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Author Topic: Gratuity for chanters  (Read 4052 times) Average Rating: 0
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scamandrius
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« on: March 06, 2008, 09:40:22 PM »

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14954.msg213573.html#msg213573

BTRAKAS posted this in response to a question from SouthSerb99 on another topic.  However, it got me thinking.  I am a chanter at my church.  I do it because I was given a talent by God and it would be sin not to use it.  It also helps me to focus my prayers both in the church and at home.  The chanters at my church are not given much of anything save for complaints from people who say that our chanting causes Orthros prior to Liturgy to go a little past 10:00 and thus delayed the start of the liturgy by five minutes.  I've also chanted at baptisms, weddings and funerals and never once did I expect a gratuity or anything.  I've hardly even received a "thank you."  But is "tipping" chanters a courtesy that people should know about?  I'm probably making a big deal out of nothing since I know that chanting is not my gift but a gift from God which is sinful not to do.  But, I'm curious as to how chanters are treated in other parishes.
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2008, 10:50:37 PM »

I do a lot of reading and chanting.  I'm never paid, nor do I expect to be.  However, I also don't travel to other parishes to do it, and I am rarely asked to go "out of my way" to read at a wedding or other "exceptional" service.  The person who is around and is able to read is the one who ends up reading for these events.  If I were going and setting up at weddings, funerals, etc. on a really regular basis as you are, I might well like to get a gratuity.  I'm not sure if my choir director gets one or not, but he should, IMHO.
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2008, 11:46:48 PM »

I have been chanting since I was 9 years old.  For the first 6 years it was just slave labor that my dad made me do (a priest).  The rest I did mostly for myself. 

When I went to seminary (GOA), I started getting paid left and right.  Most "other country" people will pay you, or people that grew out of that tradition.  I once had a grandfather hunt me down at a funeral, at a dead sprint, to pay me. 

It is really helpful for me, as I use it for my gas money.  Without it, I would have a hard time making it to any sacraments.  It helps the priest, it helps the people, and in all honesty it probably helps me the most.  I learn, I reconnect, and I help. 

We should be payed for an honest day's work.  If you can afford to do it for free...then do it for free.  If you need the money...well...then you need the money. 

If churches can give people scholarships to help them through school, they can give you some tips to pay for gas. 

I'm not sure these were good analogies, they just popped into my head. 
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2008, 02:15:44 AM »

This is from the website of an Antiochian church, on what is expected for a funeral.  I didn't identify them as to not embarrass them.  But, maybe a pricelist is the way to go.

FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FAMILY
Active pledging members of the church:
Church: No charge, but most families give a gift
Priest: Honorarium
Chanter: $50
Non-active Orthodox members
Church: $600
Priest: $150
Chanter: $50

=============================================================

On another page:

Fees for Non-dues Paying Members:
*For more detailed information on funeral protocol and procedures, click here.

The following fees for weddings, baptisms, and funerals have been adopted by
(church name omitted by me) for non-dues paying members:
Weddings: $600
Plus: $150 for Priest and Chanter
Baptisms: $600
Plus: $150 for Priest and Chanter
Funerals: $600
Plus: $150 for Priest and Chanter

A little tacky for me . . . but what do I know?  I guess if you're working 2 jobs and can't be active, at least you'll have enough money for the "surcharge".


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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2008, 03:25:01 AM »

...

Most "other country" people will pay you, or people that grew out of that tradition.  I once had a grandfather hunt me down at a funeral, at a dead sprint, to pay me. 

It is really helpful for me, as I use it for my gas money.  Without it, I would have a hard time making it to any sacraments.  It helps the priest, it helps the people, and in all honesty it probably helps me the most.  I learn, I reconnect, and I help. 

We should be payed for an honest day's work.  If you can afford to do it for free...then do it for free.  If you need the money...well...then you need the money. 

If churches can give people scholarships to help them through school, they can give you some tips to pay for gas. 

