A mosaic representation of an enthroned Virgin holding the Christ Child on her lap was placed in the apse in 867.4 The composition was expanded with two angels holding scepters and globes in the bema vault. Slightly later, the standing figures of the church fathers were introduced in the north and south tympana of the nave. An enthroned Christ was placed above the axial door of the narthex leading to the nave. A second enthroned Virgin and Child, copying the apse mosaic, was shown together with the emperors Constantine and Justinian in the tympanum of the southern vestibule. Further imperial portraits in the south gallery honored major imperial donations to the church in the mid-11th and 12th centuries.5 Characteristic for all these mosaics in the nave is their hieratic, non-narrative character, and the care with which the imperial figures are placed in positions of veneration and gift-giving toward the Mother of God and Christ. The galleries, however, had a few narrative scenes of the Baptism, Pentecost, and Isaiah’s vision that no longer exist.6

While the mosaics in the narthex are closer to the viewer and thus have a more immediate effect in mediating the sacred, the images in the nave and especially in the apse appear so small and distant from the viewer that they fail to exercise control over the visual field. This circumscribed platform on which the iconic program operates in the interior of the Great Church after Iconoclasm thus continues to sustain elements of the Justinianic model, where the encounter with the holy expands beyond narrative and human form in order to bring into prominence and consciousness non-figural phenomena such as glitter, the fragrance and smoke of incense, and reverberant sound. These ephemeral phenomena played an important role in conveying the animation of the inert. Sunlight, for instance, transforms the appearance of marble from stone to rivers of gold at certain times of the day, especially at sunrise and sunset, thus performing a form of incarnation, through which the metaphysical can enter the sensorial. A short video captures a modern poetic response to these fleeting effects of shadow, glitter, and reverberation.

Video 1. Aesthetics and Acoustics of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. © Bissera V. Pentcheva. This film was made with the kind permission of the AyaSofya Müzesi.

Chant and Acoustics in Hagia Sophia

Targeting these phenomena of sensual saturation, the liturgy of the Great Church explored venues where the aural and visual could be pushed beyond the limits of language and interpretation. For instance, the music composed and performed by the elite choir was in large part melismatic; this term identifies the manner of singing where each syllable can be stretched over several notes. The Constantinopolitan melismatic chant was further enhanced by the reverberant acoustics of Hagia Sophia. While the intelligibility of the chanted words was compromised by this process, the sound heard in this space was enchanting with its enveloping, resonant, and non-intimate character.

Singing performed under Hagia Sophia’s great dome gives rise to harmonies in the high frequency ranges over one thousand Hertz (1 kHz). The cupola reflects and scatters these high frequency soundwaves, creating the effect of a sonic waterfall.7 Since light is also reflected in the dome, the result is a synesthetic sonic and visual brightness.

Yet, can modern audiences experience the aural dimension of this brightness and resonance? The Great Church lost its voice first in 1453 when, following the Ottoman conquest, it became a mosque. The entire infrastructure was annihilated: the large state-sponsored choirs and the composition and performance of melismatic music. Not surprising, the tradition ended abruptly and was never resurrected. Yet, as an Ottoman mosque, Hagia Sophia continued to be used an instrument of the human voice during the daily recitations of the Qurʾan.8 The building was silenced for a second time when in 1934 it was turned into a museum. Today any performance of speech or chant in its interior is forbidden. Modern technology, however, has recently recuperated aspects of Hagia Sophia’s acoustics by utilizing auralizations; this term designates a digital process through which the measured aural response of a particular space—Hagia Sophia in this case—is imprinted on a recorded or live performance that contains minimal other room acoustics. The resulting auralization thus exhibits the acoustics of the targeted space and allows audiences to hear the sound as if performed in Hagia Sophia.9

Turning back to the cathedral rite and its melismatic chant, this analysis presents some of the challenges in reconstructing this music. Only a limited repertoire of chants written in “Middle-Byzantine” or “Round” (1100–1450) diastematic notation has been recovered and it is only this neumatic notation that can be confidently rendered in modern staff notation.10 The majority of the musical manuscripts transmitting the melodies of the cathedral rite originate from the monasteries of southern Italy. These Stoudite foundations performed a mixed rite, which drew on the Constantinopolitan cathedral rite only on major feast days. And this fact alone has allowed musicologists to extrapolate from the southern Italian record elements of the musical design of chants performed in Hagia Sophia. The manuscripts transmitting this music are known as Psaltikon (pl. pslatika) or kondakarion (pl. kondakaria), recording the soloist’s chants, and Asmatikon (pl. asmatika), presenting the choral chants.11 The record can be expanded further with the information preserved in Slavonic manuscripts that also carry traces of the Constantinopolitan rite.12 Yet even these manuscripts with Middle Byzantine neumatic notation present further challenges to the reconstruction of the cathedral chant. While intervallic information can be accessed, rhythm, chromatism, and ornamentation are not recorded well in the written record.13 Our knowledge of the cathedral chant is further hindered by the tendency of musicologists to prioritize the study of the monastic, syllabic chant over the melismatic one of the elite choir of the Great Church.14

The Cathedral Liturgy

The cathedral rite of Constantinople was stational. In its early centuries it shared the character of other Late Antique liturgies, which consisted of processions that celebrated stages (stations) at different churches along the ritual itinerary.15 A markedly imperial character consolidated especially with the construction of the Justinianic domed cathedral. By the mid-10th century this ritual had developed its complete liturgical system.16 The rite comprised: (a) the Divine Liturgy or Eucharist; (b) the mysteries (sacraments) of baptism, chrismation, marriage, unction, penance, and ordination; (c) the Liturgy of the Hours or ekkēsiastēs but more commonly known in scholarship today as the asmatikē akolouthia;17 (d) the liturgical year with its calendar of fixed and moveable feasts; and (e) a variety of lesser services or akolouthiai of church consecration, blessings, exorcism, and monastic investiture.

The cathedral rite experienced two periods of synthesis where it integrated elements from the monastic rites. The first synthesis employed aspects of the liturgy of the Stoudios monastery, introduced in the 9th century in the capital, and lasted up to 1204. The second synthesis unfolded after the interruption due to the Latin occupation of Constantinople (1204–1261); at that point the cathedral rite, re-instituted in Hagia Sophia, fused elements from the Neo-Sabaitic rite that had developed in both Constantinopolitan and Mount Athos monasteries in the 11th century. A late and final form of this elaborate cathedral synthesis was also performed in Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki until 1430 and recorded textually thanks to the efforts of its bishop, Symeon of Thessaloniki (1416/17–1429).18

The Liturgy of the Hours and the Divine Liturgy form the focus of this essay as these two services took place in the interior of Hagia Sophia for the most part and responded to the architectural space and its acoustics. The Justinianic Hagia Sophia offered a very reverberant interior more suited for monodic chant than speech. It is plausible that this resonant aurality gave rise both to the development of Constantinople’s sung sermon, or kontakion, as well as to the composition of melismatic music.

