Aramaic Project

No. 230 to 221 - Interviews and Performances - Video List

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Aramaic Project Number Description Duration Date of recording Place of Recording Video
AP 226

കിരീടം വാഴ്‌വ് : Crowning ceremony at Syro Malabar wedding. Sherin & Treesa

The revival of an old tradition in the Syro Malabar Church. The crowning ceremony with bilingual singing during the wedding of Sherin Joseph and Treesa David.

A grassroots level movement is gaining traction in the Syro Malabar Church to bring back the crowning ceremony as part of the wedding ritual. The younger generation of the Syro Malabar Church is taking the initiative, and their local Vicars are going along with it. The song that is part of the ceremony is in Malayalam, but the Syriac chant Bar Maryam is the tune. The performance practice is bilingual. The refrain is in Syriac and the strophes are in Malayalam. Bilingual singing, too, is a new development. It portends a positive trend for the future of the Syro Malabar liturgy and the Syriac tradition. The couple was kind enough to share their thoughts on camera. The comments are useful to researchers on Syro Malabar traditions. We are grateful to Denny Karamkunnel for sharing this video with us and doing the couple's interview. Denny was a server during the ceremony. see also Aramaic Project-171

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
18 January 2021

#ഷെറിൻ_ട്രീസ #Sherin_Treesa #ഷെറിൻ_ജോസഫ് #Sherin_Joseph #Treesa_David #സിറോ_മലബാർ_സഭ #Syro_Malabar_Wedding #സിറോ_Malabar_Crowning_Ceremony #Crowning_Ceremony

5:16 21 Oct 2020 St. Thomas Church, Palakuzhy, Vadakkenchery, Palakkad
AP 225

ലാകു മാറാ . A second melody. Resurrection Hymn ഉത്ഥാന ഗീതം. Fr. G. Nellikat

#FrGerogeNellikkatt #Babu_Puthumana #Benedy_Anikkad

In this video, we introduce a second melody of the Resurrection Hymn, Laku Mara. It is from a recording of solemn Qurbana in Syriac by Fr. George Nellikkatt and the Cicilan choir. Babu Puthumana, an admirer of Fr. Nellikkat, made the recording. This melody is known only to a few priests and church choirs in Kerala. From Fr. Paul Kodamullil’s interview in Aramaic Project-3 (, we learn that Fr. Mathew Vadakel, a singer, professor, and scholar of the Syriac language at St. Joseph’s Seminary at Aluva, composed the melody, sometime in the early 1950s. The variety of melodies of the same chant indicates that local choirs enjoyed considerable freedom in the selection of music for the Qurbana. The melody is unique in many ways. It has two incipits and one strophe. The incipits are in the same meter and melody of the strophe. This is different from the usual performance practice in which the incipit is articulated a tempo rubato without adhering to the meter of the strophe. In the third iteration of the chant, the deacon’s exhortation completes the cadence in the melody. That, too, is unusual. In Aramaic Project-138 (37:00) we hear this melody in the voice of Bennedy Anikkad. We are grateful to Babu Puthumana for granting permission to post this melody on our channel and to archive it in our library. References: Aramaic Project-3 ( Aramaic Project-138 (37:00

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
7 January 2021
6:07   Track from the Music CD - Solemn Qurbana by Fr. George Nellikkatt
AP 224

The Nativity Hymn in the original language. Thesbohtha lalaha.

Angels' song at the birth of Christ in its original language. 'Thesbohtha lalaha bamraume'. Glory to God in the highest. Fr. George Nellikkat. Courtesy: Babu Puthumana.

