Lela Khachidze                                                                                                                                                                          # 10

 Towards the Earliest Redaction of the “Triodion”

    The study of the Georgian manuscripts of Triodion reveals that this collection has gone through the process of a long and interesting evolution. Its four  redactions were created in 10th -1th -cc. Georgian hymnography, among them the most significant being the first Georgian Triodion which was separated from Tropologion as an independent collection. The Georgian manuscript N5 (1052) preserved on Mount Sinai, reveals its structure.

This manuscript shows the title which, supposedly, must have been taken from the first Georgian Triodion: “Hymns for the Sundays of the Holy Lent, created by Elias of Jerusalem; other hymns created by Stephanus Sabbaites  who was  the nephew of John Damascene; other hymns created by Holy Father Theodore Studites; Other hymns -  Stichera created by reverend Minchkhi the Georgian” (Sin. 5 , 28 V).

The structure of Triodion is defined in this title, thus all of the four authors’ hymns are included in the collection anonymously. Later, longer collections of Triodion were created, hence the need to specify the authors. In this respect the most important manuscript is Georgica 5 which is written by the greatest representative of Georgian Church and culture - Giorgi Athonian and kept in the National Library of Paris. This manuscript was very important in the reconstruction of the first Georgian Triodion. However, other manuscripts from various collections were also used in this process.

The first Georgian Triodion includes 7 canons for the Sundays of Lent by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Elias III (+797).  In the Greek and Slavonic publications of the Triodions as well as in the scientific literature not much is mentioned about the creative work of this author – only the canons written for the 2nd and 4th Sundays of Lent and two Stichera for the Palm Sunday are mentioned. Besides, in the Greek manuscripts there is “Four – Odes” created for Lazarus Saturday added to the “Four – Odes” of Kosmas of Jerusalem and also three Stichera for the 4th Sunday (Karabinov 1910:119).

The creative work of this hymn - writer can be appreciated by the Greek Hirmologions, according to which Elias was a very productive author. Hirmologions contain the first stanzas of about 20 Kanons which must have been dedicated to important holidays and Sundays of Lent.

Thus only a general impression based on Greek   and Slavonic manuscripts can be formed about this interesting hymnographer. Under such circumstances it is rather important to consider Elias’ canons for Lent period represented as full texts in Georgian manuscripts. They are written for Lent – from the preparatory period including the 6th Sunday.

One more canon by this author has been found in the Georgian Triodion. It is meant for the 4th Friday of Lent. It is not mentioned in the scientific literature and Hirmologions   have only its first stanza.

So the Georgian manuscripts are the only means enabling us to restore significant part of Elias’ creative work.

Ioanne Minchkhi - Georgian   hymn-writer of the 10th century added the second Odes to the Georgian translations of Lent Kanons created by Elias III.

After Elias the Patriarch, in the title being analyzed, two more hymn - writers are mentioned:

Stephanus Sabbaites and Theodore Studites. As revealed by the comparative analysis of the Georgian manuscripts including Triodion, both of them are the authors of sets of hymns for Lent – from Monday to 6th Friday. This is a vast hymnographical repertoire.

Though Theodore Studites is a well-known author in Byzantine hymnography, this cannot be said about Stephanus Sabbaites. According to the title, this almost unknown author must have been the nephew of John Damascene.

Typikon of the Great Constantinople Temple mentions him as John Damascene’s relative.

In the Greek   and Slavonic Triodion Stephanus Sabbaites’ name is found in connection with some Stichera.They are dedicated to the Pharisee and Publican and the Prodigal Son. Stephanus is mentioned as the author of three Stichera for the Apokreos Sunday.The same Stichera are ascribed to Theophanos Graptos in other manuscripts. Stephanus Sabbaites is also mentioned as the author of the hirmi of 4 Stichera for Lent. But here too they are mixed with the hymns by Andrew  Pyrrhus (Karabinov 1910:121 ). As for the canons and “Three-Odes” by this author, they are not mentioned in the scientific literature (Cappuyns  1935).

In the first Georgian Triodion the hole cycle of “Three-Odes” by  Stephanus Sabbaites is singled out. These 20 hymns are perfect artistic works and their author is obviously one of the outstanding representations of the Byzantine hymnography.

The “Three-Odes” by Stephanus Sabbaites are not given in the Georgian Tropologion (The Ancient Tropolgion 1980). They must have been specially translated for the first Georgian Triodion. Afterwards these translations entered the following redactions of the Georgian Triodion. In this case too Georgian translations are the only means of restoration Stephanus Sabbaites’ unknown heritage. In the second half of the 8th century in Constantinople increased the number of those hymn – writers who worked on the Triodion. They often imitated their ancestors from Jerusalem. Their aim was to make ordinary Lent days and preparatory period perfect.