Liturgy of the Hours

The daily liturgy celebrated two principal services: orthros (matins) and lychnikos (vespers).19 The core of this rite was formed by the syllabic singing of psalmody, known as asmatikē akolouthia, distributed between the choirs chanting the verses and the congregation intoning the refrains. The resulting service is all-inclusive, allowing everyone to be a performer. Orally transmitted, this simple psalmody suddenly appears in musically notated late-13th-century manuscripts.20 This practice reaches back to the 4th-century psalmody in Jerusalem and Antioch. Yet, what distinguishes the Constantinopolitan asmatikē akolouthia from these other centers is the way the psalms are grouped in larger units, called antiphons, and the specific refrains chosen for the units. This division forms the so-called “distributed” psalter of the Constantinopolitan cathedral use.21 Middle-Byzantine sources attribute this development to Patriarch Anthimus I (535–536).22

Constantinople’s “distributed” psalter has sixty-eight to seventy-four antiphons depending on the particular manuscript transmitting this information. The larger number includes the fixed psalms forming the antiphons always performed at lychnikos and orthros: Psalm 85, Psalm 140, Psalms 3–62–133, Psalm 118, Psalm 50, Psalms 148–149–150. It took approximately a week for the “distributed psalter” to be sung in its entirety. Fourteen to fifteen antiphons for a total of twenty-five psalms were performed daily. Keeping this number of units constant per day, more antiphons were sung in the morning liturgy during the winter, while this ratio was reversed in the summer when the vespers office increased in duration.23 The rotation began with Saturday vespers, skipping Sunday being the day of the Eucharist liturgy. The singing of the “distributed psalter” resumed on Monday at orthros with all antiphons completed by Friday vespers. Orthros on Saturday was dedicated to the singing of the odes.24 The music is transmitted in two late Byzantine manuscripts connected to Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki.25

Turning to two fixed psalms of the asmatikē akolouthia—Psalm 140 (141) for vespers and Psalm 62 (63) for orthros—this analysis presents how this poetry responds to the ritual and the time of the day.26 For instance, Psalm 62 (63), performed in the narthex of Hagia Sophia at sunrise ties the early morning watch with the sensation of refreshing water, which is projected as a sensual manifestation of divine nearness: “O God, my God, I cry to thee early; my soul has thirsted for thee: how often has my flesh longed for thee, in a barren and trackless and dry land! [. . .] For as much as I have remembered thee on my bed; in the early hours I have mediated on thee. For thou has been my helper and in the shelter of thy wings I will rejoice.” Psalm 62 (63) makes a clear link between orthros and the activities of rising from bed and the quenching of thirst. Water and being lifted as if by wings, mentioned in the poetry, shape the morning prayer to God.

The petitions at orthros recorded in the earliest extant Constantinopolitan prayerbook or Euchologion (Vat. BAV, MS Gr. Barb. 336, mid-8th century) further connect the poetry of the fixed Psalm 62 (63) for this hour to the time and expectations of the day: “Our soul rises up from the night towards you, O Lord, since You are the light, give us Your protection, [. . .] so that we never fall asleep in death on account of errors, [. . .] grant us the sun of your justice, [. . .] allow us to see the sunrise and the day in gladness.”27 The words beseech the divinity to bestow light and joy at the break of a new day and protect the faithful from errors.

We can trace a similar close linkage between the semantics of the poetry and the ritual in the singing of the fixed Psalm 140 (141). Chanted at sunset at the moment of entry from narthex to nave, it functions as a processional psalm and carries the vestige of the Late Antique lucernarium (lamplighting) ritual. It was introduced in Constantinople’s vespers from the cathedral liturgy of Antioch in the 4th century.28 The clergy carried incense burners and led the congregation into the nave. The fragrance of the burning incense and the smoke rising upward produced the very phenomena elicited by the poetry: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; the lifting up of my hands [as] an evening sacrifice” (Ps. 140 (141): 2). The same phrase is repeated in the patriarchal prayer after Psalm 140 and at the dismissal of vespers.29

Melismatic Chant

While the singing of the psalmody was mostly syllabic, melismatic music characterized the celebration of major feasts in Hagia Sophia. The domestikos and the elite choir of the psaltai performed these chants. The repertoire included among others the prokeimena (graduals sung before the reading of the epistle), koinōnika (communion chants) allēlouïaria (sung before the reading of the gospels and also on feastdays), hypakoai (monostrophic hymns performed after the psalmody at orthros on Sunday and at great feasts) and kontakia (sung homilies).30

The asmatic Kneeling Vespers (gonyklesia) of Pentecost is an example of this musically complex performance.31 It is transmitted in diastematic notation in a South Italian manuscript, Florence, Laurenziana MS Gr. Ashburnhamensis 64, fols. 258–264v, dated to 1289.32 Cappella Romana had recently recorded this piece.33 The last antiphon of this asmatic Kneeling Vespers is known as teleutaion;34 here the term antiphon designates an elaborate performance of a single psalm, introduced with a prayer and completed with a doxology.35 The rubric at the beginning of the teleutaion specifies that the soloist or domestikos ascends the ambo, and this instruction ultimately harkens back to the Constantinopolitan practice of the cathedral rite in Hagia Sophia.36 The singing then unfolds in a responsorial fashion between the soloist and the elite choir known as psaltai. The heightened solemnity of the feast of Pentecost is expressed in the extreme technical sophistication of the vocal tradition recorded in the teleutaion setting. The singing includes Allēlouïa refrains performed according to three variants, referred to by Alexander Lingas as B, C, D:37

Variant B

Ἀ-χαουαχαουα-λλε-χεουεγγεενανενενεε-λου-νου-ϊα-γγα‎ (Choir)

Variant C

Ἀλλε-νανενεουενενανε-λού-νου-ϊα‎ (Choir)

Variant D

Ἀ-να-λλε-χεουεενεχενεουεχεουε-λού-νου-ϊ-νι-α‎ (Choir).

All three examples use intercalations. This term refers to the inclusion of non-semantic sounds in-between the syllables of the word, stretching the semantic chain. In this analysis the original syllables are marked in bold, while the intercalated letters are left in a normal font. This process of intercalations reaches an extreme with variant D; here the contiguity between “” and “ouia” dissolves under the pressure of the elaborate pattern of he-ou-e-e-ne-he-ne-ou-e-he-ou-e. This extensive intercalation in Variant D (le he ou e e ne he ne ou e he ou e lou) exhibits a structure with two peaks reached at the second he and lou; here the florid melismatic activity spans from G to f (a seventh). Flanking these peaks is an opening melody (a a na a le he ou e) and a condensed variant of the same in the end of nou ou i, but transposed by a third. By contrast, the number of intercalations drops dramatically in the ending phrase nou ou i as the passage travels from a to d (a fourth).38

Variant D shows how the intercalations help push the range upward, and thereby articulate an ascent. The intercalated syllables disintegrate the linear composition of meaning and produce a sound that pushes beyond the register of human speech and semantics. The melismatic performance of variant D takes Cappella Romana over two minutes to sing, exemplifying how the temporal aspect of melismatic singing further enhances this process of dissolution of meaning. The ascending tendency emerges also at the beginning of the antiphon when the three Allēlouïai are performed consecutively (BCD); they form an ascent in vocal register to a cadence a sixth above the starting pitch.39

Ascent and disintegration of semantics are two aspects further enhanced by the resonant acoustics of the Great Church. Hagia Sophia’s interior produces an extremely long reverberation time (upward of ten seconds).40 This long reverberation time enhances further the blurring effect produced by the intercalations sung in melismatic style. The dome and semi-domes enrich the brightness of this aural experience as the high-frequency harmonies concentrate in the upper reaches of the architectural space. Divine presence thus becomes sonically inscribed in the physical fabric of the building, and made acoustically accessible to the faithful.

