CHURCH FOLK SINGING: ‘The Child Was Born …’ – Traditional (Glagolitic) Church Singing in Podstrana (Split)
St. Catherine’s Church, Sunday 24.07.2016. at 19:30

The last two decades in Croatia have been marked by a special interest in presenting traditional church singing heritage on public performances — concerts. The MSF was the initiator of first events; since the 90s, organized mass in Zagreb Cathedral for the participants, while its regular program included themed concerts of traditional church music. The tradition of concert presentation of church singing thus come to life and become topical thanks to MSF as basic model, which is ’copied’ to the myriad of local and regional festivals. This year’s theme concert of traditional church singing, its older (Glagolitic) repertoire, presents contemporary and lively tradition of the church traditional music-making of Podstrana Parish (Lower Poljica Region).

According to the original idea the concert will show the selection of the older layer of musical examples through diversity of performing approaches and musical style characteristics. Traditionally, the male singers are leaders of church singing in the region. However, in the last several decades female singers also sing together. The concept of performance follows the singing traditions through the liturgical year events starting from Advent period through the Christmas period, Lent and Holy Week period to the (summer) celebrations of the local patrons (Holy Mary). The concert was conceived as a selection of parts of the Mass, interesting variants of archaic forms of liturgical and paraliturgical songs that are performed throughout the year.

During the meetings with the informants, we have generated a number of interesting facts about the local practice of performing. It confi rms the thesis, as many times before, that the Lenten sung repertoire is one of the most present in practice and in the collective memory of local communities. Lent period and especially Holly Week is a very important period in the spiritual practice of the Ro man Catholic population of the region, which is recognized in numerous folk customs, related to

the earlier periods.

The process of creating the concert program presented in these examples is an indicator of the current situation in the fi eld of implementing the public practice of church singing that, following the current models of public presentation, helps survival and relative popularity of the older layers of church singing. It is easy to conclude that the older layers church singing without these efforts would fade while falling into complete oblivion.


Joško Ćaleta