Aramaic Project No. 130 to 121 - Interviews and Performances - Video List

No. [130] [129] [128] [127] [126] [125] [124] [123] [122] [121]
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Aramaic Project Number Description Duration Date and place of Recording Video

The Creed in five languages, including Syriac.

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Maspeth, New York. 28 April 2019. Fr. Joseph Palackal, CMI and the students of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy of Queens, New York. The occasion was the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Ordination of Fr. Joseph Palackal, CMI.

Note When the Parish decided to celebrate the 40th anniversary of my priestly ordination, I suggested we celebrated with a bilingual Syro Malabar Qurbana. The choir went along with the idea and learned the music that i co-composed with George Thaila. The singers also learned two Syriac chants, Puqdankon and Qandisa alaha. The students of the Academy had already learned to sing the Creed in four different languages. So we added Syriac to the list. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. This was the first time the parishioners of St. Stans got an opportunity to experience mass in an Eastern rite as well as chants in Syriac. The response was very positive.

Joseph Palackal, CMI
New York
27 May 2019



St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Maspeth, New York

28 April 2019


Fr George Appassery, V. C., A passionate admirer of the East Syriac heritage

It was indeed a pleasure to talk to Fr. George Appassery, V. C. who is a passionate lover of the Syriac language and heritage of the Syro Malabar Church. The eighty-year-old Fr. Appassery attributes his interest in the Syriac language to his grandfather, who was a sacristan at his local parish at Bharananganam, in the Eparchy of Pala. In those days, the sacristans had to know the Qurbana and other prayers in Syriac. Very often sacristans were better versed in the language, liturgy, and rituals than the newly ordained priests. Young George would go to church almost every day with his grandfather and observed the grandfather in action and learned the prayers. That association instilled in him a desire to become a priest. He did most of his seminary training in the Latin tradition. All the while George kept his fascination for the Syriac language and sought out every opportunity to learn. During vacation, he would go to St. Joseph’s Seminary at Manglappuzha, Aluva and meet with such great professors as Fr. Mathew Vadakel, a singer, scholar, and composer of Syriac chants who enjoyed celebrity status in the Seminary. In the ensuing years, Fr. Appassery kept his interest in the Syriac liturgical tradition of the Syro Malabar Church and continued to learn from every available source. Currently, Fr. Appassery is enjoying retired life at the Vincentian Seminary at Angamaly and is not hopeful about the survival of the Syriac language among the Syro Malabar Catholics. The Christian Musicological Society is grateful to Joseph Thekkedath Puthenkudy who organized this interview and did the recording on his cell phone.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
9 April 2019

August 17, 2018

Vincentian House,Munnoorpilly,
Ezhattumugham, Ernakulam
128 Benedy Anikkad: Holding on to golden melodies from the Syriac era

Benedy Anikad. a resourceful church musician sings rare melodies from the golden era of Syriac chants. Violin accompaniment by Papootty Master. Recorded on 4 September 2018

We are fortunate to have been able to document yet another highly resourceful Syriac church musician. Benedy Anikad has been on the scene for over sixty years, and continue to sing Syriac chants, albeit occasionally. Significantly, Benedy holds a memory base of a large number of melodies, some of which only he knows. Benedy is a crucial resource person who lived through the transition of the Syro Malabar Church from Syriac to Malayalam. Even after vernacularization, some pastors scheduled Syriac Qurbana on such special occasions as the annual parish feast. The small number of priests, who can celebrate solemn Qurbana, continues to be active along with the small number of church musicians who are capable of accompanying those priests. For the same reason, Benedy and his group of musicians have been relatively active even after the Syriac era.

Benedy is a talented singer. He can remember many melodies from the golden age of Syriac chants in the twentieth century. Some of those melodies became obsolete after 1962. If we did not document them, they would be lost forever. Some of these melodies may not reach the current generation of church musicians. These melodies might remain in the archive as a reference point for future music historians, and also may be a source of inspiration for future composers. In any case, academic institutions that teach music, as well as religion, cannot ignore the existence and significance of these melodies.