This anagogical and non-figural dimension emerges also in the way Byzantine exegetical texts interpret the liturgy. Maximus the Confessor (580–662 ce) speaks of human ascent to the divine as the desired goal of the Eucharist liturgy: “[a]nd he [God] will assimilate humanity to himself and elevate us to a position above all the heavens. It is to this exalted position that the natural magnitude of God’s grace summons lowly humanity, out of a goodness that is infinite.”41 We find another echo of the ascent to the divine in the response of the ambassadors of Kiev Rus, who witnessed the Divine Liturgy of Hagia Sophia in 987. For them the ritual performed in the Great Church brought about an experience of being in a zone in-between heaven and earth: “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men.42

The Divine Liturgy and the Dynamic of Mirroring Structures

The ephemeral experience of dwelling in the zone of in-between celestial and terrestrial was further fostered by series of visual and aural phenomena of mirroring. Optically, they emerge in the book-matched marble plaques and the reflected light from the gold mosaics.43 Sonically, they are reified in the reverberant acoustics of the resonant interior, in the chiastic form of the psalms intoned during services, and in the reflexivity of the iterative root marmar- in the Greek words for marble (marmaron) and glitter (marmarygma).44

The Cheroubikon hymn, sung during the Great Entrance with the Gifts in Hagia Sophia, offers an entry into the figural dynamics of the horizontal mirror.45 The text draws attention to the mirroring process:

We who mystically represent (eikonizontes) the cheroubim and sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-giving Trinity, let us lay aside all worldly care [Luke 21:34] to receive the King of All escorted unseen by the angelic corps. Allēlouïa, allēlouïa, allēlouïa.46

The first verse establishes the matrix of terrestrial-celestial mirroring; the priestly procession reflects the angelic. This spatial icon is designated with the verb “to icon” (eikonizō) as an enactment through which the invisible enters the shape of the visible and the material, thereby creating a proleptic parallel to the Incarnation that will take place at the altar.

The text of Cheroubikon hymn further charts two parallel actions of mirroring: a visual and an aural one: a synaesthesis sustained by the two present participles of “representing”(eikonizontes) and “singing” (prosadontes). The ecclesiastical procession constitutes the visual, while the act of singing creates the acoustic mirroring reproducing in human speech the ineffable sounds of the angelic choir. Since the angels themselves have no material bodies—they are energy that can only be made humanly perceptible in the material imprint they leave in matter—they reify in the voices of the performing clergy and choirs.47 In singing this Trisagion-imbued form, the human performers leave an aural trace of the celestial through the sonic imprint of their chant in space.

The “thrice-holy hymn” mentioned in the text of the Cheroubikon is a reference to the Trisagion hymn, which constitutes the sonic record of Isaiah’s vision of the Lord surrounded by the angelic host (Isa. 6). In his analysis of recorded 14th and 15th compositions of the Trisagion, Dimitri Conomos has indicated how the musical design of the Cheroubikon in general shares modal conformity with most of the Trisagion settings, which are in E and G.48 Laura Steenberge’s closer analysis of the seventeen melodies of the Cheroubikon published by Conomos has uncovered musical quotations of motivic fragments of the Trisagion in the Cheroubikon.49 The musical design of the Trisagion comprises the following three pieces: an “Amen” melody followed by A, A, and B melodies. The “Amen” melody only has pitches G a b. The A melody expands the range to F G a b. The B melody expands further to E F G a b.50 In one of the oldest settings, number seven in Conomos, attributed to John of Damascus, the melody to which the word eikonizontes is set has the motivic contour (G a b a G E F G a F G a b a G F G G a G G) of both the Amen melody (G a b a G) and melody B (E F G a G) of the Trisagion.51 In general the G-centered fragments of the Cheroubikon tend to evoke the “Amen,” A, and B melodies of the Trisagion, without reproducing their exact sequential orders.

The same mirroring process, instilled in the Cheroubikon, is recognized in the exegesis of the Constantinopolitan liturgy written by patriarch Germanus in the early 8th century. His Ekklēsiastikē Historia describes how the procession of “the rhipidia and deacons appear in the guise of the six-winged seraphim and the many-eyed cheroubim, for in this way earthly things imitate the heavenly.”52 The Great Entrance cortege thus harmonizes human action, transforming matter into a mirroring surface that can reflect the celestial liturgy.

The patriarch evokes the same horizontal mirror when he prays before the Great Entrance to the Lord to unlock its dynamic. His words shape the reception of the rite:

Master and Lord our God who has set down the regiments and armies of the angels and archangels in heavens for the [performance] of the liturgy in Your honor, make so that with our entry the angels make an entry too, co-celebrating with us and co-praising with us your goodness.53

The prayer beseeches God to intervene, to manifest his energies through the angelic hosts, so that they enter together with the human procession and become co-celebrants in the rite. The plea is to gather mortal and angelic voices, so that the Divine would become aurally reflected in the material mirror on earth. The faithful have gathered enōpion (from en-, “in front of,” and ōps “face”) before the face of God, while God looks down on them katōpion (from kata-,“down” and ōps, “face”).54 The two sides are set in mirroring reciprocity. The fact that the bishop’s prayer evokes this mirroring dynamic reveals a process through which the spoken words shape human consciousness to discern the horizontal-mirror or esoptron, through which nearness to the Divine is achieved.

This performative dimension of the liturgical word is further strengthened by the hermeneutics of Byzantine theology and mystagogy. Pseudo-Dionysios in his Celestial Hierarchy writes about the reflexivity of human and angelic chant: “Hence theology has transmitted to the men of earth those hymns sung by the first rank of angels, whose gloriously transcendent bright sound is thereby made manifest.”55 The song produced by humans is here defined as a mirror reflecting the angelic voices. And through these specular operations, the celestial reifies in the sonic reflections of the human singing exhaled in Hagia Sophia’s resonant chamber.

