This is the second of three albums of Byzantine Chant in English by Fr. Apostolos Hill that I received a complimentary copy of from Liturgica. The chants on this album are a collection of liturgical texts for funerals and are just as beautifully chanted as the chants on the first album I reviewed. This is the only funeral CD I own and if you only have the cash to buy a single funeral album this should probably be your first choice. I don't like the liturgical texts quite as much as those contained on Gates of Repentance but it's still an excellent and very peaceful album and some beautiful female chanting.
The album begins with a beautiful prayer requesting God to give rest to the departed. The Book of Concord does not forbid prayers for the dead and neither do I. There's a petition at the end addressed to the Virgin that I don't think is entirely inappropriate but I'm not sure why we are saying that we are her servants.
The third track is a beautiful version of the Trisagion Hymn where we call upon God to have mercy on us. The album has a number of beautiful chants of various Psalms. Track seven is one of my favorites and part of it says:
The choir of saints has found the fountain of life and the door of Paradise. May I also find the way through repentance, the sheep that was lost am I, call me up to You, O Savior, and save me.
Tracks 9-16 are funeral hymns by St. John of Damascus. The rightly show how empty, sad, and fleeting life can be and how rest can only be found in Christ. Track 10 reads:
Like a flower that wastes away, and like a dream that passes and is gone, so is ever mortal into dust resolved; but again, when the trumpet sounds its call as though at a quaking of the earth, all the dead shall arise and go forth to meet You, O Christ our God...
Part of Track 16 reads:
The death which you have endured, O Lord, is become the harbinger of deathlessness; if You had not laid in Your tomb, the gates of Paradise would not have opened; wherefore to them now departed from us give rest, for You are the friend of mankind.
Track 18 is a chanting of the Epistle reading--1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. Track 19 is a chanting of the Gospel reading--John 5:24-30. The chanting of the Gospel reading is the most beautiful chanting I have heard anywhere. Someone needs to make Fr. Apostolos Hill do a chanting of the entire Bible.
Tracks 21 and 22 are Greek versions of tracks 2 and 3.
If you are really anti-prayers for the dead you will probably have more theological problems with this album than Gates of Repentance but otherwise there is less objectionable material. If you are interested in liturgical chant I highly recommend you make both of these albums part of your library.