Miklós Mohay | Saint Ephraim Male Choir LITURGY OF ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

BMCCD348 2024

For the first time in 100 years, the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom has been set to music for male choir in its entirety by a Hungarian composer. The spirituality, drama, and theological content of the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine rite have inspired composers for centuries. Thousands of composers, both famous and anonymous, have tried to put the liturgical text to music and grasp its mystical essence, including great predecessors such as Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, and Rachmaninov.
Miklós Mohay has a keen interest in the ecclesiastical art of the Byzantine rite. When composing the Liturgy, he was inspired by both sacred melodies and contemporary music, which he often encountered in performances by the St. Ephraim Male Choir – to whom the piece is dedicated. Mohay intended the large-scale composition in Church Slavonic for a liturgical setting, so the complete 20-movement work is heard in “quasi” liturgical form on the double album, with the addition of the deacon’s and priest’s chants and intonations of the Greek Catholic tradition.
The St. Ephraim Male Choir is among the most respected experts of Greek Catholic sacred music worldwide, but their work also extends to the oeuvre of outstanding composers in Western music history and contemporary music. In the 21 years of its existence, the ensemble has sung and performed many Eastern liturgies and Western masses. In the past decade and a half, BMC Records has released ten albums with the ensemble. 



Artistic directors: Tamás Bubnó and Lőrinc Bubnó
Edgár Balázs, Viktor Papp, Tamás Bubnó, Lőrinc Bubnó – tenor
Márk Bubnó, Marcell Oláh – baritone
Ambrus Rácz, Péter Tóth – bass

About the album

Recorded by Lőrinc Bubnó at ISON, Budapest between March and August, 2023
Mixed and mastered by Lőrinc Bubnó

Artwork: Anna Natter / Cinniature

Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár

Supported by National Rusyn Minority Self-government of Hungary, Vera Giricz – Spokesperson of Rusyn
Minority in the Hungarian Parliament, Foundation for Rusyns, Rusyn Minority Self-government of Vác,
Evelin & Sándor Szkiba

4500 HUF 14 EUR

Miklós Mohay | Saint Ephraim Male Choir: Liturgy of St John Chrysostom CD1

01 Litany of Peace 4:25
02 Blessed the Lord, O my soul 4:51
03 Praise the Lord, O my soul 3:16
04 O Only-begotten Son and Word of God 3:41
05 Beatitudes 4:40
06 O come, let us worship 2:53
07 Trisagion 6:03
08 Cherubic Hymn 5:49
09 Litany of Supplication 3:53
10 Creed 6:04
Total time CD1 45:40, CD2 39:37

Miklós Mohay | Saint Ephraim Male Choir: Liturgy of St John Chrysostom CD2

01 Anaphora 6:25
02 We praise Thee 2:47
03 Truly it is worthy to bless Thee 7:20
04 Lord’s prayer 4:33
05 One is Holy 1:22
06 Praise the Lord in Heaven 3:44
07 Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord 3:57
08 Let our mouth be fulfilled 6:13
09 Blessed be the name of the Lord 0:44
10 Dismissal and For many years 2:26
Total time CD1 45:40, CD2 39:37

The album is available in digital form at our retail partners

The Rusyn community in Hungary was delighted to learn that a Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in Church Slavonic had been composed by contemporary composer Miklós Mohay, ordinary member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts, and professor and head of music theory department at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest. His work was inspired by the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in Church Slavonic by János Boksay, composed 100 years ago. The composer has dedicated the liturgy to the Saint Ephraim Choir and its founder, Tamás Bubnó.
János Boksay was the music officer for the Diocese of Munkács, and conductor of the Greek Catholic Cathedral in Ungvár and the Metropolitan Mixed Choir of Ungvár, who as the rector of Huszt was the spiritual mentor to Tódor Romzsa (Theodore Romzha, a martyr bishop who was beatified more than twenty years ago), and who at the end of his life, as a delegate of the Rusyn National Council, was the representative for Subcarpathia in the Hungarian Parliament, and a figure of pride for the Greek Catholic Rusyn community in Hungary.
Through supporting the production of CDs of the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in Church Slavonic in 2004, 2021, and this year, the community of Rusyns in Hungary contributes to preserving the intellectual and religious values of our people.