Note. The Aramaic project- team would like to wish our subscribers around the world a Merry Christmas with the song that the angels sang to the shepherds, in its original language. Because Aramaic was the native language of the area at that time and the only language the illiterate shepherds would understand. From the early Christian era, important liturgical celebrations in the Syriac tradition, especially Qurbana and the Hours, started with this hymn. In Qurbana, the hymn sets the tone of the particular chronology of the salvation history. The version we hear in this video is from the Solemn Qurbana by a celebrated singer, Fr. George Nellikkat. Fr. Nellikkat was blessed with an unusual tone and a high range of voice that would remind us of the vocal quality of famous opera singers in the West. Babu Puthumana, a friend and admirer of Fr. Nellikkat, made an audio recording of the Qurbana. But for the initiative of Babu Puthumana, the outside world would not have known that such a great talent existed in Kerala. Fr. Nellikkat's vocal style is reminiscent of the pre-amplification era when singers had to reach out to a large number of people who occupied a wide space. In order to accomplish that they had to employ a high vocal register. Fr. Nellikkat's vocal style is an excellent example. The text is sung three times in ascending pitch registers. Reiterating certain texts three times used to be a characteristic of Syriac liturgy. The singing brings out the solemnity and the grandeur of the text and the joyful occasion. Sadly, the vernacular versions of this song have not captured those elements. We hope the Syriac version will become part of the liturgical experience of the Syro Malabar Catholics in the near future. Christian Musicological Society of India is grateful to Babu Puthumana for granting permission to post this on our channel. We are also grateful to Ken Rudzwick and the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank in Maspeth, New York, and Nuala Joyce of Middle Village in New York for appreciating the value of the Aramaic Project. Slamma. Merry Christmas.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York Christmas, 2020.

5:46 Track from the Music CD - Solemn Qurbana by Fr. George Nellikkatt
AP 223

Anthem of the Mysteries Pagre damsiha. A different version.Fr George Nellikkatt

Pagre(h) Damsiha. see full recording at Aramaic Project-157 The Anthem of the Mysteries with several specialties. From the solemn Qurbana by Fr. George Nellikkatt.


2:14   Track from the Music CD - Solemn Qurbana by Fr. George Nellikkatt
AP 222

Minor Doxology in East Syriac: Suwha Lawa/ Glory be

Fr. George Nellikkatt begins the Solemn Qurbana in Syriac with the Trinitarian doxology, ending with Halleluia (three times). Source: Babu Puthumana. Choir: Cicilan Paika. See full recording at . Aramaic Project - 157. The practice of starting the solemn Qurbana with the Trinitarian doxology and Halleluia may go back to the early seventeenth century, in compliance with the outcome of the Synod of Diamper (1599).

Keywords: Minor doxology. George Nellikkatt. Cicilian Paika. Babu Puthumana, Solemn qurbana in Syriac. Minor doxology, Christian Music, Syriac chants

AP 221

A Catechism Class on St. Ephrem the Syrian. Koonammakkal Thoma Kathanar.

Note: The name of St. Ephrem, the pride and glory of Syriac Christianity, is not familiar enough to the Syro Malabar Catholics. We are indeed blessed to have a class on St. Ephrem's significance by an eminent scholar of Kerala, Koonammakkal Thoma Kathanar. The theology of St. Ephrem should have been a chapter in the high school students' catechetical textbooks. This poet-saint who lived and taught and sang in the fourth century is still appealing to our era. St. Ephrem married theology to the sound and rhythm of Syriac poetry. He was very much like the rishis in India who composed Mahabharat in poetry. St. Ephrem, according to Koonammakkal Kathanar, was more prolific than the Indian rishis. Our Hindus in India have been smarter than the Christians in the matter of pedagogy of faith. Hindu stories and legends were transmitted not through formal classroom education but art and poetry. Children learned innumerable lines of poetry and mastered religious lessons through poems. St. Ephrem bequeathed a beautiful example that did not catch the attention of Syro Malabar Catholics. This video is a wake-up call. Theology is not an intellectual gymnastics but the oxygen for living, breathing lungs of faith. We hope that this video will inspire many people to rediscover St. Ephrem and tell themselves that it is all right to enjoy faith and that aesthetics and faith are complementary. "Sing to the Lord a new song" (Psalm 96:1).

We are immensely grateful to Jarly Mathew and Kuriachan J. Palackal for making this videotaped conversation happen. At present, the Kathanar is suffering from ill health and we do not know when he will regain the strength to talk as he did in this video. We can only pray, be grateful to God, and enjoy what we have.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York 8
December 2020.

(Feast of the Immaculate Conception)

9:57 3 August 2014. Recorded at Beth Aprem Nazrani Dayra, Kuravilangad, Kottayam Dt., Kerala, India.
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