Aramaic Project

No. 250 to 241 - Interviews and Performances - Video List

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Aramaic Project Number Description Duration Date of recording Place of Recording Video
AP 246/VI-01

Syro-Malankara Qurbana ആഘോഷമായ പാട്ടു കുർബാന. Bishop Abraham Mar Julios.

Syro Malankara Solemn High Mass by His Excellency, Bishop Abraham Mar Julios, Bishop Emeritus of Diocese of Muvattupuzha; celebrated on 13 August 2021 at St. Mary's Forane Church, Pallippuram, in preparation for the feast of the Assumption of our Lady. Aramaic Project AP VI : Syro Malankara Church.

Note: We are glad to start Aramaic Project-Part VI with the video of the solemn celebration of Qurbana in the Antiochene rite of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church. The Celebrant is Most Rev. Dr. Abraham Mar Julios, Bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Muvattupuzha. The celebration took place on 13 August 2021 at St. Mary's Forane Church, Pallippuram, Chethala. The occasion was preparation for the principal feast of the parish, the Assumption of our Blessed Mother. There are many aspects of this Qurbana that students and scholars might be interested in studying the history of Catholic liturgies. The prayers, rituals, chants, musical style in this Qurbana is different. For example, the text, melody, style of chanting, and performance practice of the Malayalam version of the Trisagion are considerably different from those of the Syro Malabar Church. They all add to the musical treasures of Kerala and deserve attention from musicologists of any religious affiliation. Because these melodies belong to the category of intercultural music and are part of Kerala's cultural and religious histories. We hope scholars in related fields will use this video as a primary source for their researches.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
25 August 2021


Bp Abraham, Mar Julios Bp, Julios BishopEmeritus DioceseofMuvattupuzha,
Syro Malankara Church , Malankara Reethu, Malankara rite, HolyMass SolemnMass, SolemnHighMass, Pallippuram, PallippuramPalli, SyroMalabarChurch CatholicChurch

59:15 13 August 2021 St. Mary's Forane Church, Pallippuram
AP 245

ലിസം - Syriac East Meets Latin West. Intercultural Music during Syriac Qurbana

Syriac East meets Latin West in Kerala. Part 3. Lisam [leson/listen]:

Secular music in Sacred Space in the Syro Malabar Church. An intercultural, interreligious musical phenomenon in Kerala. Note: This video shows an interesting musical phenomenon from the Syriac period in the Syro Malabar Church. During the solemn celebration of Qurbana, church musicians played incidental music on the violin or harmonium to fill in silent periods during the liturgy. The melodies were not from the Syriac tradition. The violin player chose the tunes from such varied sources as South Indian classical music, film music, popular devotional songs, or even practice lessons intended for violin students. Thus, the 'lisam' melodies represented both Eastern and Western cultural traditions and were truly intercultural music. The tunes were referred to in Malayalam as 'lisam',which may have derived from two English words, "listen" or "lesson." The performance context of the melodies ranged from an overture-like introduction before the Qurbana, distribution of communion, or any period of silence that extends more than a few minutes. Generally, the melodies had a fast tempo in contrast to the medium and slow tempo of the Syriac melodies. Each performer had his repertory of tunes that he cherished as his private property and would teach only to his favorite students. Violin used to be the favored solo instrument for 'lisam'. In this video, we have one example of a melody played on the harmonium. We do not know if any other Christian community in the world played an overture before the Eucharistic celebration. In retrospect, it is difficult to believe that the community allowed the musicians to erase the boundaries between the sacred and the secular, prayer and performance during Eucharistic liturgy. We have no records of either the clergy or the laity objecting to this practice. On the contrary, a musician's fame depended on the number of lisam-s that he could perform. We hope this video will inspire a conversation among sociologists and musicologists, especially prospective Indian Christian musicologists.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
11 August 2021

11:32 7 August 2006 Old Cathedral Church, Pala
AP 244

Syriac East Meets Latin West Part 2 Kyrie Eleison Bennedy & Pappootty

The intercultural music of the Syro Malabar Church Note: Here is yet another video from the Latin period of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala. The interaction between the St. Thomas Christians and the Portuguese missionaries was one of conflict and compromise. The missionaries were not happy with the Syriac language and liturgical practices of the St. Thomas Christians. They tried to persuade the local Christians to adopt the Latin liturgy. After initial resistance, St. Thomas Christians decided to compromise and eventually adapted many Latin liturgical practices. They translated the Latin chants into Syriac and composed melodies for them using local musical idioms. For example, in this video, we see the local adaptation of the Litany in Syriac translation. The Greek word "Kyrie" became "Kuriye" in Malayalam. The local version of the melody uses 6/8 ( 2 + 4) 4)rhythm. The two percussion players (triangle and drum) use two approaches in executing the rhythm. The triangle player strikes on every beat with equal importance. On the other hand, the drum player strikes on the accented beats (1 and 3) in the metric cycle. The music from the Latin period of the Syro Malabar Catholics resulted from several years of cultural interaction with the Christian West. In the process, the Syro Malabar Catholics created a body of uniquely intercultural chants; These chants deserve attention from Ethnomusicologists.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
10 August 2021


