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Eagle Flying

The Divine Liturgy
An American Experience in God

Music for
The Divine Liturgy
of St. John Chrysostom
Compiled and Produced by
John David Finley

Avery Ready Index 31 Tab for Divine Liturgy docx 
The Complete Work
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Becky Hoffman
Erin Bonski
Jan Finley

Holly Hoffman (Co-Producer)
Andria Bargiel
Brian Bargiel
Myron Ag
Mark Carrillo
Matt Evans
Rehearsal Pianists
Pascal Salomon
Erin Bonski
John David Finley

For Cal

Recorded January 29, 2023, in Santa Barbara, CA 

by Barbara Hirsch,

at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church

Special thanks to Fr. Haralambos (Bob) Fox and members of St. Barbara Church

Panagia Paramythia.webp

Program Notes 

Beach Spring Hymn Tune
Beach Spring is a pentatonic American hymn tune attributed to Benjamin Franklin White (1800-1879) and first published in his "The Sacred Harp" shape-note collection of 1844.

BF White.png

The derivative works of the Great Litany, the First Antiphon, the Little Litanies, the Second Antiphon, Only Begotten Son, and the Little Entrance Hymn were adapted to these liturgical texts based on the Beach Spring Hymn Tune.


The Sacred Harp, compiled by Benjamin F. White and Elisha J. King in 1844, was a shape note hymnbook, which captured an American singing tradition already more than a century old. At the same time, it marked the beginning of a singing tradition that is now world-wide in scope. Sacred Harp singing is a tradition of sacred choral music that originated in New England and was later perpetuated and carried on in the American South. Sacred Harp music is performed a cappella (voice only, without instruments).

First Publication date and place: 1844 by S. C. Collins in Philadelphia. In revised form, the book continues to be popular among singers to this day.

Benjamin Franklin White (September 20, 1800 – December 5, 1879) was born near Cross Keys in Union County, South Carolina, the twelfth child of Robert and Mildred White. Elisha James King (1821-1844) was, with B. F. White, the compiler of The Sacred Harp. 

The text of the hymn Only Begotten Son (Ὁ Μονογενὴς Υἱὸς) is believed to have been written by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527–565 A.D.). The holy right-believing sovereign Emperor Justinian devoted much attention and effort to the struggle with Origenists of his time, who then were reviving the Nestorian heresy. To counter their heretical speculations, the Church hymn "Only Begotten Son" was composed. This hymn has been sung in the Divine Liturgy (after the second Antiphon) from that time to the present day.

Prospect Hymn Tune
Prospect - also known among folksingers and chanteymen as "The Seaman's Hymn", is a pentatonic American hymn tune collected by William Walker (1809-1875) and published in his "The Southern Harmony" shape-note collection of 1835. Walker attributed the tune to the composer "Graham" for whom no biographical information is available. 

William Walker.png

The derivative work of the Trisagion Hymn, together with the Hierarchical Trisagion Hymn and the Alleluia before the Gospel were adapted to these liturgical texts based on the Prospect Hymn Tune from Walker’s The Southern Harmony (1835) and the harmonization of Stephen Paulus (1949-2014) as it appears in the choral setting of The Road Home. 


The Southern Harmony, (also known as Walker’s Southern Harmony) is a shape note hymn and tune book compiled by William Walker, first published in 1835. The book is notable for having originated or popularized several hymn tunes found in modern hymnals and shape note collections like The Sacred Harp.

William Walker (May 6, 1809 – September 24, 1875) was an American Baptist song leader, shape note "singing master", and compiler of four shape note tune books, most notable of which are the influential The Southern Harmony and the Christian Harmony, which has been in continuous use (republished 2010). Walker was born in Martin's Mills (near Cross Keys), South Carolina, and grew up near Spartanburg. From an early age he became deeply involved in music and became a song leader in the Baptist church. To distinguish him from other William Walkers in Spartanburg, he was nicknamed Singing Billy. 


