Yhinx: An Ancient Greek Love Charm

TTBB a cappella, t.b. solos, solo whistler

Commissioned by Cantus for their "Magic, Myth and Legend" concert tour, this ancient Greek love charm for men's voices is a fiery chant for a daring ensemble. Theocritus's 3rd c. BC text describes how to cast a "binding spell," or Yhinx, to bring back a wayward lover. (Yhinx, spelled "Iunx" in Greek, is still popularly known as a "jinx"). Because the ancient Greeks believed symmetry to have magical powers, much of the melodies and rhythms are palindromic, including the lengthy Greek (some say nonsense?) word found etched into an ancient stone. (Sung mostly in English, yhinx itself in Greek.)

Perusal Score: 

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Catalog Number: 
Commissioned By: 
Premiere Ensemble: 
Cantus; Minneapolis, MN - May 8, 2003
Text Author or Source: 
Theocritus (3rd cent. BC), Greek stone (3rd cent. AD). Trans. by J.M. Edmonds (1912)
Greek and English

Hey-dey, hey-dey, tah-ku, tah-ku (Now, now, quickly quickly!)

Where are my bay leaves? Come, Thestylis; Where are my love charms? Come, crown me the bowl with the crimson flower o' wool...

First Barley meal to the burning, Come, Thestylis! Throw it on! On, on with the meal! So I burn the bay, As it crackles and then - Lo!

Yheunx: ah-behr-ah-men-thoh-oo-lehr-thex-ah-na-kseth-rehl-oo-oh-thnem-ah-reh-bah

Now for the bran... "O Artemis! Artemis!" Whelmed in the flames! Hark Thestylis! Quick - beat the pan!

And as this puppet melts for me
So melt my Love so speedily -
And as this wheel of brass
Turns by grace of Aphrodite,
So (my Love shall) turn and turn again...

Lo there! Now wave is still and wind is still, though never still the pain burning in my breast. For I am all afire, afire alas! So take thou these ashes, come Thestylis, while tis yet dark, and smear them privily, and spit for what thou doest and... Thrice this libation I pour - Thrice this prayer... "O Artemis, Artemis!" Thrice I say to Thee:

Yheunx: ah-behr-ah-men-thoh-oo-lehr-thex-ah-na-kseth-rehl-oo-oh-thnem-ah-reh-bah
Yheunx: ah-behr-ah-men-thoh-oo-lehr-thex-ah-na-kseth-rehl-oo-oh-thnem-ah-reh-bah
Yheunx: ah-behr-ah-men-thoh-oo-lehr-thex-ah-na-kseth-rehl-oo-oh-thnem-ah-reh-bah

Theocritus (3rd century BC), with English translation by J. M. Edmunds (1912), and Greek stone (3rd century AD). These texts, to the best of my knowledge, are in the public domain, and may be reprinted from this website for use in concert programs and for promotional use as related to this musical work.