A resounding YES YES YES here.  What is the service sans music?  Pretty much nothing.  If your parish has the means to support a full time priest, then they probably can at least pay the choir director/protopsalti/main chanting person at least a few bucks on a regular basis.  Failure to do so when the parish has the ability says that they are not willing to put their money where their mouth is and settle for mediocrity for their music, which should be a top priority. 

At a Panakhida a few months ago, I commented to our choir director that I was given a few dollars in an envelope for leading the singing (he was away for a few days).  He said, "Of course!  Many old Russians feel obligated and insulted to NOT pay something!"  Don't quote me on this, I recently went to the Antiochian Sacred Music Institute conference and one of the choir directors, Paul Jabara drove this point home.  Paul has been the choir director at the cathedral in Montreal for 24 years.  He is 41, so you can do the math for when he started.  He directs a choir of 20-35 - he says 20 on a good day and 35 on a bad one (he prefers the smaller, dedicated member days).  He said just what I did and even that he had paid section leaders for a while (often not even Orthodox), but this inspired the other choir members to do better and be more dedicated themselves.  If you are a small mission parish or can barely afford to pay your priest, that is one thing, but most parishes that can pay a full time priest can make music more of a priority.  Pay to send the director or interested/talented singers to conferences or music classes to become chanters.  We see how Anglican/Catholic/Other choirs in the USA have produced very professional sound in recordings.  We should settle for no less, while we often do settle for mediocrity or less.

OK, off my soapbox now.  G'night y'all.
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2008, 03:31:21 AM »

To follow-up psaltiboy's post, every Serbian church I've been in (well, only three that I can think of) had price list in the Hall.  I don't blame them though, as I can remember many a Wedding that I sang for for which I didn't know the people and could have gone and just done my own thing and wasn't paid for.  I remember a wedding last summer, a rather small and last minute affair, for which we had about one of the best men's quintets you could get...and none of us were paid and I later heard that the groom is an Anethesiologist.
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2008, 10:32:38 AM »

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14954.msg213573.html#msg213573

BTRAKAS posted this in response to a question from SouthSerb99 on another topic.  However, it got me thinking.  I am a chanter at my church.  I do it because I was given a talent by God and it would be sin not to use it.  It also helps me to focus my prayers both in the church and at home.  The chanters at my church are not given much of anything save for complaints from people who say that our chanting causes Orthros prior to Liturgy to go a little past 10:00 and thus delayed the start of the liturgy by five minutes.  I've also chanted at baptisms, weddings and funerals and never once did I expect a gratuity or anything.  I've hardly even received a "thank you."  But is "tipping" chanters a courtesy that people should know about?  I'm probably making a big deal out of nothing since I know that chanting is not my gift but a gift from God which is sinful not to do.  But, I'm curious as to how chanters are treated in other parishes.

Let's put this in perspective. If one were to arrange for a funeral, baptism or wedding at a Protestant or Roman Catholic church. It is EXPECTED that the pianist, organist, Clergy, choir, harpist, orchestra, soloist or other people who will be part of the event would be compensated by whoever is handling the expense.   How that is handled is usually varied from church to church. A mega church or historic structure is going to have some sort of formalized cost structure outlining exactly how much  each of these cost. A smaller church might be less stringent and will accept a "donation"  for the use of their facility.

For example, please see this:  http://www.christchurchcathedral.org/upload/Customary-%20Feb2007.pdf

It has been my experience that chanters, priests and those who assist are given some form of compensation for weddings, funerals and baptisms.  If a choir is used, then a donation in support of the church choir.  A friend of mine was married at local Greek Orthodox church, which is one of the larger parishes where I live. How much to donate to the chanter, priest and other support was clearly outlined. On the other hand, where I attend does not have have guidelines outlining how much to donate. Some give a lot others will give nothing at all.

