RootsWorld: Home Page Link RootsWorld: Home Page Link

Sangen fra Katakombene
Kirkelig Kulturverksted (

Following the bell and duduk that open Sangen fra Katakombene (Song from the Catacombs), Norwegian is one of the last languages one might expect to hear. Yet that is exactly what occurs in the new project from SKRUK.


"Tvilens og troens vugge"

SKRUK - the acclaimed Norwegian choir that hails from Sunnmøre in southwestern Norway - approaches this album with over 20 more to its credit. Under the direction of Per Oddvar Hildre, and featuring arrangements by Siyavush Karimi, rector of the Azerbaijan National Conservatory, and composer Henning Sommerro, the program blends narrative songs with recordings of monks made in Turkey at Mor Augin and Mor Gabriel, the world's oldest Syriac Orthodox monasteries. These monasteries have been involved in near-constant disputes since Atatürk's rise to power in World War I, during which time Turkey's first president deemed their faith inimical to his cause. Yet even as most Turkish Christians were fleeing westward, a few devout pockets refused to be moved. This album, then, is an attempt to recapture those voices and to give them an international reach: a message of solidarity to those Christian minorities in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East (such communities survive also in Syria and Lebanon) forced to practice their devotions in catacombs, literal and metaphorical.

"Bønn for sta. Maria"

The program's texts embody the communal strictures of Syriac vestry, which abides by the St. James Liturgy in its original Aramaic. Hymns from morning mass captured live at Mor Augin and Mor Gabriel are checkered into the Norwegian songs, the latter penned by producer and lyricist Erik Hillestad, as a means of embracing common themes. These range from early faith (the Syriacs were among the first to receive Christianity) to modern persecutions. The music itself is sung beautifully and with soulful purpose, spanning modes of chant, antiphony, and polyphony. The overall runic quality is distinctly Nordic, but welcomes its fellow Turkish spirits with an open heart. The abovementioned duduk, played by Shirzad Fataliyev, makes occasional appearance - a voice from afar, now near.

"Sangen fra katakombene"

The Syriac Orthodoxy represents an unbroken line between the mouth of Jesus and the liturgy preserved in his name. That it survives, in spite of fragmentation and genocide, is testament to testament. Together with the studio-honed comforts of SKRUK, its voices express the transitory nature of life and the challenge of followers seeking solace along paths of exile. A thirst for salvation therefore pervades, one that points to the fullness of the divine in the emptiest of lives.

"Vår far - The Lord's Prayer"

All the more appropriate, then, that the album should end with the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic. To hear the body of Christ fleshed and transfigured in the language of Christ is a piece of history that connects peoples, places, and times beyond the iniquities of doctrinal politics. This is a hermetic seal broken in the name of harmony. - Tyran Grillo

Looking for More Information?


return to rootsworld

© 2014 RootsWorld. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.


cd cover

Share on Facebook


RootsWorld depends on your support.
Contribute in any amount
and get our weekly e-newsletter.