The same text confirms the importance of the mirroring dynamic in creating and sustaining the cosmic order:

A hierarchy bears in itself the mark of God. Hierarchy causes its members to be images of God in all respects, to be clear and spotless mirrors reflecting the glow of primordial light and indeed of God himself. It ensures that when its members have received this full and divine splendor, they can then pass on this light generously and in accordance with God’s will to beings further down the scale.56

God, as the uncreated light, strikes the reflecting mirrors of his angelic hierarchies surrounding his throne. The closer their rings are to the center, the more radiant their reflection. Pseudo-Dionysius further writes about the synaesthesis of light and music, which he structures as a mirror of the celestial in the terrestrial:

This, so far as I know, is the first rank of heavenly beings, positioned in the circle around God (Isa. 6:2, Rev. 4:4) in immediate proximity to Him. Simply and ceaselessly, it dances around an eternal knowledge of Him according to its [the angels’] highest rank as the angelic nature [is] ever-moving. It [this highest rank of angels] has purely seen numerous blessed visions, has been enlightened in a simple and immediate quivering shimmer, and has been filled with much divine nourishment through one initial stream . . . Hence theology has transmitted to the men of earth those hymns sung by the first rank of angels, whose gloriously transcendent enlightenment/clear sound is thereby made manifest. Some of these hymns, if one can use perceptible things, are like the sound of many waters (Ezek. 1:24, Rev. 14:2, 19:6) as they proclaim: “Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place” (Ezek. 3:12).57

The highest ranks of angels move in around the divinity in the center. They form a luminous circle that reflects light as it expands its circumference. The visual aspect of this action is enriched by the aural element as the angelic choirs sing and their music reminiscent of the sound of many waters is reflected in the chant performed by the terrestrial choirs. Hagia Sophia gave a material form to this grand vision; its luminous golden dome, reverberant acoustics, and elite choirs of psaltai and anagnostes had the physical capacity to reproduce on earth an enveloping and non-intimate sound, reminiscent of the angelic voices of “many waters.”

Similarly, the cortege of priests at the Great Entrance acted out in the visual the celestial procession, while the chanted Cheroubikon reproduced the melodic mirroring of fragments of the angelic Trisagion. The esoptron-dynamic emerging in the liturgy with its visual and aural dimensions, is further confirmed in Paul the Silentiary’s Ekphrasis of the Great Church, recited before the imperial and patriarchal courts in late 562 or early 563.58 He introduces the horizontal mirror in his Homeric poetry exactly at the point of entry from the exterior into the nave of Hagia Sophia:59

But when Dawn of the rosy fingers drawing back the veil of shadows walks upon the celestial arch, then the congregation gathers, all the leaders of the thrones [i.e., the priests who sit at the synthronon of the apse], subjects of the orders of a powerful emperor, they offer to Christ the ruler their deeds of grace singing out loud god-fearing hymns with beseeching lips and holding a resplendent burning candle in their untiring hands. Conducting the sacred choir, the intercessor [patriarch] escorts them. This is the much-hymned patriarch, whom the scepter-bearer of the Ausonians found worthy of the temple. In the whole of Rome [i.e., Constantinople] even the well-proportioned in width street was becoming narrow, heading towards the divine temple, and giving thanks, the entire congregation of people imagines to have set their steps on the arches of the immaculate heavens.60

The sky’s dawn chases night’s shadows and ushers in the new day, while on earth the gates of the church open for the patriarch, who leads the congregation inside. If, at the beginning of this passage, Aurora walks on the arches of heaven, at the end, it is the congregation that imagines planting their steps on the celestial arc. Heaven has reified on the reflective surface of Hagia Sophia’s marble floor. The figural dynamics of the esoptron make the congregation accept the phantasmal for the real, indicated by the verb dokeō: “to seem,” “to appear.” The poetry colors the entry into the temple as though the faithful step into an oneiric space of in-between (metaxu), embodying the blithe gait of the Homeric rosy-fingered Dawn. Hagia Sophia’s visual and acoustic phenomena of mirroring activated by the liturgy created the conditions for such an experience of ascent and dwelling albeit ephemerally in the zone of the metaxu.


As this article address the three spheres of architecture, liturgy, and music, all three follow different developments in modern scholarship. The early studies of the architecture exemplify a Romanticist approach, which evolved into more integrated archaeological and textual studies of the building.61 Thomas Matthews used the stational character of the Constantinopolitan liturgy to explain the design of the pre-Justinianic churches with their numerous entries and basilica form.62 More recent work has focused on the engineering and architectural design of the Justinianic Hagia Sophia.63 This approach has been expanded into questions of aesthetics and spiritual operations of sacred space.64

The modern study of the Constantinopolitan liturgy practiced in the Pontifical Institute in Rome has exemplified Baumstark’s comparative approach.65 Juan Mateos, Miguel Arranz, and Robert Taft are some of the major founder figures.66 Their studies have created an important platform for the study of musicology.

In terms of music the early-20th-century debates that ensued from the challenges of transcribing Byzantine neumes into staff notation led to the formation of two opposing camps: the Greek one, exemplified by work of Constantine Paschos, Thrasybulos Georgiades, and Simon Karas, and the Western one, presented by Carsten Høeg, H. J. W. Tillyard, and Egon Wellesz, who founded the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae (MMB) in Copenhagen in 1931.67 The Greek direction argued for the transcriptions of medieval musical notation by following the received tradition of Byzantine chanting transmitted in 18th- and 19th-century singing practices. MMB, by contrast, proposed a more philological approach, ignoring current performance practices. Responsible for the majority of available Byzantine music transcribed in modern staff notation, MMB acknowledged only a fraction of the qualitative signs found in Byzantine sources. As a result, it consistently favored a philologically conservative and musically agnostic approach that failed to account well for the tunings of modes, ornamentation, chromatic alterations, and rhythmic subdivisions.68 Partially because of this philological approach severed from performance practices, MMB fostered the study of syllabic chant (stichera and heirmoi of the new hymnody introduced by the Sabaitic reforms in the Stoudios monastery)69 that exemplify the monastic practices, ignoring for the most part the melismatic chant of the ekkēsiastēs (Asmatika/Kondakaria, Psaltika, Akolouthiai, as well as the kalophonic versions of the Stichera).70 This privileging of the monastic Sticheraion and Heirmologion in the modern musicology of Byzantine chant has made access to the cathedral music challenging. Further difficulties arise from the fact that even a smaller number of these melismatic pieces have been performed and recorded today.71

Primary Sources

Brightman published the Greek texts of the Divine liturgy.72 This 10th-century system is recorded in the 11th-century manuscript Jerusalem, Hagios Stavros, MS Gr. 40 and is known as the Typikon of the Great Church; it transmits the cathedral liturgy including the moveable Lent and Paschal seasons and the menaion.73 The prayer books or Euchologia (earliest example Vatican City, BAV, MS Gr. 336) give the patriarchal and diaconal prayers for the celebration of the mysteries such as church consecration, baptism, ordination of clergy, monks, and nuns.74 Further information is preserved in the Middle Byzantine lectionaries, which arrange fragments/lections of the gospels first according to the moveable cycle of Easter and Pentecost, and then offer the fixed feasts of the menaion. Prominent examples of lectionaries transmitting the cathedral liturgy include New York City, Morgan Library, MS Gr. 639 and the Metropolitan Museum, Jaharis Lectionary.75 The so-called “marginal psalters” of the mid-9th century offer an extensive visual program that illustrates verses of the psalms performed in the liturgy as koinōnika, prokeimena and allēlouïa.76

Yet, when the attention turns to the music and more specifically the melismatic chants, very few manuscripts of the ones that transmit the choral and soloist chants (Asmatika and Psaltika) have been edited and made accessible to scholars.77 Musically noted manuscripts of the Liturgy of the Hours survive in South Italian editions and Byzantine 14th and 15th-century akolouthiai.78

