a long abandoned Christmas liturgical ceremony
On December 19, 2014, the “Trithekti”, a long abandoned Christmas liturgical ceremony, took place at the Church of Transfiguration in Volos, attended by numerous clergy and laity of the city. The event was organized by the Municipality of Volos (Department of Culture, directed by ChryssaDrantaki) and the Volos Academy for Theological Studies (Department of Psaltic Art andMusicology, directed by Konstantinos Karagounis). The service, which was led by Metropolitan of Demetrias and Almyros Ignatius, with the participation of the Chanting Choir “Trikis Melodoi”(from Trikala, Greece under the leadership of Professor Dimitrios Balageorgos) and the ChantingChoir of the Volos Chanters Association (directed by Professor Konstantinos Karagounis).
The ceremony was prefaced with a brief speech by Prof. Karagounis (Supreme Ecclesiastical Academy of Athens), Director of the Department of Psaltic Art, who pointed out that one year afterthe its first official manifestation, the Department has already published two well-received books, has organized an international musicological conference (in summer 2014) and has twenty participations in musicological conferences in Greece and abroad, while a lot of programming is going on for the future.
This introduction was followed by a lecture on the Byzantine rites by Prof. DimitriosBalageorgos (University of Athens). In his speech, Prof. Balageorgos described briefly but clearly theevolution of the Rites through the centuries, explaining the meaning and content of the secular (non-monastic) Rite, the so-called Asmatiki Akolouthia, and the reasons that led to its decline and abandonment after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The text of the Trithekti was discovered andpublished by the late Prof. Ioannis Fountoulis (University of Thessaloniki), while its restoration forliturgical use and the musical re-composition was elaborated by the Prof. Gregorios Stathis (University of Athens), with the approval of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, in 1999. Since then, this service is celebrated every year in some Dioceses in Greece and all over the world.
During the service of the Trithekti, Metropolitan Ignatius recited the complete 6th century Christmas kontakion “The Virgin today is giving birth to the Super-essence …” , which, with the exception of the well-known opening hymn, is also an abandoned poem, very rarely performed in its entirety in contemporary churches. At the end of the service, Metropolitan Ignatius thanked andblessed the clergy, the faithful people, the choirs and the Municipality, while he underlined the significance of the work done in the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, which recently was awarded the status of a National Research Center.