At the very least, you should receive a donation for your work at weddings, baptisms and funerals.
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2008, 11:14:10 AM »

When I was serving in a ROCOR mission there were actually guidelines in the late 1990's of how donations or Honorariums were divided between the Priest, the Deacon, the Sexton, and the Reader for certain services.  A percentage went to each.  This may come from the old country where people  did not give a tithe to the church but gave gifts and offerings as the above mentioned callings were positions paid by the government.  Even today in many full-functioning parishes, stipends are often paid to Deacon, Sexton, Choir Master or Protopsaltis if part time and salaries if full time. Some parishes may try to protect their Deacons, Readers, Sexton, and Choir Masters from being overworked without compensation by establishing additional fees or honorariums for them. "For the laborer is worthy of his hire." 1 Timothy 5:18. 

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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2008, 11:17:52 AM »

I know some places that will give guidelines for donating to the Church for those who are not members of the Church - essentially so they pay for the actual expenses of the wedding/baptism (i.e. electrical, heating, etc.) - but certainly not for funerals.  As for gratuities (which are a separate issue, methinks), at the Church I'm at presently we don't expect "tips" except for the sexton, who has to put in extra time to be there and has a bit of a travel expense.  Most people will give me something for chanting, but I certainly don't expect it or demand it.  However, I'm also a paid employee of the Church, which helps a bit, since I was already going to be there at that time (chances are).
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2008, 11:33:52 AM »

Y'know...it's interesting how different parts of the country function...

Sometimes my parishioners will make cash donations to the church and to the chanters, but for some of our folks cash money is hard to come by. In the past, I've had to turn down kittens (several of my family members are terribly allergic to animals) or chickens (I have no place to keep them, even if they are good egg layers!), but I have accepted chestnuts, moonshine, and venison.

Probably gifts like these, given to the clergy and chanters, are perhaps 15-20% of the time. Does this happen anywhere else?
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2008, 12:41:04 PM »

Y'know...it's interesting how different parts of the country function...

Sometimes my parishioners will make cash donations to the church and to the chanters, but for some of our folks cash money is hard to come by. In the past, I've had to turn down kittens (several of my family members are terribly allergic to animals) or chickens (I have no place to keep them, even if they are good egg layers!), but I have accepted chestnuts, moonshine, and venison.

Probably gifts like these, given to the clergy and chanters, are perhaps 15-20% of the time. Does this happen anywhere else?

I wish I had your problem.  I would rather take the gifts than the money. 
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2008, 03:06:13 PM »

I wish I had your problem.  I would rather take the gifts than the money. 

Well, it's not a problem; it's just something I had not encountered elsewhere, and I am curious if it's just a 'Bama/Southern US thing, or if it's more widely distributed than I thought. It's actually kind of cool, because I get to try things I never would have come across otherwise.

Besides...do you really think you'd be permitted to keep chickens in your dorm room at HCHC?
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2008, 03:34:09 PM »

Y'know...it's interesting how different parts of the country function...

Sometimes my parishioners will make cash donations to the church and to the chanters, but for some of our folks cash money is hard to come by. In the past, I've had to turn down kittens (several of my family members are terribly allergic to animals) or chickens (I have no place to keep them, even if they are good egg layers!), but I have accepted chestnuts, moonshine, and venison.

Probably gifts like these, given to the clergy and chanters, are perhaps 15-20% of the time. Does this happen anywhere else?

It happens in the midwest! My own priest has received gifts in lieu of a donation for various reasons.   I'm not thinking of any good examples of what he received. I do recall that some of them fell into the "interesting" category. Although, I don't believe he has ever received chickens.  Grin
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2008, 04:59:34 PM »

I've had to turn down kittens (several of my family members are terribly allergic to animals) or chickens (I have no place to keep them, even if they are good egg layers!), but I have accepted chestnuts, moonshine, and venison.