In terms of the architectural fabric of the building, several ekphraseis survive, the most prominent are the ones written by Procopius and Paul the Silentiary.79 A kontakion, or religious sermon, was composed for the re-consecration ceremony (enkainia) of Hagia Sophia in 562/563.80 A series of exegetical texts interpret the liturgy, known as mystagogical treatises.81

Further Reading

Abel, J., W. Woszczyk, D. Ko, S. Levine, J. Hong, T. Skare, M. Wilson, S. Coffin, and F. Lopez-Lezcano. “Recreation of the Acoustics of Hagia Sophia in Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall for the Concert Performance and Recording of Cappella Romana.” Presented at the International Symposium on Room Acoustics, Toronto, Canada, 9-11 June 2013.Find this resource:

Baldovin, J. The Urban Character of Christian Worship. The Origins, Development and Meaning of Stational Liturgy. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 228. Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1987.Find this resource:

Barry, F. “Walking on Water: Cosmic Floors in Antiquity and the Middle Ages.” Art Bulletin 89.4 (2007): 627–656.Find this resource:

Blesser, B., and L.-R. Salter. Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Conomos, D. Byzantine Trisagia and Cheroubika of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. A Study of the Late Byzantine Liturgical Chant. Thessaloniki: Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, 1974.Find this resource:

Conomos, D. The Late Byzantine and Slavonic Communion Cycle: Liturgy and Music. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1985.Find this resource:

Isar, N. Chorós: The Dance of Adam; The Making of Byzantine Chorography, the Anthropology of the Choir of Dance in Byzantium. Leiden, The Netherlands: Alexandros, 2011.Find this resource:

Kiilerich, B., “The Aesthetic Viewing of Marble in Byzantium: From Global Impression to Focal Attention.” Arte Medievale, ser. 4, 2 (2012): 9–28.Find this resource:

Lingas, A. “From Earth to Heaven: The Changing Musical Soundscape of Byzantine Liturgy.” In Experiencing Byzantium, edited by Claire Nesbitt and Mark Jackson, 311–358. Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2013.Find this resource:

Mainstone, R. Hagia Sophia. London: Thames and Hudson, 1985.Find this resource:

Mark, R., and A. Çakmak, eds. Hagia Sophia from the Age of Justinian to the Present. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Moran, N. “The Choir of the Hagia Sophia.” Oriens Christianus 89 (2005): 1–7.Find this resource:

Nelson, R. Hagia Sophia, 1850–1950: Holy Wisdom Modern Monument. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.Find this resource:

van Nice, R., Saint Sophia in Istanbul: An Architectural Survey. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, 1965.Find this resource:

Ousterhout, R. “Holy Space: Architecture and the Liturgy.” In Heaven on Earth: Art and the Church in Byzantium, edited by L. Safran, 81–120. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Ousterhout, R. “The Sanctity of Place vs. the Sanctity of Building: Jerusalem vs. Constantinople.” In The Architecture of Sacred: Space, Ritual, and Experience, edited by B. Wescoat and R. Ousterhout, 281–306. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Parenti, S. “The Cathedral Rite of Constantinople: Evolution of a Local Tradition.” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 77 (2011): 449–469.Find this resource:

Pentcheva, B. “Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics,” Gesta 50.2 (2011): 93–111.Find this resource:

Pentcheva, B. “Mirror, Inspiration, and the Making of Art in Byzantium.” Convivium 1.2 (2014): 10–39.Find this resource:

Pentcheva. “Performing the Sacred in Byzantium: Image, Breath, and Sound.” Performance Research International 19.3 (2014): 120–128.Find this resource:

Ray, W. Tasting Heaven on Earth. Worship in Sixth-Century Constantinople. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012.Find this resource:

Schibille, N. Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience. Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2014.Find this resource:

Schneider, W., “‘Abtun der Sorge und Tanz.’ Der ‘Grosse Einzug’ und die Kuppel der Hagia Sophia Justinians.” In Architektur und Liturgie. Akten des Kolloquiums vom 25. bis 27. Juli 2003 Greifswald, edited by Michael Altripp and Claudia Nauerth, 143–161. Spätantike-Frühes Christentum-Byzanz. Kunst im ersten Jahrtausend 21. Wiesbaden, Germany: Reichert, 2006.Find this resource:

Schneider, W., and R. Stichel. “Der ‘Cherubische Einzug’ in der Hagia Sophia Justinians. Aufführung und Ereignis.” In Performativität und Ereignis, edited by Erika Fischer-Lichte et al., 377–394. Tübingen, Germany, and Basel, Switzerland: A. Francke, 2003.Find this resource:

Schulz, H.-J. Die byzantinische Liturgie: Glaubenszeugnis und Symbolgestalt. Trier, Germany: Paulinus, 1980.Find this resource:

Stichel, R., and H. Svenshon. Einblicke in den virtuellen Himmel. Neue und alte Bilder vom Inneren der Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Tübingen and Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth, 2008.Find this resource:

Taft, R., The Great Entrance: A History of the Transfer of Gifts and Other Pre-anaphoral Rites. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 200. Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1978.Find this resource:

Taft, The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1986.Find this resource:

Troelsgaard, C. Byzantine Neumes. Copenhagen: Museum Tuscilanum Press, 2011.Find this resource:


(1.) C. Weitze, J. Rindel, C. Claus, and A. Gade, “The Acoustic History of Hagia Sophia”; P. Fausti, R. Pompoli, N. Prodi, “Comparing the Acoustics of Mosques and Byzantine Churches” (EU Contract ICA3-CT-1999-00007, Conservation of the Acoustical Heritage and Revival of Sinan’s Mosques Acoustics, CAHRISMA, 2000–2003); and Zerhan Karabiber, “The conservation of acoustical heritage,” Workshop 4, CAHRISMA, Fifth Framework INCO-MED Programme of the European Commission.

(2.) Justinian Nov. 3:1 in Novellae, ed. R. Schoell, Vol. 3 of Corpus Iuris Civilis, eds. P. Krueger et al. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1928), 20–21; J. Konidaris, “Die Novellen des Kaisers Herakleios,” in Fontes Minores, ed. D. Simon (Forschungen zur Byzantinischen Rechtsgeschichte 8) (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1982), 5: 62–72, 94–100; and E. Wellesz, A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1961), 165.

(3.) N. Moran, “Byzantine Castrati,” Plainsong and Medieval Music 11 (2002): 99–112; and C. Troelsgaard, “When Did the Practice of Eunuch Singers in Byzantine Chant Begin? Some Notes on the Interpretation of Early Sources,” in Psaltike: Neue Studien zur Byzantinischen Musik: Festschrift für Gerda Wolfram, ed. N.-M. Wanek (Vienna: Praesens, 2011), 345–350.

(4.) R. Nelson, “To Say and to See: Ekphrasis and Vision in Byzantium,” in Visuality before and beyond the Renaissance, ed. R. Nelson (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 143–168; and R. Cormack, “The Mother of God in the Mosaics of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople,” The Mother of God: Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art, ed. M. Vassilaki (Milan: Skira, 2000), 107–123.

