The exaposteilarion (aka "Hymn of Light," svetlien , photagogikon ) is one of the musical and spiritual high points of the festal Matins. Like many exaposteilaria, the text for the feast of the Nativity speaks of enlightenment, preparing the faithful for the Psalms of Praise (Lauds) and the Great Doxology that follow immediately.
In the Byzantine chant tradition, the exaposteilarion is chanted to a special melody in Tone 3. The particular version sung here stems from the Antiochian (Syrian) tradition of Byzantine Chant.
In the Slavic realm, the singing of the exaposteilarion, curiously, came to be largely suppressed in 19th- and early 20th-century Russian practice. It is largely due to the efforts of liturgical musicologists and composers such as Prof. Johann von Gardner that certain ancient chant melodies, such as the Put' Chant ("Hearken ye women"), became restored in modern practice. Recently, both in Russia and America, composers have also turned their attention to the composition of exaposteilaria settings. The two compositions by Vladimir Morosan and Mark Bailey recorded here are examples of such works.
In a liturgical context the exaposteilarion is sung three times.
Archangel Voices has recorded three different versions to show how works in various styles--chant and choral--can be effectively juxtaposed.