Dialogue and dispute poems are Mesopotamian literary forms that have continued to be functional and attractive through the ages in environments such as urban courts, rural communities, schools, temples and churches, where they were used in entertainment, education, and liturgy, for the celebration of shared knowledge and beliefs, as exercises in rhetoric, storehouses for popular wisdom or learned exegetical traditions. The vitality and longevity of these textual forms and certain specific texts do not seem to depend only on their inner value and charm, but also on their dynamism and ability to adapt to new contexts of production and reception. A case in point is the Syriac dispute between The Cherub and the Thief that still enjoys considerable success among East-Syrians, in their tormented homeland as well as in the world-wide diaspora. Tens of video recordings of this dispute, published on YouTube, document the flexibility of the text, usually sung in Modern Aramaic, to adapt to new forms of performance. The paper focuses on the version sung on Easter Monday of the year 2009 in the church of Mar Qardaġ in Alqosh, northern Iraq. Different musical transcriptions of a couple of verses are proposed to show how a rather simple melody and rhythmical pattern can be varied in actual performance.

The Cherub and the Thief on YouTube: An Eastern Christian Liturgical Drama and the Vitality of the Mesopotamian Dispute

MENGOZZI, Alessandro;
2013

Abstract

Dialogue and dispute poems are Mesopotamian literary forms that have continued to be functional and attractive through the ages in environments such as urban courts, rural communities, schools, temples and churches, where they were used in entertainment, education, and liturgy, for the celebration of shared knowledge and beliefs, as exercises in rhetoric, storehouses for popular wisdom or learned exegetical traditions. The vitality and longevity of these textual forms and certain specific texts do not seem to depend only on their inner value and charm, but also on their dynamism and ability to adapt to new contexts of production and reception. A case in point is the Syriac dispute between The Cherub and the Thief that still enjoys considerable success among East-Syrians, in their tormented homeland as well as in the world-wide diaspora. Tens of video recordings of this dispute, published on YouTube, document the flexibility of the text, usually sung in Modern Aramaic, to adapt to new forms of performance. The paper focuses on the version sung on Easter Monday of the year 2009 in the church of Mar Qardaġ in Alqosh, northern Iraq. Different musical transcriptions of a couple of verses are proposed to show how a rather simple melody and rhythmical pattern can be varied in actual performance.
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Syriac dialogue poems; East-Syriac liturgy; Syriac music; Neo-Aramaic; Youtube
Alessandro Mengozzi; Luca Basilio Ricossa
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/150960
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