The second cycle of the “Three – Odes” included in the first Georgian Triodion belongs to Theodore Studites. The works of this author and those of his brother – Joseph - belong to the second period of Byzantine Church poetry when the centre for the development of hymnography was shifted from East toWest, to Constantinople. Supposedly, the “Three – Odes” written by Theodore Studite were produced between 794 - 815 which covers the period between his election as Hegumen of the Monastery to the period when he was banned and banished by the Emperor Leon known by his Iconoclastic controversy.

Theodore Studites is known in the history of Byzantine hymnography as the author and compiler of the new redaction of the Greek Triodion. The Triodion hymns by this author are well – known in the scientific literature. Apart from the “Three-Odes” he wrote the Kanons for the Sundays,   Saturdays and other holidays of Lent as well as the whole group of Stichera. He also worked on the Pentekostarion. He was a very productive author in Byzantine hymnography. His hymns deserve interest from the theological as well as poetical point of view. He was one of the leaders among the Image – worshippers. In numerous hymns he systematically used troparia to the Holy Trinity.

 Most hymns by Theodore Studites are Prosomoia. Their hirmi belong to the hynm – writers from Jerusalem. E.Wellesz demonstrated Romanus’ influence on his hymns (Wellesz 1980:  229 – 230).

 In the scientific literature are mentioned 4 canons created by Theodore Studites for the Lent period, 30 “Three -  Odes” for  the ordinary Lent days,  4  “Four – Odes”  for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th  and 5th Saturdays and about 60 Stichera.

In the first  Georgian  Triodion Theodore Studites  was  represented with  30 “Three -  Odes”  and  4 “Four – Odes” . Most of those hymns were translated into Georgian earlier and entered the New Tropologion. Those translations are found in the first Georgian Triodion and its following redactions.

The analysed title mentions one more author, Ioanne  Minchkhi . He is referred to as the author of small-sized hymns - Stichera. These are 88 stichera which are considered to be the best examples of Georgian hymnography. Ioanne Minchkhi has written small-sized hymns for the whole period of Lent - starting from Apokreos Saturday to the Holy Saturday (Khachidze 1987).

65  stichera by Minchkhi created   for Tridion are made according to the Hirmi translated from Greek. The 23  stichera are the “Idiomela” (Automela) – their rhythymical and melodic measures belong to the same author. Ioanne Minchkhi is considered to be the only author among Georgian hymn - writers who created and established his own measures in Georgian hymnography.

Minchkhi’s stichera are perfect samples of hymnography. They are distinguished by emotional ingenuousness, modest, balanced form of expression. These hymns have mainly originated from the Bible and the repertoire of three Byzantine authors that are represented in the first Georgian Triodion, whom Minchkhi knows very well. Minchkhi’s close connection with the first Georgian Triodion is also proved by the fact that he added the second Odes to the Georgian translations of the Kanons created by these authors.

Introducing small-sized hymns - Stichera into the first Georgian Triodion Ioanne Minchkhi  added the original Georgian layer  to the collection .This is considered  to be one of the few cases of “Georgianisation “ of the collection translated from Greek.

The same can be said about Slavonic hymnnography where Konstantine Preslavski, a hymn- writer of the 10th c., who, like Ioanne Minchkhi, added original cycle of  hymns to  the “ Bitol Triodion” translated from Greek ( Zaimov 1984  ).

One of the ancient types of Greek Triodion, which consisted of Sunday Kanons by Elais of Jerusalem and “Three – Odes” by Stephanus  Sabbaites and Theodore Studite which are kept in full form in Georgian translations, must have been served as a prototype to  the first Georgian Triodion.

It can also be proposed that Triodion by Stephanus  Sabbaites which is considered to be one of the earliest versions of Greek Triodion is older than Triodioin by  Theodore Studites.


  1. Cappuyns 1935: Cappuyns N. Le Triodion, Thése. PIOS, 1935 (in French)

  2. Karabinov 1910: Karabinov I. Lent Triode, St. Petersburg, 1910 (in Russian)

  3. Khachidze 1987: Khachidze L. Ioanne Minchkhi’s Poetry, Tbilisi, 1987 (in Georgian)

  4. The Ancient Tropolgion, studied and prepared for publication by El. Metreveli, Ts. Chankiev and L. Khevsuriani ,Tbilisi, 1980(In Georgian).

  5. Wellesz 1980: Wellesz E.  A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography, Oxford, 1980

  6. Zaimov 1984: Zaimov  J. The KICEVO TRIODIUM, also known as BITOLA  TRIODIUM , Sofia, 1984 (in Slavonic)




Volume 3, Issue 2


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature