Aramaic Project

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Aramaic Project Number Description Duration Date of recording Place of Recording Video

Family entertainment with a Syriac song. An unusual video

Syriac as part of home-entertainment. 18 April 2020. Abudhabi, UAE

We celebrate the two hundredth video with an unusual video of family entertainment in which young children sing and dance the Syriac alphabet. The sound of the Syriac language is becoming a part of the daily experience of the Syro Malabar Catholics. There is no coercion from any source to bring back the Syriac language. The young parents of these children create an atmosphere in which children can express themselves without inhibitions. Even the youngest child, who is not yet two years old, is capable of articulating the sound of the Syriac alphabet. This can be a role model for the families of young parents who value the Syriac heritage of the Syro Malabar Church, and desire to initiate a grass-root level movement to bring back the sound of Syriac into the Syro Malabar liturgy. We are immensely grateful to the parents of these children, Jisa and Nibin Joseph Cheppila, for granting permission to post this video on our channel.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
24 August 2020

Keywords: Aaron Cheppila, Rachel Cheppila, Ivania Cheppila, Syriac alphabet in song

5:18 18 April 2020 Residence of Nibin & Jisa Cheppila, Abudhabi, UAE

SLOSAK AWUN . St. Thomas Syro Malabar Church, Detroit, Michigan

Syro Malabar Catholics welcome Bishop Mar Francis Kalabat, Bp of St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Diocese of the East, USA. Feast of Marth Maryam Parish. 32 May 2019. The congregation welcomes the Bishop with the song "Slothak Awun." Co-celebrants: Fr. Nicholas T, Vicar of St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church and Fr. Joy Chakkiath, former vicar. Singers: Sr. Sevana, Biju Scaria, Joseph Manalel, and Titty Thomas.

The Syriac song to welcome a Bishop, Slothak Awun, is getting attention in the Syro Malabar Church. It is an indication of the increasing comfort level of the younger generation of Syro Malabar Catholics, especially in the USA, with the Syriac tradition. We have other examples of this song already in our archive. So far, we have heard only one melodic version. Special thanks to Jose George Mappilaparampil, for sharing this video with us.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
13 August 2020

Keywords: Syro Malabar, Detroit. Bishop Kalabat, Marth Maryam Parish, Detroit, Syro Malabar, USA.

3:02 31 Aug 2019 St. Thomas Syro Mabalar Church, Detroit,Michigan

Children beat Corona virus by choral singing. SMYM KATTAPPANA Forane

The Syro Malabar Youth Movement (SMYM) of Kattappana Forane Church organizes a choral presentation of Hellleluia. 19 May 2020. Special thanks to Fr. Sebastian Muthuplackal and Nazrani Padana Parampara (Nazrani Learning Series).

Note : First of all, we need to appreciate the initiative of the Kattappana Forane SMYM in choosing a joyful song to uplift our souls at a sad time in the world. It reminds us that we should praise God, Hallel Yahweh, Halleluia, at all times.

Second, the melody poses a question to those who think that Syriac chants are sad and appropriate only for funeral services. The melody here is bright and upbeat. The tonal center of this melody is in the middle of a six-note scale. In the opening phrase, that tonal center is approached from a perfect fourth below, giving a sense of joyful, upward, dancelike movement and highlight the meaning of the text.

Third, we do not know the composer of the melody. The melody may be of Kerala origin. It lacks the Middle Eastern flavor. The relationship between adjacent pitches does not have the ornamentations characteristic of the Carnatic or Hindustani classical vocalization. It requires further research to determine the sources of several of the melodies of the solemn Qurbana of the Syro Malabar Church.

We are grateful to Fr. Sebastian Muthuplackal and his academic initiative under the banner of Nazrani Padana Parampara

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
28 July 2020

Keywords: Kattappana Forane Church, Sebastian Muthuplackal, Helleluia, Nazrani Padana Parampara

5:38 19 May 2020

Group recording on Smule App of children from SMYM Kattapana Forane Church,Idukki


Syriac chant to celebrate St. Thomas Day. Houston, Texas.

#Trisagion #QandisaAlaha : Young Adult English choir of St. Joseph's Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Houston Sings a Syriac song in honor of the Apostle Thomas, who brought Aramaic Christianity to India. Recorded on 2 July 2020.

Note from Fr. Rajeev Valiyaveettil. It was a few of the youth belonging to the St. Joseph Syro Malabar Catholic Church Houston Young Adult English choir. There was a neat initiative taken by a group of Syro Malabar Youth from California who was doing a series of social media posts in connection with the perunual preparations for St. Thomas. They asked me and some of our youth leaders if they could sing a Syriac song. The recording is done on an iPhone at St. Joseph Syro Malabar Catholic Forane Church, Houston. It was released officially on July 2nd.

3:27 2 July 2020 St. Joseph's Syro Malabar Catholic Church, Houston


Catechism through Syriac chants. Ramsha Mariam Payyappilly

Young Adult English choir of St. Joseph's Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Houston Sings a Syriac song in honor of the Apostle Thomas, who brought Aramaic Christianity to India. Recorded on 2 July 2020.


In this video, Rahul John and Nimitha Susan Payyappilly show us an example of a new paradigm for resuscitating the Syriac sound in the Syro Malabar Church. Their four-year-old daughter learned to sing the Christological hymn Sagdinan Mar and the Trisagion, Qandisa Alaha. The phonemes of both chants are easy to articulate for a four-year-old child. The meaning, however, is far beyond the child’s grasp. But, the Payyappilly couple does not want to wait for years to teach these chants. Children learn the native language before they learn the nuances of grammar. Similarly, parents can bring simple, singable Syriac chants to the mental map of the children. In the future, they will explore the meaning and theology of the song texts. The family sings the Trisagion together. Rahel, the youngest in the hands of her mother, may seem disconnected, but the sound and the sentiments are, undoubtedly, migrating to her mental computer. The Payyappally family shows how Syriac chants can be a part of the conversations at the dining table, and later during the family prayer. If more families adopt this strategy, the Syriac language will not die out in the Syro Malabar Church. God bless the Payyappilly family.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
14 July 2020

4:30 24 April 2020. Home of Ramsha Mariam


Syriac chants during priestly ordination of Fr Melvin Paul. Chicago

Syriac chants during priestly ordination ceremony for Fr. Melvin Paul. St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Cathedral, Chicago. Saturday,16 May 2020. See more on the welcome song on our Encyclopedia of Syriac chants


Note: The conversation on Syriac chants reaches the younger generation of priests in the Syro Malabar Church in America. Fr. Melvin Paul Mangalath decided to follow the footsteps of the other priests who recently received priestly ordination in the same diocese. Fr. Melvin went a step further by including the welcome song, Slothak Awun Thehawelan, during the bishop-celebrants' entrance procession. This was the first time we heard this song in this context in the Syro Malabar Church in the USA. Fr. Melvin took another bold step by including the texts of the Syriac chants in Syriac script and English transliteration in the program prepared for the occasion. Such bold decisions have far-reaching effects. We thank Fr. Melvin for granting permission to post this video on our Channel. It was in 2013 we introduced Syriac chants in America during the celebration of Qurbana at the National Shrine, and Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D. C. (Aramaic Project-66 What we see in this video are some of the fruits of that pioneering venture. If more priests and people warm up to the Syriac tradition, the liturgical and linguistic map of America will look different in the not-so-distant future. Joseph J. Palackal, CMI New York 8 July 2020

Keywords: Fr. Melvin Paul Mangalath. Syro Malabar USA. Syro Malabar Chicago. Priestly ordination -Syriac chants.

#SyriacChants #AramaicProject #SyroMalabar

8:11 16 May 2020 St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Cathedral, Chicago.


St. Thomas Chant for the feast of Dukhrana.

Mar Walah, the very words from the mouth of the Apostle of India. The St. Thomas Christians have the privilege of owning up and celebrating these words, especially on July 3.