Incidentally, Benedy was a participant at the very first recording of the Aramaic Project videos, on Friday 5 July 2013 at Marth Maryam Church at Kuravilangad. This church schedules a solemn Syriac on every first Friday of the month (see Aramaic Project-8). Five years later, we organized another recording at the home of aBenedy’s friend and violinist Papootty Master, on 31 July 2018 (Aramaic Project-138 Part I. ; Aramaic Project-139 Part II). It was a reasonably long recording session, and we could not record all the songs we wanted to. Benedy mentioned that there were many other songs in his memory to they deserve to be documented. We could not organize a recording session before I returned to the USA. Under these circumstances, Kuriachan Palackal, who manages the day-to-day affairs, including the management of the Project office in Kochi, along with our research assistant, Joseph Thekkedath Puthenkudy, volunteered to organize this recording, on 4 September 2018. This time, the recording took place at the drawing-room of the home of Bendy at Anikkad. This room, which also serves as the family prayer room, provided the proper ambiance (see the altar with three statues in the back). We are grateful to Benedy and his team and Kuriachan Palackal and Joseph T. Puthenkudy.

Keywords - Benedy Anikad, Papootty Master, Syriac melodies of the Syro Malabar Church


4 September 2018

Residence of Benedy Ponmalakkunnel, Kottayam


Syriac chants during the Nuptial Qurbana for Abu Alex and Stephy Joy

Note Here is yet another video that instills hope in our minds for the future of the Syriac language in India. Abu Alex, a medical professional, developed interest in the Syriac language during his Higher-Secondary- School days, when he took it as a second language purely for academic reasons. Soon he became aware of the sacrality of the Syriac language and the magical effect of the Syriac melodies. Abu attended, whenever and wherever possible, the celebration of the Syro Malabar Qurbana in Syriac. Abu’s association with Koonammakkal Thoma Kathanar and the Marthoma Nazrani Dayra served as an additional source of inspiration. Fast forward, when the time came for his wedding, Abu took a bold decision to include Syriac chants in the Nuptial Qurbana in Malayalam. His bride, Stephy Joy went along with the idea and supported his decision. Abu received ardent support from the Vicar, Fr. Thomas Kizhakkel who recruited young, enthusiastic singers from the Sunday School. Fr. Thomas Thayyil taught them the chants. Thus, what we see in the video is the result of the concerted efforts of many like-minded people. The video portends many possibilities for the upcoming generation. Abu shows that if we make extra efforts, we can open the lid of Syriac music treasures to the younger generation. and that it is all within their reach. The Christian Musicological Society of India is grateful to Abu Alex and Stephy Joy for granting permission to post this video on our channel. We wish them a happy and long married life.

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Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
15 March, 2019


April 23, 2018

St. Sebastian's Church,Mannakanad, Pala


Syriac chants from the Benediction. Fr. Probus Perumalil, CMI

Note: Fr. Probus Perumalil, CMI (1922-2009) decided to include the hymns of the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the recording he made of Solemn Qurbana in Syriac. Fr. Probus made this recording on a cassette tape recorder, sometime in 1980. These songs were at the end of side B of the cassette (see notes on Aramaic Project-119). This is the earliest audio sample we have of this category of hymns. Thus, this is yet another golden treasure along with the recording of Solemn Qurbana by the same group. The violinist and the harmonist decided to play two incidental melodies on their respective instruments. The Catholic St. Thomas Christians adopted the ritual of the Benediction from the Roman Catholic rite, probably, soon after the Synod of Udayamperoor (1599). Someone in Kerala, who knew both Latin and Syriac, translated the Latin text into Malayalam and composed new melodies for the translated version. Most probably, Bishop Francis Roz, S. J. (1559-1624) was an active participant in this process. The Benediction in Syriac was part of the Sunday liturgy among the Syro Malabar churches, until the 1960s. Currently, Benediction takes place only on special festival occasions. The accompanying chants are in Malayalam. ( Fr. Albert Saldanha, S. J.) included several Syriac tunes (in staff notation with Syriac text underlay in Malayalam script) for the Benediction in his monumental work, “” (Syriac Malayalam Hymnal).

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
7 March, 2019


Year 1980

Recorded on a Cassette Tape recorder at St. Joseph's Monastry Chapel, Mannanam


Fr. Jose Thachil on Inter-ritual life at Mangalappuzha Seminary.

Note: Fr. Jose Thachil shares with us his experience of life at St. Joseph's Seminary at Mangalappuzha, Aluva, in the 1950s. At that time students from such diverse rites as the Latin, Syro Malabar, and Syro Malankara rites lived here and received priestly formation. The students would participate in mass in all three rites. Fr. Thachil recalls that there were no conflicts of interest; rather, the students experienced the universality of the Catholic Church. It did not matter to which rite they belonged; they all knew that they were a part of the one Catholic Church. Fr, Thachil also speaks about the saintliness of the Rector, a foreign missionary priest, the Servant of God, Fr, Aurelian, OCD. Fr. Thachil had the fortune of having the saintly Fr. Aurelian as his spiritual director. Fr. Thachil comes from the family of Thachil Abraham Malpan who happened to spend some years at my native town, Pallippuram. During that time, Palackal Thoma Malpan (1780-1841), my collateral ancestor, became a protege of Thachil Abraham Malpan. After ordination, Thoma Malpan decided to change the format of priestly formation from the indigenous Gurukulam- model to the Western model prevalent in the Latin rite. The Malpan started community living with a specific "regula" (time table). Indirectly, Thoma Malpan was experimenting with religious community life. That experience did contribute to the establishment of the first Religious Congregation for men, at Mannanam, Kerala, in 1831.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
22 February, 2019