Moonshine hasn't quite reached up to Maine. Cheesy

Our church doesn't charge anything for Baptism, funerals, etc., and is purely donation oriented. And if anyone asks whether a donation would be appropriate, the priest usually gives an emphatic "No!" One usually just has to give him the envelope and scurry away before he can reject (which is what happened at my chrismation).

However, for adult baptisms, people usually pay $300 or so to pay for their first stewardship.

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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2008, 01:48:53 AM »

Well, it's not a problem; it's just something I had not encountered elsewhere, and I am curious if it's just a 'Bama/Southern US thing, or if it's more widely distributed than I thought. It's actually kind of cool, because I get to try things I never would have come across otherwise.

I've seen it all over the place in Chicago, if it makes you feel any better.  And in the old country that's basically the primary form of currency.  You always just give something to the priest.  cuz no one has money. 


Besides...do you really think you'd be permitted to keep chickens in your dorm room at HCHC?

Oh yah...like no one keeps something worse in their rooms.  we're all angels  angel angel

That was a joke for those of you who do not necessarily understand our banter... Cool
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« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2008, 08:58:15 AM »

This is from the website of an Antiochian church, on what is expected for a funeral.  I didn't identify them as to not embarrass them.  But, maybe a pricelist is the way to go.

This type of pricelist is the norm in many places in Palestine and Jordan so it is no surprise that it may be used in an Antiochian parish here in the US.

I have never asked for money for my chanting but I have had priest tell people if they wanted me that would have to pay me. I would never dream of accepting money from any of my friends to chant at a sacrament but if I don't know a person I have no problem taking the money from them and then giving a large portion of it to the church. Usually I just take out my expenses such as gas.

There have also been parishes that have offered to fly me in, put me up and pay me a couple of thousand dollars to chant Holy Week for them. While I have never taken any of them up on the offer because of other responsibilities, the offer has been tempting many times.
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« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2008, 12:27:46 PM »

Our parish takes up an offering every Sunday for the choir. I believe the "professional" musicians receive some of this money, but the others receive nothing.

I must admit, I come from a very simple tradition, where there was beautiful congregational singing (children were taught four part harmony from a young age), and the pastors had day jobs and volunteered their time and talents for the church-never requesting any form of payment. A totally different system. I remember the terrible shock I received while waiting in the narthex for my Orthodox  baptism to begin. I began reading a paper tacked to the bulletin board- to my shock there were prices listed for baptisms, weddings, funerals!!!!! I was a very poor student at the time and had no inkling that I was expected to pay at least $100 in order to get baptised!!!  It seemed very crass  and I couldn't imagine anything like this taking place in the Early Church. This sudden, unexpected bit of information moments before my baptism truly cast a bit of a pall over the proceedings...it was hard for me to concentrate instead of worrying how I was ever  going to scrape together $100. Of course I do understand that many priests do not have day jobs and this is a way of giving a donation.
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« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2008, 05:17:18 PM »

As a chanter, I'm sometimes called upon to do weddings, baptisms, and funerals outside of the normal cycle of services.  I never ask for anything, but usually my priest will give me a portion of honorarium that the family gives him.
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« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2008, 07:26:13 PM »

Our parish takes up an offering every Sunday for the choir. I believe the "professional" musicians receive some of this money, but the others receive nothing.

I must admit, I come from a very simple tradition, where there was beautiful congregational singing (children were taught four part harmony from a young age), and the pastors had day jobs and volunteered their time and talents for the church-never requesting any form of payment. A totally different system. I remember the terrible shock I received while waiting in the narthex for my Orthodox  baptism to begin. I began reading a paper tacked to the bulletin board- to my shock there were prices listed for baptisms, weddings, funerals!!!!! I was a very poor student at the time and had no inkling that I was expected to pay at least $100 in order to get baptised!!!  It seemed very crass  and I couldn't imagine anything like this taking place in the Early Church. This sudden, unexpected bit of information moments before my baptism truly cast a bit of a pall over the proceedings...it was hard for me to concentrate instead of worrying how I was ever  going to scrape together $100. Of course I do understand that many priests do not have day jobs and this is a way of giving a donation.

