Irmologion (Greek: heirmologion) is a liturgical book of the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite. It contains irmoi ( ) organised in sequences of odes ( ?, sg. ? )and such a sequence was called canon (? "law"). These canons of nine, eight, four or three odes are supposed to be chanted during the morning service (Orthros). The book Irmologion derives from heirmos (? ) which means "link". The irmos is a melodic model which preceded the composition of the odes. According to the etymology, the book "collects" ( logeu?) the irmoi.
The melodic irmos and the odes of the canon and its use during the morning service
An important portion of Matins and other services in the Orthodox Church is the canon, a long liturgical poem divided into nine strophes with a sophisticated meter called ode. Each ode and its prosodic meter is made according to a certain irmos, and concerning its celebration during Orthros it is followed by troparia. Sometimes certain longer irmoi are sung which are called katabasiai because of their descending melos. The troparia sung with the canon are performed out of a textbook (Reader,Menaion) according to avtomela, but the irmoi and katabasiae are chanted by the choir according to irmoi. Since the Irmologion was invented as a chant book provided with musical notation, it only contained the smaller number of heirmoi with those texts which identified them. The other canons and akrosticha were usually collected in a separated text book, and the incipit of a certain heirmos or, in case of troparia the avtomela, indicated the melody which had to be applied for the recitation of the hymns.
Since the Byzantine period, there already developed a soloistic kalophonic way to perform just one certain ode during more important religious feast, if the celebration took more time than usual, but the genre became even more popular and innovative during the Ottoman period following the example of Balasios the Priest. The printed edition of the kalophonic irmologion (1835) is dominated by Ottoman era composers like Chrysaphes the Younger, Germanos of New Patras, Balasios, and later generations like Petros Bereketis and even later the hyphos school founded by Panagiotes Halaco?lu and his followers at the New Music School of the Patriarchate (Daniel the Protopsaltes, Petros Peloponnesios, Georgios of Crete).
Composition of the Irmologion and of the Orthros Anthology
Echos devteros part with first ode settings (OdO) of a Greek Heirmologion with Coislin notation as palimpsest over pages of a former tropologion (ET-MSsc Ms. Gr. 929, ff. 17v-18r)
Within the Irmologion, the new chant book of the Stoudites' reform, the irmoi are usually arranged according to the eight tones of Byzantine chant either according to the odes (order of the odes, OdO, divided into eight parts according to the echoi, but within each echos all odes are ordered beginning with all first odes of each canon, all second or third odes etc.) or according to the canon (canon order, KaO, divided into eight parts according to the echoi, but the odes within each echos are organised according to the canon of each irmos). As example for the ode order (OdO), one might study the earlier Irmologia of the Greek collection at the library of Saint Catherine's Monastery at the food of Mount Sinai: the manuscripts 929 and 1258 are organised, that the first, second, third, etc. odes are together. Since the second ode is only sung during Lent, there were much less second odes than first or third odes. As example for the canon order (KaO), one might study the later manuscripts of the same collection such as Ms. 1256 and the first half of 1257. Here each ode has an ode number, such as for the first ode, usually followed by a modal signature corresponding to the echos section. The next ode is mostly for the third ode, because according to the more common canon the second one is left out. Thus, one canon follows the preceding one until the order is fulfilled. These canons usually follow within each echos section according to the calendaric order. There is no real chronology between both orders, both existed already in the oldest Irmologia and they persisted until the current print editions.
Concerning the Slavonic reception, first by Cyril and Methodius' students around Clement of Ohrid, the translators did not very close translations of the Greek hymns, they rather tried to preserve the sophisticated system of the melodic models such as avtomela and irmoi without changing the melodies. Within Slavonic manuscripts, the separation between Irmolog and the Oktoich and other books of the sticherarion was less common, usually the Oktoich books were so voluminous, since they included the irmoi (similar to the composition of the older tropologia which persisted until the 12th century), that they were separated into two volumes--one for Glas I-IV (the authentic modes) and a second for Glas V-VIII (the plagal modes).
Today the Irmologion is often replaced by another chant book which is called "Anthology of the Orthros" ( or ?) which replaced the earlier Akolouthiai used since the 14th century. Some of these Anthologies do also contain the odes of the canon, but also many other hymns of the Psalterion (especially the more elaborated compositions the Polyeleos psalms) and of the book Octoechos which are sung during the morning service (Orthros, Utrenna). Already Codex sinaiticus graecus 1257 dating back to 1332, has a second part dedicated to the recitation of psalm verses (psalmody) during Orthros and Hesperinos, including the Polyeleoi.
