Byzantine Rites 4

By Laura Steenberge


“Byzantine has two definitions: “relating to Byzantium,” and “excessively complicated.” This collection of pieces sits between the two. The work emerges from a research project on Byzantine chant that was centered on medieval settings of the Cherubic Hymn. The Cherubic Hymn, beginning “we who mystically represent the cherubim,” is sung during a procession of clergy carrying ceremonial fans that represent the cherubim and the seraphim, two classes of angels. The cherubim have four wings and four heads: lion, bull, eagle and man. The seraphim have six wings and call back and forth to each other. It is said that the reverberant domes of the Byzantine churches made the music sound as though the choirs of angels were joining in the singing of the mortals.” —Laura Steenberge