fatherpatrick

Thoughts on Church Music and Liturgics from Bp HILARION (Alfeyev)

In Orthodox Christianity: in general on February 19, 2009 at 1:44 am

I found the following material to be brilliantly expressed, from one of our newer, younger hierarchs.  Some of my readers may be familiar with Bp HILARION’s catechism, “The Mystery of Faith.”

 

This is drawn from his presentation entitled, “Orthodox Worship as a School of Theology”:  http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/12/1.aspx

 

On the inspired status of Orthodox liturgical texts:

 

The school of Orthodox theology that formed my theological thinking was not so much a theological seminary, academy or university but the Liturgy and other services…

Orthodox divine services are a priceless treasure that we must carefully guard. Similar services were once celebrated in other Christian communities, but over the centuries they were lost as a result of both liturgical and theological reforms…

Orthodox divine services, whether it be the Liturgy, vespers, matins, hours, nocturnes or compline … are uninterrupted prayer… Byzantine liturgical texts filled with profound theological and mystical content, alternate with the prayerful incantation of the psalms…

Liturgical texts are for Orthodox Christians an incontestable doctrinal authority, whose theological irreproachability is second only to Scripture. Liturgical texts are not simply the works of outstanding theologians and poets, but also the fruits of the prayerful experience of those who have attained sanctity and theosis.

 

On Church Singing:

 

(Church chant) is characterized by a spirituality that is lacking not only in many works of secular music, but also in the contemporary western-style church singing, which is composed according to principles totally different from those of ancient chant. It is not secret that the concert-like, “Italianate” singing performed in many churches does not correspond to the spirit of the traditional liturgical texts to which they were written. The main aim of such music is to give pleasure to the ear, while the aim of true church singing is to help the faithful immerse themselves in the prayerful experience of the mysteries of the faith… It is not easy for modern man to appreciate ancient chant, and just as difficult to “lay aside all earthly cares” and enter the depths of prayerful contemplation. But only this and similar singing is truly canonical and corresponds best to the spirit of Orthodox divine services.

 

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