(5.) C. Mango, The Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul (Dumbarton Oaks Studies 8) (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1962); and R. Nelson, Hagia Sophia, 1850–1950: Holy Wisdom Modern Monument (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 1–27.

(6.) C. Mango, Materials for the Study of the Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1962).

(8.) N. Ergin, “The Soundscape of Sixteenth-Century Istanbul Mosques: Architecture and Qur’an Recitals,” Journal of Architectural Historians 67.2 (2008): 204–221.

(9.) For Odeon, see “Auralisations compared to in-situ recordings,” site visited June 5, 2015. For Stanford’s Icons of Sound, see Icons of Sound: Cappella Romana in a virtual Hagia Sophia: Cherubic Hymn in Mode 1 and Icons of Sound—Cappella Romana in a virtual Hagia Sophia—Prokeimenon. J. Abel et al., “Recreation of the Acoustics of Hagia Sophia in Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall for the Concert Performance and Recording of Cappella Romana,” presented at the International Symposium on Room Acoustics, Toronto, Canada, 9–11 June 2013; F. Lopez-Lezcano, T. Skare, M. Wilson, and J. Abel, “Byzantium in Bing: Live Virtual Acoustics Employing Free Software.

(10.) C. Troelsgaard, Byzantine Neumes (Copenhagen: Museum Tuscilanum Press, 2011), 5, 23, 30–33, 85–87.

(11.) Troeslgaard, Byzantine Neumes, 85–90; A. Doneda, “I manoscritti liturgico-musicali byzantine: tipologie e organisazione,” in El palimpsesto grecolatino como fenómeno librario y textual, ed. À. Escobar (Collectión Actas. Filologia) (Zaragoza, Spain: Institución “Fernando el Católico,” 2006), 103–110; P. Di Salvo, “Gli asmata nella musica byzantina,” Bolletino della Badia Graeca di Grottaferrata 13 (1959): 45–50; 127–145, vol. 14 (1960): 145–178; and Di Salvo, “Asmaticon,” Bolletino della Badia Graeca di Grottaferrata 16 (1962): 135–158.

(12.) D. Conomos, The Late Byzantine and Slavonic Communion Cycle: Liturgy and Music (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1985); and Troelsgaard, Byzantine Neumes, 85.

(13.) On the challenge of transcribing and performing Byzantine chant as it has survived in Middle Byzantine manuscripts, see A. Lingas, “Performance Practice and the Politics of Transcribing Byzantine Chant,” Acta musicae Byzantinae 6 (2003): 56–76.

(14.) See the Historiography section.

(15.) J. Baldovin, The Urban Character of Christian Worship. The Origins, Development and Meaning of Stational Liturgy (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 228) (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1987).

(16.) This 10th-century system is recorded in the 11th-century manuscript, Jerusalem, Stavrou, MS Gr. 40, published in Le Typikon de la Grand Église, ed. J. Mateos, 2 vols. (Orientalia Christiana Analecta, vols. 165, 166) (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1962–1963).

(17.) S. Parenti, “The Cathedral Rite of Constantinople: Evolution of a Local Tradition,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 77 (2011): 449–469.

(18.) A. Lingas, “From Earth to Heaven: The Changing Musical Soundscape of Byzantine Liturgy,” in Experiencing Byzantium, eds. Claire Nesbitt and Mark Jackson (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2013), 311–358; R. Taft, The Byzantine Rite: A Short History (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992); R. Taft, “The Liturgy of the Great Church: An Initial Synthesis of Structure and Interpretation on the Eve of Iconoclasm,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 34/35 (1980–81): 45–76; and St. Symeon of Thessaloniki, Treatise on Prayer, tr. H. Simmons (Brookline: Hellenic College, 1984); Symeon of Thessaloniki, The Liturgical Commentaries, ed. and tr. Steven Hawkes-Teeples (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies 2011).

(19.) M. Arranz, “La liturgie des Heures selon l’ancien euchologe byzantine,” in Eulogia: Miscellanea liturgical in onore di P. Burkhard Neuheuser O.S.B., Studia Anselmiana. Analecta Liturgica 68 (1979): 1–19; R. Taft, The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993); and A. Lingas, “Sunday Matins in the Byzantine Cathedral Rite: Music and Liturgy” (PhD diss., University of British Columbia, 1996).

(20.) Troelsgaard, Byzantine Neumes, 76–78; and Paris, BnF, MS Gr. 261, Grottaferrata, MSS Gr. Ε.α‎. II, Γ.γ‎. II, Γ.γ‎. IV, Γ.γ‎. VII.

(21.) G. Hanke, Vesper und Orthros des Kathedralritus der Hagia Sophia zu Konstantinopel: eine strukturanalytische und entwicklungsgeschichtliche Untersuchung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Psalmodie und der Formulare in den Euchologien, Th.D diss., Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule St. Georgen, Frankfurt, 2002; and O. Strunk, “The Byzantine Office at Hagia Sophia,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 9–10 (1956): 175–202.

(22.) Hanke, Vesper und Orthros, 2: 285, 295–300, as recorded in the 11th-century Vatican City, BAV, MS Gr. 342, Iuris ecclesiastici Graecorum historia et monumenta iussu Pii ix. Pont. Max., ed. I. Pitra (Rome: Typis Collegii urbani, 1864–1868), 2:209.

(23.) Hanke, Vesper und Orthros, 390–391; and Strunk, “The Byzantine Office at Hagia Sophia,” 200–202.

(24.) Hanke, Vesper und Orthros, 390–391. The Constantinopolitan office has fourteen odes, the Palestinian has nine.

(25.) Athens, National Library, MS Gr. 2062 (late 14th century) and Athens, National Library, MS Gr. 2061 (first quarter of the 15th century).

(26.) A. Lingas, “Christian Liturgical Psalmody: Origins, Development and Decomposition,” in Psalms in Community: Jewish and Christian Textual, Liturgical, and Artistic Traditions, eds. Harold Attridge and Margot Fassler (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), 27–37; Taft, “Christian Liturgical Psalmody,” 9–22; and Taft, Liturgy of the Hours in the East and West (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993), 33–34, 42–48, 211–213, 273–291.

(27.) Hancke, Vesper und Orthros, 2:636–641, prayer n. 3; and S. Parenti and E. Velkovska, Euchologio Barberni Gr. 336, nos. 81, 83 (Rome: Edizioni Liturgiche, 1995), 74–76.

(28.) Hanke, Vesper und Orthros, 1:167, 2:287, 345–348; A. Lingas, “Festal Cathedral Vespers in Late Byzantium,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 63 (1997): 421–459; and Arranz, “L’office de l’Asmatikos hesperinos (“vêpres chantées”) de l’ancien Euchologe byzantin,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 44 (1978): 107–130, 391–419.

(29.) Hanke, Vesper und Orthros, nos. 8, 15, 2:631–634; and Parenti and Velkovska, Euchologio Barberni Gr. 336, no. 56, 52–53; no. 63, 59–60.