July 22, 2014

Vijo Bhavan,
Mangalapuzha Seminary

C.T. Thomas plays incidental melodies from the Syriac era, on his violin

Note: The melodies of the solemn Qurbana of the Syro Malabar Church is a case in point for inter and intracultural communications in Kerala over an extended period. We see in this video several examples of such melodies. The melodies that C. T. Thomas Chavarappuzha plays on violin in this video are not part of the liturgy. The leader of the Syriac choir chose the tunes from such different sources as South Indian classical music, film music or favorite devotional songs. The performance context of the melodies ranges from an overture-like introduction before the Qurbana, distribution of communion, or any period of silence that extends more a minute. The tunes are referred to in Malayalam as “lissam,” which may have derived from two English words “listen” or “lesson.” The performers learn these melodies from their teachers through a trial and error method. The use of notation, Western or Indian, was extremely rare. Each performer has his repertoire of tunes that he cherishes as private property. We are grateful to C. T. Thomas for performing these melodies on his violin. Incidental music during Syriac Qurbana could be a subject matter for further studies. Thomas could not give more details on the melodies. We look forward to comments from informed viewers regarding the sources of these tunes. The tunes do not show resemblances to traditional Syriac melodies from Qurbana or the Hours. Probably, these are secular tunes that the musicians knew and were comfortable to play. Interestingly, this was an example of the interface of the sacred and the secular. Musicians were comfortable with playing secular tunes during Syriac Qurbana. During my stay in England, Dr. Martin Antony decided to introduce me to Fr. Jose Anchanickal who also serves the Syro Malabar immigrant community in the Bristol area. When Fr. Anjanickal came to know about my mission of preserving Syriac music, he mentioned the name of C. T. Thoms who was visiting his son. Fr. Anjanickal immediately contacted the son of Thomas and arranged this recording inside St. Agnes Church.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
6 March, 2019

16 July, 2018

St. Agnes Church,

Bristol, England


B'eda d'yawman (Syriac and Malayalam) at Suriyanippally, Palluruthy

Note: The St. Mary's Church at Palluruthy, in the Eparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly pays homage to its nickname, Suriyanippally (Malayalam, "Syriac Church") by continuing the tradition of singing the Marian hymn, B'eda d'yawman during the parish feast on 8 September, 2018. The video also shows the ritual associated with the performance of this hymn. The altar servers sprinkle flower petals and holy water on the statue of the Blessed Virgin, the celebrant, the processional Cross, and the volunteers. The second part of the video presents the Malayalam version of the chant. Earlier, we posted a video of the performance of the Syriac and Malayalam versions of the song by the children’s choir of this church (see video ). Baby Anamthururthil played the harmonium and directed the choir in that recording. Anamthuruthil also was instrumental in introducing the Malayalam version. It is heartwarming to see the Parish continuing the tradition and passing it on to the next generation.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
18 February 2019

See the text of this song at Encyclopedia of Syriac chants


Sept 05, 2018

St. Mary's Church (Suriyanipally), Pallurthy, Kochi


Fr Cyril Thayyil. Solemn Qurbana in Syriac. Koovappadam, Kochi

Note: Fr. Cyril Thayyil, a young priest from the Eparchy of Pala, a talented singer of Syriac chants, has already made a mark as a celebrant for the Solemn Syriac Qurbana on special occasions. He is among a small number of priests in Kerala, who have mastered the art of singing Syriac chants. CMSIndia has already published several of his recordings. We hope to publish his interview in the near future. The video was recorded live at the Infant Jesus Church at Koovapadam, Kochi. Fr. Anto Chalissery, the vicar, took a special interest in scheduling this Qurbana as part of the celebration of the parish feast. The church belongs to the Arch Eparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly. It is an indication that interest in the Syriac tradition is growing among the clergy in the Syro Malabar Church.

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
16 February 2019

Jan 11, 2019

Infant Jesus Church,
Koovapadam, Kochi




121 Dr Joseph J Palackal, C.M.I., at the AMERICAN LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 35:49

May 31, 2018

American Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

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