Note: ( On Aramaic Project - AP 189) “Mar Walah” (My Lord and my God; John 20:28) is the most succinct profession of faith in Jesus Christ as both God and Man. It was Thomas the Apostle who first used the term, ALAHA (God), to refer to Jesus. The word is more profound than Misiha (Messiah) that St. Peter used in answer to the question, “But who do you say that I am ?” (Mark 8:29). Ironically, the most certain assertion of the divinity of Jesus came from the Apostle, who is often called as “Doubting Thomas.”

Mar Walah, the simple, three-syllable phrase, maybe the first step toward introducing Syriac literacy among children. And it is an honor and a privilege for Christian children in India to start their Syriac lessons as well as catechetical training with a unique phrase that came from Thomas the Apostle, their father in faith. Additionally, the expression contains an essential lesson in Syriac grammar that highlights the difference between the phonemic (written) and the phonetic (sound) versions of words in the Syriac language. For example, the Syriac word "Mar" is written as "Mar(y)," with a silent yod at the end. This silent yod, however, changes the meaning considerably; the yod adds a first-person, possessive case to Mar, meaning “My” Lord.

"Mar Walah" could serve as the first lesson in catechesis, too. Children can experience the foundation of faith in Jesus as both God and Man. Such an experience may lead to the realization that faith is as intimate to them as their breath (“Ruh/Ruha”).

The idea of a simple, singable, and celebratory melodic design for Mar Walah happened to me on Sunday, 22 September 2019 in the backyard of the St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Boston. I was a guest of the Parish for that weekend. My mission was to prepare the choir to sing the English version of Qurbana that I co-composed. The vicar asked me to teach Sunday school children as well as the parish choir before the 10.30 am Qurbana.

It was a beautiful day with bright sunlight. After breakfast, I took a walk in the backyard of the church. Most of the birds had finished their morning prayer; some were still active in praising their creator. A soft wind caressed the grass on the ground and the leaves on the full-grown trees. Overall, it was a wonderful time of the Fall season. I was planning in my mind how to conduct the music training session. All of a sudden, out of the blue, the phrase “Mar Walah” in this melodic format came to my mind. I could not resist it. I sang it to myself and then to the trees around; the dancing leaves in the soothing wind nodded in appreciation. An hour later, I sang it to the children in the church. The children learned it easily and responded to me enthusiastically. We ended the homily by singing it again. I was pleased with the outcome.

The next weekend, I had the opportunity to celebrate the Qurbana for the Sunday School children at the St. Jude Syro Malabar Church in Northern Virginia (see Aramaic Project-158 ). At this time, I tried to add the Malayalam version of Mar Walah. The children and their parents enthusiastically responded. The Malayalam text fitted well into the melodic contours of the Syriac text. Overall, it turned out to be a celebratory experience.

On the weekend of Sunday 16 February 2020, I was invited to train the Sunday School choir at St. Alphonsa Syro Malabar Church at Coppell in Dallas, Texas. The choir and the Sunday school children learned Syriac chants to celebrate a bilingual Qurbana in English and Syriac. This gave me a perfect opportunity to introduce Mar Walah to a different community. We decided to use the song as a post-Communion meditation. What we see in the video is a recording of that event. It became clear that Mar Walah is the most appropriate prayer for thanksgiving after Holy Communion. In Communion, Jesus grants us the privilege of physical intimacy that is similar to what He granted the Apostle Thomas, during the second appearance (John 20:27-29). I hope and pray that musically inclined priests take a cue from this video and take the experiment to the next level.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
7 May 2020


16 February 2020.

Syro Malabar Church, Coppell, Dallas, Texas


Did St. Thomas Come to Kerala?

A critical inquiry into the CNN program on Doubting Thomas. Cyriac Scaria cross-examines Dr. Joseph J. Palackal, CMI, one of the guests on the CNN program.

