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Gerda Wolfram

(b Sozopolis, Pisidia, 465; d Xois, Egypt, Feb 8, 538). Greek hymnographer and theologian. He studied law and philosophy in Alexandria and Berytus and in 488 was baptized in Libya. He became a monk and is thought to have founded a monophysite monastery near Maiuma in Palestine. Because of the persecution of Palestinian monophysite monks, Severus went to Constantinople in 508, where he opposed the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon and succeeded in gaining the support of Emperor Anastasius I for the monophysite cause. In 512 he became Patriarch of Antioch, but with the suppression of monophytism following Anastasius’s death in 518 he was removed from office and went into exile in Egypt. In 535 Severus returned to Constantinople, but he was excommunicated in 536 and again fled to Egypt where he later died.

One of Severus’s intentions after he had taken up office was to create a magnificent rite (according to his biographer, Joannes bar-Aphthonia). Realizing that the people of Antioch loved both sacred and secular music, he composed many hymns and employed ecclesiastical singers to attract more people to church services. He was a prolific writer, whose surviving works have mostly come down in Syriac translation, among them the hymnal ...

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(b Shoah, Ethiopia, 1949). Ethiopian singer, church musician, and liturgical scholar, naturalized American. Seyoum began studying music at the age of eight and attended various religious schools in his homeland. As he grew older, he began to learn new types of performance, including the Bethlehem style of singing, Christian chant, and sacred dance. At 17 years of age, he was already named a quanygeta, or “leader of the right hand side,” an important position among Ethiopian church musicians (also called dabrata). He quickly rose from deacon to marigeta, the leader of the musicians. He spent ten years in Greece learning more about liturgical practices and then came to the United States in 1982. Seyoum settled in Alexandria, Virgina, and joined the Debre Selam Kidist Mariam Church in Washington, DC. He became a leader there, and his remarkable musical skills have led to the preservation of many traditional elements of the Ethiopian Christian tradition in America. To codify and disseminate these practices, Seyoum released a six-CD set of liturgical materials. He has memorized the entirety of the Ethiopian Psalter (Dawit) and has intimate knowledge of other sacred books, such as the Ethiopian Hymnary. Seyoum is an expert of instrumental church practices, including those that are tied to the extremely complicated notational system from Ethiopia that includes more than 600 symbols. He is also the only living master of the prayer staff and its movements (an art called ...