Stephen Paulus (August 24, 1949 – October 19, 2014) was a Grammy winning composer, best known for his operas and choral music. His style is essentially tonal, and melodic and romantic by nature. Paulus was a passionate advocate for the works and careers of his colleagues. He co-founded the American Composers Forum in 1973 and served as the Symphony and Concert Representative on the ASCAP Board of Directors from 1990 until his death in 2014.

Ave Maria by Franz Biebl
This derivative work sets the Cherubic Hymn of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom to sections of the Ave Maria, set mostly in 4-part harmony, but making use of 5-part harmony in certain parts to approximate the harmonic chords in Biebl’s 7-part version.


Franz Xaver Biebl (1 September 1906 – 2 October 2001) was a German composer of classical music. Most of his compositions were for choral ensembles.

Biebl was born in Pursruck, now part of Freudenberg, Bavaria, in 1906. He studied composition at the Musikhochschule in Munich. Biebl served as choir director at the Catholic church of St Maria in München-Thalkirchen from 1932 until 1939, and as an assistant professor of choral music at the Mozarteum, an academy of music in Salzburg, Austria, beginning in 1939, where he taught voice and music theory.

Biebl was drafted into the military beginning in 1943 during World War II. He was a prisoner of war from 1944 to 1946, being detained at Fort Custer in Battle Creek, Michigan. After the war, he moved from Austria to Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany, where he served as director of the town chorus. 

As organist/choirmaster and teacher in the Fürstenfeldbruck parish near Munich Biebl had in his church choir a fireman. It was common for companies, factories, police and fire departments, etc. to sponsor an employees' choir, which often would participate in choral competitions and festivals with other similar choirs. This fireman asked Biebl to please compose something for his fireman's choir for such an occasion. The result was the Ave Maria (double male choir version) - Biebl's best-known work originally scored for male voices (TTB/TTBB). He set portions of the Angelus as well as the Ave Maria. The piece was composed sometime before 1 May 1959. The original composition was in the key of D major but changed to C major when it was published by Wildt’s Musikverlag in 1964. 


The piece was brought to the United States by the Cornell University Glee Club in 1970. The ensemble met Biebl while on tour in Germany, during a recording session at a radio network where Biebl was music director. Conductor Thomas A. Sokol was given a number of Biebl's works, premiering them after returning home. The Ave Maria quickly gained popularity, most notably after becoming part of the repertoire of Chanticleer. 


In 1985 Biebl prepared additional arrangements for SAT/SATB and SAA/TTBB choirs. In 1998, Biebl prepared a fourth arrangement for SSA/SSAA choir (which was adapted for this setting of the Cherubic Hymn). As part of the Hinshaw Music, Inc. sheet music catalog, the four versions have sold over 670,000 copies between 1992 and 2016. 


Restoration (Arise) Hymn Tune
RESTORATION is an anonymous American folk melody. Set to "Mercy, O Thou Son of David," the tune was published in William Walker's Southern Harmony (1835) with the title RESTORATION. Its name was changed to ARISE (after the refrain in the ballad about the prodigal son) when it was set to the hymn text “Come ye sinners, poor and needy by Joseph Hart (1759) with the anonymous refrain “I will arise and go to Jesus.” Like many folk tunes, RESTORATION is pentatonic American Hymn Tune and could be sung in two-part canon (at one measure), but then the accompaniment or harmony would not be used. 

Tonus Americanus
Tonus Americanus is perhaps a whimsical descriptor for
Monk Martin Gardner’s “American Tone.” Fr. Martin’s 3-part setting of the Lord’s Prayer was arranged in 4-parts for inclusion in this work. Fr. Martin is a monk at the All-Merciful Savior Monastery located on Vashon Island in the Seattle/Tacoma, WA area.

Eastern Orthodox Monk.jpg

I Love the Lord
This derivative work sets the Responses After the Lord’s Prayer, The Communion Hymn “Praise Ye the Lord”, and the Refrain Before People’s Communion, to the Gospel Song I Love the Lord by Richard Smallwood (words by Isaac Watts) as arranged by Lloyd Larson.