Out of curiosity do you know if the "price list" went to the parish/parish council/treasurer?  I have seen parish constitutions from the first half of the 1900's that stated that a person had to pay 12 dollars to receive a sacrament (not communion) and if the person didn't have the 12 dollars the priest was to pay the parish the 12 dollars out of his pocket.  So maybe this was the parish's price and the money went to their bank and not the bank.
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« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2008, 07:37:13 PM »

Out of curiosity do you know if the "price list" went to the parish/parish council/treasurer?  I have seen parish constitutions from the first half of the 1900's that stated that a person had to pay 12 dollars to receive a sacrament (not communion) and if the person didn't have the 12 dollars the priest was to pay the parish the 12 dollars out of his pocket.  So maybe this was the parish's price and the money went to their bank and not the bank.

Oh, that's a good question, but I don't have the answer. This $12 fee I find totally appalling too. Hopefully I'll understand some day. Which reminds me of another thing I find off-putting- the Akathist; when parishoners lay their prayer request list in the basket beside the priest, along with a "donation" in another basket...

If I offend, please forgive me, and help me to understand the reason behind all of this. Thank you!
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« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2008, 11:27:43 PM »

In the past, I've had to turn down kittens (several of my family members are terribly allergic to animals) or chickens (I have no place to keep them, even if they are good egg layers!), but I have accepted chestnuts, moonshine, and venison.

 Grin Grin Grin  Oh I needed that laugh!!!!!!  Thank you, FrChris!!!
My Dad had a restaurant out in Oglethorpe County, GA (VERY rural Georgia), and he used to get all kinds of gifts from his customers (they loved the strange little foreign man from the country they'd never heard of).  He got a LOT of moonshine from one guy whose still recently blew up (and the moonshine was so strong that he started bringing it in thermoses because it was burning holes in the styrofoam cups he had been using before).  He got lots of venison.  He got a disco ball made out of plastic cups and Christmas lights.  He got a squeeking rubber chicken (which was a joke from a guy who had tried to bring him freshly killed chicken to sell, which of course my Dad couldn't sell because it's against health codes).  He got all kinds of electronic gadgets and appliances that "just needed a little fixin,'" which never worked.  All kinds of strange things (some of which it wouldn't be proper to post here)...

Somehow I missed this topic before...

I was the chanter at my home parish for about ten years.  My priest was always kind enough to mention to people that it was proper to tip the chanter.  I never knew that he did that until about two months before I left to go to HCHC (and Serb1389, can you just imagine George G's face if you brought chickens into the dorm??!!!).  I was always surprised and grateful that they tipped me.  I never expected it, and I still never would, because I agree that it is a gift from God and the glory is not mine but His.  But I am always grateful for it when it happens.
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« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2008, 01:53:10 AM »

LMAO.  chickens might be a welcome change of scenery.  the africans would definately like it.  Most of them live on my floor now. 

I do like your perspective in general.  Sometimes we do need to be cuthroat about it, I mean...I do have needs...i'm trying to pay for a wedding!  lol.  i'm sure you know what i'm talking about Pres.   Wink
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« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2008, 09:32:52 AM »

LMAO.  chickens might be a welcome change of scenery.  the africans would definately like it.  Most of them live on my floor now. 
You could set up a pen for the chickens in the lounge!



I do like your perspective in general.  Sometimes we do need to be cuthroat about it, I mean...I do have needs...i'm trying to pay for a wedding!  lol.  i'm sure you know what i'm talking about Pres.   Wink
I gotcha!  I certainly remember that feeling...
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« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2008, 09:36:45 AM »

I gotcha!  I certainly remember that feeling...

Uh-huh.  Tell me about it...
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"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the one who can't read them." Mark Twain
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Ordained on 17 & 18-Oct 2009. Please forgive me if earlier posts are poorly worded or incorrect in any way.
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