Keywords: CNN Doubting Thomas. Cyriac Scaria. Joseph J. Palackal. Kerala. St. Thomas Christians, India


CNN Documentry


Qandisa Alaha and Covid-19. Syro Malabar children sing in Austin, Texas

The children's choir of the St. Alphonsa Syro Malabar Catholic Church at Austin, Texas, USA, gives a new meaning to the famous Syriac chant at the time of an international disaster.See more details on this chant at our Encyclopedia of Syriac Chants ...


What is the connection between the popular Syriac chant Qandisa Alaha and the international disaster of the present time, Covid-19? Fr. Dominic Perunilam, Vicar of St. Alphonsa Syro Malabar Catholic Church at Austin, Texas, USA, thinks there is a connection. In the usual circumstances, the highlight of the text of this chant is the Thrice-Holy, the song text of the Angelic liturgy in heaven, as Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:3) and the author of the Book of Revelation envisioned (Revelation 4:8). Fr. Dominic, however, sees a semantic shift in the song in the present predicament. Fr. Dominic draws attention in his introductory comments to the last verse: Esraham alayn ("Have mercy on us"). In biblical times, we see several instances of people turning to God seeking mercy in dire need arising out of catastrophes. With that in mind, Fr. Dominic encouraged the children’s choir to sing the chant and post it on public media to soothe the viewers and draw their attention to the ever merciful God. The choir consists of exceptionally talented singers who created excellent audio and video tracks. The Children as well as the Choir Directors, Ajith Varghese, and Priya Varghese, deserve our hearty congratulations and gratitude. We thank Fr. Dominic Perunilam for granting permission to add this video to our archive for future reference. Scholars on the history of the Aramaic language in North America may find this and other videos of the Syro Malabar children singing Syriac chants useful. Although the vocal cords of these children are tuned to the sonorities of the American English, the sound of the Syriac language is smooth and pleasant in their choral articulation of the chant. The children may not be aware, but they are enriching the linguistic soundscape and rewriting the history of the Syro Malabar Church in the North American continent. We wish them very well and encourage them to return to our Aramaic Project archive ( in twenty years to see what they did as children. More importantly, they will have a story to tell their children and grandchildren.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
12 June 2020

Keywords: St. Alphonsa Syro Malabar Church, Austin, Texas, Fr. Dominic Perunilam, Trisagion.

4:28 18 May 2020 St. Alphonsa Syro Malabar Catholic Church at Austin, Texas, USA,


Five-hundred children preparing for bilingual (English/Syriac )Qurbana, Dallas

Bilingual (English/Syriac) Qurbana at St. Alphonsa Syro Malabar Church, Coppell, Dallas, Texas. Fr. Jacob Christy, Vicar. See also Aramaic Project-189

Note: We are grateful to Soy Joseph for capturing these moments for future reference. Fr. Jacob Christy, Vicar, invited me to prepare the choir to sing the English version of the Qurbana that I co-composed with George Thaila. Fr. Jacob told me that the community has been warming up to Syriac chants. Therefore, I used the occasion to introduce a few popular Syriac chants to the Sunday School children, who enthusiastically responded. What we see in the video is the practice session prior to Qurbana in the School Hall, and various moments from the Qurbana itself. We experimented "Mar Walah" as a post-communion meditation , which went very well. See note on Aramaic Project-189. This was probably the largest group of children that I had the opportunity to train. Sincere and earnest cooperation of the children was a reward. It also taught me that the Syro Malabar Children, indeed, can imbibe this tradition, even without understanding the historical significance. The sound of the Syriac language and the simplicity and elegance of the melodies seem to have a great appeal to young minds. Also, the format of English/Syriac bilingual Qurbana seems to be gaining traction in the USA. It is up to the hierarchy and the liturgical committee to appreciate this and take necessary action to build on it. That will be a service not only to the Syro Malabar Church but also to the world's cultural heritage.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York Ascension
Thursday-21 May 2020

Keywords: Syro Malabar Coppell, Syro Malabar Dallas, Jacob Christy, Soy Joseph, Bilingual Qurbana

5:22 17 February, 2020

St. Alphonsa Syro Malabar Catholic Church, Coppell, Dallas, Texas

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