Richard Smallwood (born November 30, 1948, in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American gospel artist who formed The Richard Smallwood Singers in 1977 in Washington, DC and has received numerous Grammy, Stellar & NAACP Image Award Nominations. Among Smallwood's most popular songs are "Total Praise", composed in 1996 while he was experiencing sorrow in his life, and "I Love the Lord", popularized by singer Whitney Houston in the film, The Preacher's Wife.


Lloyd Larson (b. 1954) is a native of Illinois. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Anderson University in Anderson, IN, and his Master of Church Music from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, with an emphasis in piano and composition. He has previously served as Minister of Music for churches in Indiana and Ohio. He is currently a free-lance composer/arranger residing in the Minneapolis, MN, metropolitan area.

Ada Hymn Tune
The Hymn Tune “Ada” was composed by Aubrey Lee (A.L.) Butler, b. 1933. Although composed in 1967, this hymn tune is reminiscent of the melodies of the Sacred Harp and Walker’s Southern Harmony, but with a more contemporary harmonization.

A.L. “Pete” Butler is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University (B.M.), Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, MO, with an honorary Doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lousville, KY (Hon. D.C.M.), He served as Minister of Music at the First Baptist Church in Ada, OK (for which the hymn tune is named), and a retired Professor of Church Music from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. Butler’s published works include children's and adult anthems and hymn tunes.



A transcribed excerpt from Fr. Roman Braga speaking in 1995 at St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church, Franklin TN USA
Fr. Roman Braga speaking in 1995 at St. Ignatius, Franklin TN USA -  YouTube

Orthodoxy is to find Christ in ourselves…You became Orthodox. You didn’t find Orthodoxy individually. If you think that you came just by yourself to Orthodoxy, you are still Protestant. Orthodoxy is the experience of peoples in God, not of individuals.


First of all, you came back in Church, and don’t think that you’re saved without thinking about others. In an organism, as St. Paul says, if you cut off your little finger, the whole organism is suffering. The same thing, salvation is communal; it’s not individual.

And you come in the Orthodox Church in America, not to become Syrians, not to become Romanians, don’t become Russians or Bulgarians. Be yourself, American. Otherwise, God doesn’t accept your experience, because You have a tradition, you have a background that is given by God. God made me to be born in the Carpathian Mountains; I cannot be other. For me, Orthodoxy is the experience of the Romanian peoples in the Church. We come into the church, not as isolated individuals; we come with our families, with our nation, with our culture. Sanctify and transfigure your culture. There are many good things in this country. Be good patriots.

Orthodoxy today is accused of being chauvinistic, and Nazi, and nationalistic. It’s not true. But you cannot be Orthodox without your history. If you study better St. Maximos the Confessor, it’s a very difficult holy father, he thinks that we are in a structure like concentric circles. The first circle (the little one) is the individual, which is a person, not an individual. An individual is something isolated, a person is somebody who lives in community. And the individual (person) is included in family. The family is a church. We save our soul in the church and in the family. The family is included in your culture; in your cultural background - in your ethnicity, so to say; in your history. And that ethnicity is included in another circle that is, the Church, the universal Church. And the last circle or sphere is God. If it doesn’t develop in this structure, we don’t reach God, because God doesn’t need me as an isolated person who is nobody. If I come to God I come with my family, with my history, with my identity. God wants persons. 

Christianity is a very personal religion. When Jesus Christ said, if you don’t deny yourself, you are not worthy to follow Me. If you want to follow me, deny yourself, because if you want to save your soul, you will lose it, but if you lose your soul for me and the Gospel, you will save it. This is not a double standard here.


Here, we are false personalities, because we are not authentic personalities. To be an authentic personality, be yourself. You have an identity behind you; you have a culture behind you, you have a country – you have a place in which God wanted you to be born. And that nation or country in which you are born has a history. You have to come into Orthodoxy with the whole destiny of the American people, because they have to find Christ and to be saved. Even if you are a minority, you can be just one person, but you come with the destiny of your people in Orthodoxy. That is Orthodoxy; it’s the experience of peoples in God, not of isolated individuals.