These additional hymns sung during Orthros are:
Antiphons () which should not be confused with the Latin Antiphon (even if they are often reduced today to a few short troparia which were once sung as a refrain), since it is a rather elaborated form, usually organised in three sections (they usually follow the Great Ectenia at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy and of the Orthros)
The oldest manuscripts which contained canons, were tropologia which are composed according to a calendaric order. There were also types like the Georgian Iadgari and the Armenian ?araknoc'. The book Irmologion was created later as a notated chant book by the reformers at the Stoudios Monastery, although not all Irmologia have musical notation. Concerning the traditional repertoire of these books, a Studites edition can be distinguished from the one at Sinai. The earliest notated Irmologion can be dated back to the 10th century in Byzantium. A full version of the Russian Irmologion, in Church Slavonic includes about 1050 irmoi. Earlier examples provided only the written text; later, the "hooks" and "banners" of Znamenny Chant were added above the text. The first printed edition of a notated Irmologion in Russia,the Irmologiy notnago peniya, using neumes (square notes) on a staff, was published in 1772. Today, most Russian Irmologia are printed using modern musical notation (with the exception of some Old Believer communities, which continue to use the older znamenny neumes), although elsewhere, Byzantine musical notation is nearly universally used.
^The irmos is a melodic model which was used for the composition of the odes. As homiletic poetry it refers thematically to the biblical odes, with exception of the second ode which is no longer sung today. According to medieval Irmologia this second ode was only sung during Lenten tide.
^It is possible to identify the texts with the repertory of avtomela and irmoi made by the friends of music in Constantinople, at least as far as these texts are still in use until the present day.
^See Dagmar Christian's edition of the hymns of December (2001).
^See Jørgen Raasted's study (1969) of the oldest papyrus fragments of the tropologion.
^Todorov's Bulgarian edition (1992) includes a Bulgarian version of Petros Peloponnesios' Katavasies in calendaric order, the troparia have to be sung from a textbook Miney, while other Anthologies (Phokaeos 1978, Sarafov 1912) have to be used in combination with an Irmologion (Chourmouzios 1825).
^The Russian translation into Old Church Slavonic (?kolnik 1994) can be distinct from the earlier one at Ohrid, that the latter tried not to change the irmoi, but thus, a litterate translation of the hymns was not possible (Dagmar 2001).
Middle Byzantine and znamenny notation (13th to 19th centuries)
"Sinai, Saint Catherine's Monastery, Ms. Gr. 1258". Incomplete Greek Heirmologion in ode order (OdO, starts with the eighth odes of echos devteros, the notated part finishes at f. 144v, it follows an appendix with later additions) with Middle Byzantine notation (1257).
"London, British Library, Ms. Add. 39611". Heirmologion mostly in canon order (KaO without first section of Heirmoi in echos protos) written near Saint Catherine's monastery (17th century). British Library.
Germanos Hieromonachos; Panagiotes the New Chrysaphes; Petros Bereketes; Anastasios Skete; Balasios Iereos; Petros Peloponnesios; Petros Byzantios. "Athens, ? (), MIET, Ms. Pezarou 15, fol. 220v-229r". Heirmologion kalophonikon in an Anthologia of Psaltic Art (late 18th century). Athens: ? . Retrieved 2012.
Christians, Dagmar, ed. (2001). Die Notation von Stichera und Kanones im Gottesdienstmenäum für den Monat Dezember nach der Hs. GIM Sin. 162: Verzeichnis der Musterstrophen und ihrer Neumenstruktur. Patristica Slavica. 9. Wiesbaden: Westdt. Verl. ISBN3-531-05129-6.
Frøyshov, Stig Simeon R. (2012). "The Georgian Witness to the Jerusalem Liturgy: New Sources and Studies". In Bert Groen, Stefanos Alexopoulos, Steven Hawkes-Teeples (eds.). Inquiries into Eastern Christian Worship: Selected Papers of the Second International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy (Rome, 17-21 September 2008). Eastern Christian Studies. 12. Leuven, Paris, Walpole: Peeters. pp. 227-267.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
Harris, Simon (2004). "The 'Kanon' and the Heirmologion". Music & Letters. 85: 175-197. JSTOR3526092.
Martani, Sandra (2013). "Koukouzeles' Heirmologia: The Manuscripts St Petersburg 121 and Sinai gr. 1256". In Gerda Wolfram, C Troelsgård (eds.). Tradition and Innovation in Late Byzantine and Postbyzantine Liturgical Chant II: Proceedings of the Congress held at Hernen Castle, the Netherlands, 30 October - 3 November 2008. Eastern Christian Studies. 17. Leuven, Paris, Walpole: Peeters. pp. 135-150. ISBN9042920157.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)