(31.) Conomos, “Music for the Evening Office on Whitsunday,” Actes de XVe Congrès International des Études Byzantines (Athens, 1979), pp. 453–469; and S. Harris, “The Byzantine Office of the Genuflexions,” Music and Letters 77 (1996): 333–347. Lingas, “From Earth to Heaven, 328–334

(32.) C. Høeg, Contacarium Ashburnhamense. Codex Bibl. Laurentianae Ashburnhamensis 64. Phototypice Depictus (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1956).

(33.) Lingas, “From Earth to Heaven,” 311–358; and Cappella Romana, Byzantium in Rome: Medieval Chant from Grottaferrata, eds. I. Arvanitis and A. Lingas, 2 CDs (©Cappella Romana, 2006), disc 2, tracks 5–7.

(34.) On this particular teleutaion and its performance with genuflection (gonyklesia), see Conomos, “Music for the Evening Office on Whitsunday,” Actes de XVe Congrès International de’Études Byzantines (Athens, 1979), 453–469; and S. Harris, “The Byzantine Office of the Genuflexion,” Music and Letters 77 (1996): 333–347. Lingas, “From Earth to Heaven,” 328–334.

(35.) On the structure of the antiphon, see R. Taft, “Christian Liturgical Psalmody: Origins, Development and Decomposition,” in Psalms in Community: Jewish and Christian Textual, Liturgical, and Artistic Traditions, eds. H. Attridge and M. Fassler (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), 7–32.

(36.) ἀκολουθία τῆς γονυκλισίας· μετὰ τὴν ἐκτενὴν ἀναβαίνει ὁ δομέστικος ἐν τῷ ἀμβῶνι καὶ ἄρχεται οὕτως‎, Ashburnhamensis 64, fol. 258.

(37.) Lingas, “From Earth to Heaven,” 328–334.

(38.) B. Pentcheva, “In-spiriting in the Byzantine Rite of Consecration (Kathierōsis),” Codex Aqvilarensis 30 (2015): 37–65.

(39.) Lingas, “From Earth to Heaven,” 333.

(40.) C. Weitze, J. Rindel, C. Christensen, and A. Gade, “The Acoustical History of Hagia Sophia revived through computer simulation,”; W. Woszczyk, “Acoustics of Hagia Sophia. Virtual and Scientific Approach to Humanities and Sacred Space,” Aural Architecture; and B. Pentcheva, “Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics,” Gesta 50.2 (2011): 101–106.

(41.) Maximus Confessor, Ad Thalasium 22, in Maximi Confessoris Qvaestiones ad Thalassium, eds. C. Laga and C. Steel (Corpus Christianorum, 7) (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1980), 139; English trans. in P. Blowers and R. Wilken, St. Maximus Confessor. On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Press, 2003), 116.

(42.) The Russian Primary Chronicle: Laurentian Text, ed. and tr. Samuel Cross and Olgerd Sherbowitz-Wetzor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973), 110–111.

(43.) On the etymology and epistemology of marble, F. Barry, “Walking on Water: Cosmic Floors in Antiquity and the Middle Ages,” Art Bulletin 89.4 (2007): 627–656; and Pentcheva, “Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics,” 93–111. E. Schwarzenberg, “Colour, Light and Transparency in the Greek World,” in Medieval Mosaics: Light, Color, Materials, eds. E. Borsook et al. (Villa I Tatti/Harvard University, Center for Italian Renaissance Studies 17) (Milan: Silvana Editorale, 2000), 15–34.

(44.) B. Pentcheva, “Mirror, Inspiration, and the Making of Art in Byzantium,” Convivium 1.2 (2014): 10–39.

(45.) R. Taft, The Great Entrance: A History of the Transfer of Gifts and other Pre-anaphoral Rites (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 200) (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1978), 53–118.

(46.) Taft, The Great Entrance, 54; D. Conomos, Byzantine Trisagia and Cheroubika of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries: A Study of the Late Byzantine Liturgical Chant (Thessaloniki: Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, 1974), 31–41, 121–260.

(47.) G. Peers, Subtle Bodies: Representing Angels in Byzantium (Transformation of the Classical Heritage 32) (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001), 161–171, 177, 191; and G. Peers, “Breathless, speechless images: on the Chalke Gate epigram,” Cahiers des études anciennes 34 (1998): 109–112.

(48.) Conomos, Byzantine Trisagia and Cheroubika, 31–38, 121.

(49.) L. Steenberge, “We Who Mystically Represent:” The Trisagion Fragments in the Cheroubikon,” in Aural Architecture: Music, Acoustics, and Ritual in Byzantium, ed. B. Pentcheva (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2016).

(50.) Conomos, Byzantine Trisagia and Cheroubika, 53, 56, 66.

(51.) For an access to the transcribed music, see Conomos, Byzantine Trisagia and Cheroubika, 57–59, 145–146.

(52.) Germanus, Historia mystica ecclesiae catholicae, sect. 41, Greek and English in St. Germanus of Constantinople. On the Divine Liturgy, tr. P. Meyendorff (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Press, 1984), 94–95.

(53.) Velkovska and Parenti, Euchologio Barberini Gr. 336, no. 5, 3

(54.) Ibid., no. 9, 6; no. 11, 8.

(55.) Pseudo-Dionysius, De caelesti hierarchia, bk. 7, chap. 4; Greek in G. Heil and A. M. Ritter, eds., Corpus Dionysiacum: Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita. De coelesti hierarchia, de ecclesiastica hierarchia, de mystica theologia, epistulae (Patristische Texte und Studien 36) (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1991), 2:31; English in Pseudo-Dionysius. The Complete Works, tr. C. Luibheid (London: SPCK, 1987), 165.

(56.) Pseudo-Dionysius, De caelesti hierarchia, chap. 3, sec. 2; Greek in Corpus Dionysiacum, eds. Heil and Ritter, 2: 18. English tr. Luibheid, Pseudo-Dionysius, 154.

(57.) Pseudo-Dionysius, De caelesti hierarchia, bk. 7, chap. 4.

(58.) Johannes von Gaza, Paulus Silentiarius und Prokopios von Gaza; Kunstbeschreibungen justinianischer Zeit, ed. P. Friedländer (Leipzig, 1912, rpt. Hildesheim, Germany: Olms, 1969). English tr. C. Mango, Art of the Byzantine Empire 312–1453. Sources and Documents (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), 80–96; French tr. M.-C. Fayant and P. Chuvin, Description de Sainte-Sophie de Constantinople (Paris: Die, 1997); and Italian tr. M. Fobelli, Un tempio per Giustiniano: Santa Sofia di Costantinopoli e la “Descrizione” di Paolo Silenziario (Rome: Viella, 2005).

(59.) Johannes von Gaza; Alternative English tr. C. Mango, Art of the Byzantine Empire 312–1453, 80–96. French tr. M.-C. Fayant and P. Chuvin, Description de Sainte-Sophie de Constantinople; Italian tr. M. Fobelli, Un tempio per Giustiniano.

(60.) Paul the Silentiary, Descriptio S. Sophiae, vv. 337–350.