I don’t know if you understand that…be yourself, be an American Orthodox Church, not a Syrian Orthodox Church. It is natural that Orthodoxy in America will become an American Orthodox Church through you, not through me. We are born in our own countries, we have our own background, our own identity, but you have to come with your own identity, and with the destiny of this country, because there is a goal which this country has to reach. If you read in Prophet Daniel Chapter 10, every nation has an angel; the angel of the Egyptian people, it says there, the angel of the Hebrew people is Michael, the archangel, and so on. Who is the angel of the American people? Well, we have to think about that.

This nation is not just at random; it has a history, and never, never hate the religion that you came from; always to thank God for my Baptist Church, my Evangelical Church, that made me to understand Orthodoxy and to come back to Church. Thank God, because the basics were there, and the fact that you were sincere in that denomination in which you were before, that is important because the Holy Spirit brought you home. Thank God for my Presbyterian Church that made me to understand Orthodoxy, and pray for them, and you have to wish for them to find the Church, no matter how many you are; maybe you will be a minority. You never are in a minority if you are with the truth. If you are with the Truth, even if you are one, you are a majority.


So, come with the whole American history and the perspective of the salvation of the American people here. And you pray for the salvation of the American people of which you are included. So, we don’t want you now to borrow things from Russia, or from Romania, or from Syria, or from Greece. No! Be yourself. God wants you to be yourself. 


When God said if you save your soul, you will lose it - there are two kinds of personalities here: one is authentic and one is a false personality. Our false identity, or false personality is that we don’t want to be ourselves, we are something according to TV, or imitating other things here. This world is a huge stage in which we perform, we don’t live, we perform because we want to have a tie like that guy, and we look on TV; to watch to have that haircut, and so on… No! If you want to save this false personality, you will lose the other one, you will lose the true personality, you lose your soul.

But if you sacrifice this, to lose what is false in you for the Gospel and Christ, you will save the true personality. So, we have to be true, to be ourselves, to have our identity, to come to God following that structure: person, family, ethnical group, Church, God – these concentric spheres or circles. If we don’t develop in this structure, we are not ourselves, we are not even Orthodox.

There may be a tendency to interpret these words (1995) from Fr. Roman in the context of a parish of the Evangelical Orthodox Church which was received into the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in 1987, in which many, perhaps even Fr. Roman, were caught up in the excitement of a multitude of former Evangelical/Protestant Christians becoming Orthodox Christians, and as a result, the implications for the future development of the Orthodox Church on the North American continent. However, Fr. Roman was saying similar things to the nuns of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration while he was the assigned priest and spiritual father at the monastery from 1983 to 1988.

To offer a little background, the monastic tradition of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania comes from three influential sources: First, with Mother Alexandra, Abbess and founder of the monastery in 1967, second, with Mother Benedicta, the second Abbess of the monastery who came with two other nuns from Romania in 1978 to help Mother Alexandra. What follows is from the article: A Monastic Call to Holiness, “Life Transfigured”, A Journal of Orthodox Nuns, Volume 54 #3, Nativity 2022

“The third major influence on our monastic ethos was Fr. Roman Braga, the brother of Mother Benedicta. He was the spiritual father at our monastery for several years. Fr. Roman encouraged us to have a truly American monastery from various traditions of American Orthodoxy. This is expressed today most openly in our services where we use the music from Greek, Antiochian, Romanian and Slavic chant traditions as well as new music from contemporary Orthodox composers.

“Fr. Roman also made sure that we knew that nuns were not formed by cookie cutters - we are not uniform robots. We are all unique with different strengths and weaknesses. We do not all have the same obediences or pray the same prayer rule. He encouraged us in a simple, yet profound way, to have a daily conversation with God and continue to grow in our love for Christ in all the little things set before us each day.”



The Divine Liturgy
An American Experience In God 

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