St. Afrem, who wrote many Assyrian hymns, 4th
|Hal Libba Marya is a beautiful hymn of mourning, included in the "Liturgy, Hymns and Songs of the Assyrian Church of the East." The melody used for our instrumental version is rhythmically simplified, but still recognizable as the basic tune. Three descending notes at the end of each verse lend an air of peaceful resignation, a sort of "laid to rest" feeling that is at the very core of the belief that the departed ones will be protected by Jesus and rewarded in the afterlife for their good deeds.
The singing style of the Assyrian clergy is very ornate and uniquely beautiful, being transmitted for many centuries in the near east. Congregational singing is less elaborate, but still preserves the beauty of the melodies, many of which were composed by St. Ephraim or Afrem in the fourth centuryA.D. (Though we are not sure if this particular hymn is one of Mar Afrem's).
A second section, not part of the original hymn, was added as an instrumental bridge in our arrangement on "Seven Modes for an Ancient Lyre."
The Lord's Prayer
(Click for larger image)
|Today the Assyrian Christian church still uses a form of the Neoaramic language in their services. This is the language of the hymn Hal Libba (or Liba) Marya.
Calligraphy of the script is also an art among the Assyrians.
Left column: We are fortunate to have several thumbnail images of calligraphy in ancient Syriac/Aramaic from the generous owner of the site
Larger images of all are available at his web site.
Calligraphy Images used by persmission of Hanna Hajjar www.http://cavemanart.com/osroene
One cannot mention the history and religion of the Assyrians without telling the story of how the Assyrians became a Christian nation during the time of Christ. Below is a short version of this legend, which is available in longer version at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01042c.htm
The letter quoted below is also on Hanna Hajjar's site.
Legend has it that in the time of Christ, King Abgar V Ukomo of Osroene in Assyria became very ill and no one could help him. Help was sent for from the famous healer, Jesus in Jerusalem, by means of the courier Hannan, to come and heal the king. Jesus, who knew his days were numbered few at that time, replied:
"...And that you have written to me that I should come to you--that for which I have been sent here is now fulfilled, and I am about to ascend to my Father who sent me, and when I have ascended to him, I will send you one of my disciples, who will heal and cure whatever pain you have, and all who are with you he will lead to eternal life. Your city will be blessed, and no enemy in the future will ever take it over."
St. Thomas (or St. Mor Adai, depending on which version of the story) went to Assyria, and successfully cured the king, whereupon the entire Assyrian population was converted to Christianity.
|Short excerpts of all pieces can be heard on the store page on "listen" under "Seven Modes for an Ancient Lyre"
HAL LIBA MARYA
Hal li-ba Mar-ya
lpagh-re le tvee-ra
hal tai-tad Mshee-kha
bqav-re, le ntee-ra.
ta-me le spee-ra;
bshap- peer doo-ba re
bit pa-yish khqee-ra.
From "Liturgy, Hymns and songs of the Assyrian Church of the East
Music by Alexander (Shoora) Michaelia
LORD, GIVE COURAGE
Lord, give courage
To those in sorrow
The death of their beloved ones
They are mourning
Has broken their body
Until the coming of Jesus
Their grave he protected
At the resurrection of the departed
There he is awaited
Where for his good deeds
He shall be praised.
Mr. George V.Yana (Bebla)
Head of genie, with colors restored from original
traces. From Nimrud, about 865 B.C..
Click for larger image
|A letter from an Assyrian scholar and correspondant in Florida who kindly translated the words to Hal Liba Marya:
Now, this may not be a poetic translation, but it is faithful to its
original. You can beautify it, if you want, but don't change the meaning.
Please, don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
George V. Yana (Bebla)
"genie" image from http://www.betnahrain.org/Gallery/
See also several bas reliefs from the same site on "Triumphant March" page
Click to see
the aramaic alphabet, from http://www.omniglot.com/writing/aramaic.htm
The Aramaic language itself passed through many stages of development
* Old Aramaic 975-700 B.C.
* Standard Aramaic 700-200 B.C.
* Middle Aramaic 200 B.C.-200 A.D.
* Late Aramaic 200-700 A.D. which includes:
a. Western Aramaic-
The dialect of the Jews (Jerusalem, the Talmud and
the Targums) and the Syro-Palestine dialect.
b. Eastern Aramaic-
The dialect of Syriac form, Assyrian Chaldean form,
Babylon, Talmudic Aramaic and Mundaie.