(61.) W. Lethaby and H. Swainson, The Church of Sancta Sophia: A Study of Byzantine Building (London and New York: Kessinger, 1894, rpt. 2004); and E. Antoniades, Ekphrasis tes Hagias Sophias, etoi melete synthetike kai analytike hypo epopsin architektoniken, archaiologiken kai historiken tou polythryletou temenous Konstantinoupoleos, 3 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1907)

(62.) T. Mathews, The Early Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971).

(63.) R. Mainstone, R., Hagia Sophia (London: Thames and Hudson, 1985); and H. Svenshon and R. Stichel, “‘System of Monads’ as Design Principle in the Hagia Sophia: Neo-Platonic Mathematics in the Architecture of Late Antiquity,” Nexus VI. Architecture and Mathematics, ed. S. Duvernoy and O. Pedemonte (Turin, Italy: Kim Williams, 2006), 111–120; W. Jabi and J. Potamianos, “Geometry, Light, and Cosmology in the Church of Hagia Sophia,” International Journal of Architectural Computing 5.2 (2007): 305–319, esp. 306–310; and V. Hoffmann, Der geometrische Entwurf der Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Bern: Lang, 2005).

(64.) N. Isar, Chorós: The Dance of Adam: The Making of Byzantine Chorography, the Anthropology of the Choir of Dance in Byzantium (Leiden, The Netherlands: Alexandros, 2011); B. Pentcheva, “Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics,” 93–111; and N. Schibille, Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2014).

(65.) A. Baumstark, Comparative Liturgy (Westminster, MD: Newman, 1953).

(66.) M. Arranz, “Le grande étapes de la liturgie byzantine: Palestine-Byzance-Russe: essai d’areçu historique,” in Liturgie de l’église particulière, liturgie de l’église universelle (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1976), 43–72; M. Arranz, “L’office de l’Asmatikos Hesperinos (vêpres chantées’) de l’ancien Euchologe byzantine,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 44 (1978): 107–130, 391–419; Arranz, “L’office de l’Asmatikos Orthors (’matines chantées’) de l’ancien Euchologe byzantine,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 47 (1981): 122–157; J. Mateos, La celebration de la parole dans la liturgie byzantine: etude historique (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1971); R. Taft, The Great Entrance: A History of the Transfer of Gifts and other Pre-anaphoral Rites (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 200) (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1978); Taft, “The Liturgy of the Great Church,” 45–76; Taft, “Christian Liturgical Psalmody: Origins, Development and Decomposition,” in Psalms in Community: Jewish and Christian Textual, Liturgical, and Artistic Traditions, eds. Harold Attridge and Margot Fassler (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), 7–32.

(67.) K. Romanou,Εθνικής Μουσικής Περιήγησις1901–1912: Ελληνικά μουσικά περιοδικά ως πηγή έρευνας της ιστορίας της Νεσελληνικής Μουσικής‎ (Athens: Koultoura, 1996), 1: 50–59; and T. Georgiades, “Bemerkungen zur Erforschung der byzantinischen Kirchenmusik,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 39 (1939): 67–88. H. J. W. Tyllard, Handbook of the Middle Byzantine Notation (MMB Subsidia 1) (Copenhagen: Levin and Munksgaard, 1935); and E. Wellesz, A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1961).

(68.) Lingas, “Performance Practice and the Politics of Transcribing Byzantine Chant,” 56–76; and J. Raasted, “Thoughts on a Revision of the Transciption Rules of the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae,” Cahiers de l’Institut du Moyen-âge grec et latin 54 (1986): 13–38.

(69.) Stichera form non-scriptural poetry (troparia) for orthros and vespers from the Menaion (fixed feasts), the Triodion (Lent), the Pentekostarion (Easter season), and the Oktoechos (a hymn book with material organized around the eight modes; it is used on Sundays and weekdays throughout the year). Heirmos refers to the model stanzas at the beginning of each of the nine odes of the Byzantine canon, which give the new hymn (troparion) a model for melody and rhythm. If this is a unique melody, it is called idiomelos, if it is derivate, it is called prosomoia; Troelsgaard, Byzantine Neumes, 80–85.

(70.) Troelsgaard, Byzantine Neumes, 85–90.

(71.) In recent times Cappella Romana, the group based in North America has led this movement to transcribe and record Byzantine chant. For their albums, check the website.

(72.) Liturgies Eastern and Western: Being the Texts Original or Translated of the Principal Liturgies of the Church, Eastern Liturgies V1, eds. C. E. Hammond and F. E. Brightman (Oxford: Clarendon, 1896).

(73.) Le Typikon de la Grand Église.

(74.) Parenti and Velkovska, Euchologio Barberni Gr. 336; and M. Arranz, “La liturgie des Heures selon l’ancien euchologe byzantine,” in Eulogia: Miscellanea liturgical in onore di P. Burkhard Neuheuser O.S.B., Studia Anselmiana. Analecta Liturgica 68 (1979): 1–19.

(75.) J. Lowden, The Jaharis Gospel Lectionary. The Story of a Byzantine Book (New York and New Haven, CT: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2009).

(76.) M. Evangelatrou, “Liturgy and the Illustration of the Ninth-Century Marginal Psalters,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 63 (2009): 59–116.

(77.) Contacarium Ashburnhamense. Codex Bibl. Laurentianae Ashburnhamensis 64. Phototypice Depictus, ed. C. Høeg (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1956); S. Harris, Communion Chants of the Thirteenth-Century Byzantine Asmatikon (Amsterdam: Hardwood Academic Publishers, 1999); and D. Conomos, The Late Byzantine and Slavonic Communion Cycle: Liturgy and Music (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1985).

(78.) Paris, BnF, MS Gr. 261, Grottaferrata, MSS Gr. Ε.α‎. II, Γ.γ‎. II, Γ.γ‎. IV, Γ.γ‎. VII. and the akolouthiai, Athens, National Library, MS Gr. 2062 (late 14th century) and Athens, National Library, MS Gr. 2061 (first quarter of the 15th century); Troelsgaard, Byzantine Neumes, 76–78.

(79.) Johannes von Gaza; English tr. C. Mango, Art of the Byzantine Empire 312–1453, 80–96; and the prologue of Paul the Silentiary in P. Bell, Three Political Voices from the Age of Justinian: Agapetus, Advice to the Emperor, Dialogue on Political Science, Paul the Silentiary, The Description of Hagia Sophia (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009), 189–212.

(80.) C. Trypanis, Fourteen Early Byzantine Cantica (Wiener byzantinische Studien 5) (Vienna: E. Becvar, 1968), 139–147, esp. 141–142; and A. Palmer, “The Inauguration Anthem of Hagia Sophia in Edessa: A New Edition and Translation with Historical and Architectural Notes and a Comparison with a Contemporary Constantinopolitan Kontakion,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 12 (1988): 117–167.

(81.) R. Bornert, Les commentaires byzantins de la Divine Liturgie du VIIe au XVe siècle (Paris: Institut français d’études byzantines, 1966); in English, The Church, the Liturgy, and the Soul of Man. The Mystagogia of St. Maximus the Confessor, tr. Dom Julian Stead, O. S. B (Still River, MA: St. Bede’s Publications, 1982); St. Germanus of Constantinople on the Divine Liturgy, ed. P. Meyendorff (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984).