The Byzantine Catholic church music

The Byzantine Catholic church music in Hungary and in the region of the Carpathian Mountains acquired its form in the 18th century and this form has survived up to now. The worshippers in this area used the genre of „prostopinije” (simple song) during the church services of byzantine rite. Its origin can be traced back to the old Kiev melody which reached the North-Eastern corner of the Carpathian basis via the monasteries in Lemberg and Galícia (approx. on the territory of today Ukraine). For centuries it has exerted a very strong effect on the Eastern Christian liturgical music in South Poland, in the Eastern-Highlands (Felvidék) and Zakarpattia Oblast (Kárpátalja)(A Ukrainian administrative division which borders upon four countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Source: Wikipedia)

60 years after the Ungvár Union (Ungvár is a city at the border with Slovakia and near the border with Hungary. Source: Wikipedia)(1646) was signed, the Lemberg irmologion (Byzantine Rite book of music notes) contained music, in which our motives can be recognized, and some of the tunes we rarely sing can be seen entirely in its present form. Though the official liturgical language of the Munkács Diocese – founded by Maria Teresa in 1771 – was Old Slavic, it is clear from the records of that time that the worshippers speaking Hungarian already had the ambition to worship the Lord in their mother tongue. The spearhead of this movement was the town of Hajdúdorog and the priests serving there also supported this initiative. By the second half of the 19th century all the liturgical texts had been translated into Hungarian and the worshippers sang this – notwithstanding the fact that the official permission from the Holy See came only a lot later.

The first Hungarian collection of music notes came to light in Ungvár in 1906, the editors were János Boksay, a priest-composer and József Malinics, the cantor of the main cathedral. In the Hungarian dioceses, however, it was not the uniform tune that spread around but, following the pattern of how folk music comes down, the different variants of the „simple song” and this is the way we sing in our days as well. People sang monophonic songs or added the third sound and this has become the basic liturgical music form in the Byzantine Catholic church. But from time to time choir works of classical music background also appeared such as motets and hymns, which enriched the church music service. Out of this repertoire, we inherited, for example, music pieces arranged by János Boksay, István Orosz, Nikefor Petrassevich and László Bubnó.

A most important stage in the survival of Byzantine Catholic tradition came when Fülöp Kocsis, the diocesan of Hajdúdorog founded the department of cantors at the Saint Athanasius Byzantine-Catholic Theological College in Nyiregyháza. Moreover, the regular post-graduate education for congregation cantors, singing-leaders and choir-leaders was also started and in the Byzantine Catholic schools children have liturgical singing lessons. Contests are arranged for the children where they can measure their singing accomplishment every year. It is reassuring to observe that in the past decade more and more choirs have been established or reestablished as this makes sure the tradition will be transmitted in a way it really deserves.

Mr. DLA. Tamás Bubnó



Saint Nicolas Chapel (was Csulits Chapel)
7th Nefelejts street, Budaörs 2040 Map


szentdemeterkorus(at sign)
szentdemeterkorus(at sign)

Choir leader

Mrs. Hedvig Benyus

Choir secretary

Mr. László Kún
Telephon: +36 30 652-6653

Choir practices

on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays of each month at 11:00 a.m.
in the Saint Nicolas Chapel