4 September 2018


Residence of Benedy Ponmalakkunnel, Kottayam
AP 243

"Pagre(h) Damsiha" at First Communion. St Jude Syro Malabar Catholic Church, USA

Note: In this video, for the first time in America, we see First Communion children singing the Anthem of the Mysteries, “Pagre(h) damsiha” the body of the Misiha, “wadme yaqira,” and the precious blood. This happened at St. Jude’s Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Northern Virginia ( As in the previous years, the children also sang the famous Christological hymn, “Sagdinan Mar”( The two hymns combined to cover the entire catechism that the First Communion children should know. In this particular celebration, we hear Bishop Jacob Angadiath, the celebrant, singing with the children. Probably, the Bishop could not contain his joy listening to the children. St. Jude’s Church has been a pioneer in introducing Syriac chants to children. Felix Simon, the co-founder of the Aramaic Project, took the initiative to start a conversation on the subject in 2013, soon after the celebration of the bilingual Qurbana (English-Syriac) at the National Shrine and Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. (see Aramaic Project-65 Ever since, First Communion Qurbana at St. Jude’s included Syriac chants. The adults have come to expect it, and they also appreciate the efforts and enthusiasm of the children. We hope the children will continue keep up their interest in the Syriac tradition of their mother church, and other parishes will take their lead. These actions will change the religious soundscape of America. God bless the children. More details on these chants are available on our digital Encyclopedia of Syriac Chants


Pagre(h) Damsiha
Sagdinan Mar
Aramaic Project-21.
Aramaic Project-65 ).
Aramaic Project-101

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
30 July 2021

5:15 June 26 2021 St Jude Syro Malabar Catholic Church, North Virginia , USA
AP 242

Connecting the dots between two complementary concepts - INDIA & CHRISTIANITY

The Aramaic Project (

Excerpts from the Interview on Vatican Radio in 2016. Conversation between Fr. Joseph J. Palackal, CMI and Fr. William Nellikkal at Vatican Radio Studios at Rome, Italy.

Part 58. Fr. William Nellikkal's interview with Dr. Joseph J. Palackal for the Malayalam section of the Vatican Radio. Broadcasted on 8th &9th January, 2016

View Full Video at:
First Interview Part I
First Interview Part II
Second Interview

Keywords - Aramaic Project, Joseph Palackal, William Nellikkal, Vatican Radio


Broadcasted on 9 January 2016

Vatican Radio
AP 241

Syriac East meets Latin West Part 1: Sambah Lesan & Kollan Dasne

The evolution and musical aspects of Syriac Chants: Sambah Lasan ( Praise My Toungue) & Kollan Dasne (Let us all Offer). Excerpts from the Radio Vaticana Interview and Conversation between Dr. Joseph J. Palackal and Fr. William Nellikkal, broadcast on 8th and 9th of January, 2016.

See full interview at Aramaic Project 58 A

Note: This conversation on the Vatican Radio sheds light on the Portuguese (Latin) period in the history of the Syro Malabar Church, starting in the sixteenth century. The conversation is based on two Syriac chants that are translations of Latin chants. The Portuguese missionaries wanted the St. Thomas Christians to shed their Syriac heritage and adapt to the Roman Catholic customs and practices. The St. Thomas Christians, however, were not willing to compromise on their affinity toward the Syriac language. They held on to it as an honor and a privilege to preserve the mother tongue of Jesus. In due course, both parties compromised. The section of the St. Thomas Christians who accepted the ecclesiastical leadership of the missionary bishops adopted such Latin-rite rituals as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Novena to saints, and litanies. Those who knew Latin and Syriac mediated the transition/translation of the text from Latin to Syriac. Instead of adopting the melodies of the source text, the local composers created new melodies to the translated text (see two examples in Aramaic Project 56 and 56 A . Thus, a large body of chants came into being in Kerala in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The conversation on the two Latin chants shows the intersection of music and history in the Christian context of Kerala. Whether we like it or not, these intersections did happen and cannot be erased from memory. It also is a historical witness to the audacity of the St. Thomas Christians to preserve the ancient language. They considered it sacred. In the twentieth century, however, that attitude changes. The Syro Malabar Church decided to give up the Syriac language independently without any coercion from the outsiders. The process started almost ten years before the Second Vatican Council. Ironically, the Syro Malabar Catholics set an example and precedence for the Latin rite. Such contradictions do happen in history. References: Aramaic Project-56. Johny P. David. Aramaic Project-56 A Johny P. David plays Sambah Lesan on Saxaphone. Title and end-credits music: Johny P. David

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
14 July 2021

8:37 Broadcasted on 8th, 9th January 2016 Vatican Radio
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