Khomovoe Penie

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Khomovoe Penie


(“khomovoe singing”; also khomoniia, razdel’norechie, literally “divided speech”), a system of pronouncing the texts of Russian church songs; it arose in the 15th century. The practice consisted in pronouncing missing vowels between consonants and after a final consonant; for example, videvoshe instead of videvshe and grekhomo instead of grekhom (hence the name). Introduction of the practice was linked with the change in Slavic phonetics that occurred when semivowels became vowels. However, the principal reason was an attempt to lend a special character to texts of religious songs to differentiate them from secular speech.

Khomovoe penie was sharply criticized in the 17th century as new, enlightened ideas spread in Moscow society. The Council of Moscow of 1666–67 resolved to replace khomovoe penie with singing in which the words were pronounced as in ordinary speech. A special commission was charged with correcting hymnals to make singing conform to the new norm, and the pronunciation of words as in ordinary speech became established. Khomovoe penie continued in practice only among the Old Believers.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.