Vera Giricz
Spokesperson for the Rusyn community, Hungarian Parliament

Viktor Kramarenko
President, Nationwide Rusyn Self-government of Hungary

Ecclesiastical art from the Byzantine rite has interested me since I was a young man. I was fond of poring over icons, I liked the means of expression, the world of colour, and the spirituality it conveyed to me. Not long afterwards, I began to get to know the liturgical compositions of Russian and Ukrainian composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Bortnianksy, Tchaikovsky, and Glazunov. It was around this time I first came across Tarkovsky’s film Andrei Rublev, which moved me most deeply. I was also interested in Church Slavonic. I was particularly captivated by Rachmaninoff’s two large choral cycles, the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and the All-night Vigil. Many years passed before I dared imagine that I might compose such a piece myself. Meanwhile, I was deeply influenced by other things: I heard recordings of the liturgies for mixed voices by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and later that for male voices by János Boksay (the latter performed by the Saint Ephraim choir), and gradually I began to study the scores too. At concerts by the Saint Ephraim Male Choir, I have heard many Oriental, Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic melodies and arrangements, and works by contemporary composers of many nationalities. It was then I decided to write my own Liturgy. Since I knew the ensemble well (and I had known Tamás Bubnó for even longer), it was obvious that I would compose the piece for them and dedicate it to them.
I envisaged the work not as a concert piece, but to be sung as part of the liturgy, so throughout I attempted to restrict myself to the time limits set by the liturgy. In this, my great predecessors were of assistance. Naturally, I set only the parts to be sung by the choir, leaving the texts for the priest and the deacon untouched. The work consists of twenty movements in Church Slavonic, and I completed it in 2018. The piece does not contain any borrowed melodies; I have tried to shape the musical material based on the choral writing of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, combined with a kind of exalted, ecclesiastical style.
The premiere of the work within a Greek Catholic liturgy was in December 2020 in Budapest. Later, I found out that this was the first complete Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom written since that by János Boksay 100 years ago.

Miklós Mohay

Saint John Chrysostom (398-404) is one of the most respected theologians, teachers, and preachers of the Eastern Church, who was known by the epithet “chrysostomos” (golden-mouthed) due to his gift of eloquence. He was the Archbishop of Constantinople from 398 to 404. In the Eastern Church, the most frequently sung Divine Liturgy is known by his name, and its function is equivalent to that of the Holy Mass in the Western Church.
The spirituality, drama, and theological content of the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite has inspired composers for many centuries. Thousands of composers, both named and unnamed, have fashioned a musical garb for this liturgical text, trying to grasp its mystical essence. The great genius Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote in a letter to his friend Nadezhda von Meck: “The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is one of the most dramatic works of art ever to come into being in this world…” 
The musical shaping of the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom has posed many dilemmas for composers of all ages. Perhaps the most important of them is to what extent they recognize the limitations of musical (self)-realization, for in the liturgy the music is secondary to the nature of the act of worship as a “total artwork”: it should not dominate or be exclusive. Rather, it should assist and serve the liturgy.
Over the twenty-one years of the Saint Ephraim Male Choir, it has sung and performed many Eastern divine liturgies and Western holy masses. Its very existence is for this reason: the purpose it was founded in 2002 was to perform and record the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, written by the priest-composer János Boksay, an important figure in the Hungarian and Rusyn Greek Catholic community.
This CD contains a work by contemporary composer Miklós Mohay, dedicated to the Saint Ephraim Male Choir and its founder Tamás Bubnó, a work the performers are very proud of. It is a large-scale, well-thought-out composition, which grasps the message of the liturgy and aims to convey it. After a long, intensive period spent learning the work, the choir premiered it as part of the divine liturgy celebrated by Father András Dobos, on 12 December 2020. Mohay and Bubnó have for years nurtured a friendly working relationship, so the founder of the Saint Ephraim Male Choir was most pleased to learn that the composer was writing a 4-8 part complete Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in Church Slavonic. Already during the process of preparing for the premiere, the idea of releasing it on CD arose. With effective support from the Rusyn community and organizations in Hungary, this has now been realized.
This recording consists of the entire twenty-movement work by Mohay in a “quasi” liturgical form: complemented with the deacon’s and priest’s chants and intonations from the Greek Catholic tradition. The former are sung by Tamás Bubnó, the latter by Viktor Papp; both are members of the Saint Ephraim Male Choir.

Tamás Bubnó
Translated by Richard Robinson

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