This Scene Takes Place in Heaven
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A summary of a chapter from A. Solomos' book 'Saint Bacchus', outlining the origin and history of Christian drama as the outcome of the psalm - 'the Christian dithyramb. Next we have the 'Song of Songs' conceived as the prototype of the opera and psalms intended for choral performance; the introduction of songs into the liturgy by the heretics and the adaptation of Christian psalms to the principles of ancient Greek music; the protest expressed by Christians against psalms, perceived as earthly pleasure as well as their ultimate acceptance by the orthodox Christians and the establishment of the custom of singing poetic songs at the time of the Fathers of the Church. From the fifth century on, Syrian communities witnessed the flourishing of the art of the hymnographers, the most distinguished being Roman Melodos. Hymns and kontakions assumed a dramatic character although not openly (since the theatre was much criticised). Such dramatic features as the absence of the narration and 'theatrical' dialogue, a person in place of an animal character (the serpent with Adam and Eve), and scenes described by the hymnographers reflect Church customs; in the introduction of the forces of darkness (the Devil, Hades, Thanatos) words do not possess the merits of salvation. The hymns display a formal similarity to the secular theatre. The author proposed a hypothesis about the theatrical staging of hymns; in his opinion, The 'Descent to Hell', enacted up to this day in Greece, is a relic of this practice.
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