KRISDOSI METCH-ARMENIAN HOLY MASS-KOMITAS VARTABED
THE HYMN OF THE KISS OF PEACE
(Part of the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, initiated by the Celebrant and passed on to the faithful, in ancient Armenian language)
Greet ye one another with a holy kiss.
And ye that are not able to partake of this divine mystery
And have gone without the doors, pray.
Christ in our midst hath been revealed;
He Who Is God is here seated.
The voice of peace hath resounded;
Holy greeting hath been enjoined.
The Church is made as one person
This kiss given as bond of fullness.
The enmity hath been removed;
And love is spread over us all.
Now, ministers, raising your voice,
Give you blessings with one accord,
To the consubstantial Godhead,
For whom seraphs sing the Holies.
-Christ is revealed.
-Blessed be the revelation of Christ.
GOMIDAS VARTABED or KOMITAS (1869-1935)
One of the most renowned armenian churchmen and musician of modern times was Gomidas Vartabed, also known as Komitas and recognized as “the father of modern armenian music”. He was born Soghomon Soghomonian in Keutahya, Asia Minor in 1869. His life had an interesting turn of events, when at the age of eleven, he was orphaned, and at a young age he was sent to a Seminary in Etchmiadzin to study. Because of his singing prowess, he decided to teach music at the Seminary after he completed his studies. In 1896, Soghomon was ordained a monk or “Apegha” of the Armenian Apostolic Church. A few years later he was ordained a “Vartabed”, and as is the practice in the Armenian Church, assumed his new name “Komitas”(or Gomidas).
Komitas learned a great deal of music from the monks and continued to study music with the famous composer Kara-Murza, which eventually led Komitas into both secular and religious music. Komitas continued studying music (in Berlin), and in 1896, he was awarded a doctorate degree in musicology. He later returned to Etchmiadzin as a choir director, and Instructor of music at the Seminary.
Komitas wrote over three thousand songs in Armenian, Arabic, Kurdish, and Persian, and also contributed significantly to the modern Armenian Badarak (mass). His main contribution was to rediscover Armenian folk music. He spent years traveling throughout the provinces and visiting many villages listening to native songs and dances, and making notes of them for further analysis. His work in arranging and collating the folk music he had collected over the years eventually became excellent songs for chorus music, and made the public aware of the existence of true Armenian music. In addition to the folk music, Komitas arranged the entire music of the Divine Liturgy (Surp Badarak) of the Armenian Apostolic Church, for male voices.
The internationally known priest was the first non-European to be a member of the International Music Society. Komitas performed concerts in Paris, Geneva, Berne, Constantinople, Venice, and Alexandria. It is interesting to note that in the spring of 1915, during the imprisonment of more or less 700 leaders of the Armenian community for their killing, Komitas too was taken into custody. Through the efforts of Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador from the United States of America in turkey, and the turkish poet Mehmet Emin Yurdakul, who admired Komitas’ work, Komitas was released.
After the April 24, 1915 massacres of the Armenian people by the Turks, he succumbed to mental and physical anguish and never fully recovered. Komitas lived as if a walking corpse for the next twenty years. The revered holy man died in Paris on October 22, 1935 in a mental hospital. One year after his death his ashes were transferred to Yerevan and interred in the Yerevan Pantheon. In the 1950’s his manuscripts were transported from Paris to Yerevan where they were being studied and published. You can read more about him in the following adress: www.komitas.am