Author Topic: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?  (Read 1560 times)

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Offline Joel

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Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« on: December 09, 2008, 11:17:50 PM »
I have been Orthodox for almost a year now, but Private devotions is a subject that was not covered in catachetical discussions. Yes, I understand the need to pray daily, morning and evening, read the scriptures and lives of the saints- but how? Is there any tradition(s) regarding private prayer being prayed aloud vs. silently; sung vs. said? How about physical postures? Facing East? Before you shower, or after breakfast? Are there different answers from different jurisdictions?

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2008, 11:32:08 PM »
I can only tell you what I do as part of my private practices, I've received no formal instruction from priests about whether this is correct or not. I say my prayers aloud, mostly because I usually pray with my wife. If I'm alone, I say them in a whisper; I also sometimes do a monotone chant for some parts if I'm alone. I do the normal bows that are expected during prayers, but I rarely do prostrations. Our prayer corner is set up to be facing east, which is the way you are traditionally supposed to be facing when you pray. Generally when prayers are said depends on various factors (work, etc.), and isn't the exact same time every day. I try to read 4 pages from the Bible a day (2 NT and 2 OT); using the Bible that I use--or at least have used up until recently--that gets me through the OT in a year, and through the NT multiple times. I don't read the Fathers as regularly as I once did, but now usually just read them in book form from time to time (whereas I used to read them online daily). I spend at least half an hour to an hour reading other spirtual material during the day, mostly books. I also count posting here as part of my spiritual life, as I tend to look up scriptures, Church Fathers, etc. for posts made here.

Fwiw, this recent thread might be of some interest to you.
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2008, 05:22:19 AM »
No other comments on this thread? I thought that this was the type of thread that people had been wanting, less theological and more practical...
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2008, 08:40:19 AM »
We usually pray in the evenings, since it's difficult getting three people ready for the day and finding time to pray before work/school/etc. In the evening, we're all more relaxed and focused. I usually chant, but my wife doesn't feel comfortable with chanting, so she usually just speaks her part normally.
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2008, 10:13:45 AM »
I usually chant recitando or speak my prayers.  Sometimes when I know a hymn and I like a melody I will sing it.

I have to admit sometimes I am praying while I am driving late to work! But when things are as they should be, it would be best to pray upon waking up.

As far as posture, sure, if you can face east, do it.  If not, do your best to do what you can.

If you are receiving antidoron daily (some priests give it to people to consume at home) then you would wake up, brush teeth, pray morning prayers, take antidoron, and then eat breakfast. You should never brush teeth after receiving antidoron (or holy communion for that matter!!!) for at least a few hours.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2008, 10:18:17 AM »
I have been Orthodox for almost a year now, but Private devotions is a subject that was not covered in catachetical discussions. Yes, I understand the need to pray daily, morning and evening, read the scriptures and lives of the saints- but how? Is there any tradition(s) regarding private prayer being prayed aloud vs. silently; sung vs. said? How about physical postures? Facing East? Before you shower, or after breakfast? Are there different answers from different jurisdictions?

It all depends on what you're doing, and on your discipline level.  That's why it's always best to make a plan with a priest, and stick to it, and build on it with some guidance.

When reading simple prayer services (like what you'll find in the Daily Prayer-type books/booklets), there isn't much there to be sung, so read is good; however, I wouldn't recommend reading them silently until you've done them hundreds of times.  Speaking aloud engages more senses, which is a hallmark of Orthodox worship - you're not only committing the prayer to your memory and thoughts, but you're channeling them to your language centers and, since you're saying them aloud, you're engaging your hearing as well.  Eventually, the prayers become a part of you (I pray that we all get to this point!), and the distinction between saying them aloud and praying them silently will melt away (it won't matter anymore).

As for timing, I've always found that first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, are the best times; we should say a brief prayer before every task we undertake, but for a "daily routine," it is best to either pray before doing anything (i.e. right when you roll out of bed), and/or pray when everything is done (except sleep).  This would parallel the Orthodox worship cycle, which has prayers at the earliest hour of the morning (Matins/Orthros), and the latest hours of the evening (Compline).

You may indeed find different answers coming from folks of different jurisdictions - but the right mix will be unique to you, which is why consulting with a priest on this is a good idea.  You don't want to start off with too much, for if the cycle gets broken it will be too easy to not start it again; if the cycle is too light, then you're not utilizing your potential adequately.  Go to your parish priest, or another priest you trust; if you don't have any priest with whom you have a close relationship, then attempt to build one.  Heck, I'd even say to enter into a dialogue with one of our resident priests here (we have many on the site, in case you didn't notice); each one will not only be willing to build a relationship with you, but each one has the familiarity with Orthodox prayer life to help you get started with a good routine.
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Offline Lily

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2008, 11:53:29 AM »


I have to admit sometimes I am praying while I am driving late to work! But when things are as they should be, it would be best to pray upon waking up.

.

When I was working downtown I used to use my 1/2 hr morning train ride for prayers and my readings.   ;)  An added bonus is hardly anyone ever wanted to sit next to me!

Offline theosis

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2008, 12:19:49 PM »
I don't read the Fathers as regularly as I once did, but now usually just read them in book form from time to time (whereas I used to read them online daily)...

Studying your Orthodox Faith, I hear many times people quote the Early Fathers when discussing issues with others. Many also use this as a way to determine what the church believes and stands for. I've been hearing people quote the early Church fathers to support the primacy(or supremacy) of Peter being the bishop of the entire church... This reminds me when protestants back up their argument with a bible quote, however when you read the entire chapter from where the quote was taken from, you find it does not have anything to do with what they claim. This happens on the news channels as well when they capture someone saying some extreme comment and broadcasting it looped over and over again in regards to some issue/event that is happening. However when you watch the whole interview, you find out they left out many other things and use that one clip to present a one-sided story. I didnt mean to get off subject, but I say this because I would like to read the Church Fathers completely and entirely, not just hear about one or 2 sentences and consider their entire belief/opinion to be that. Can you give me the link or the name of some books where I can read the Church Fathers?

Thank you and may Our Lord's peace be with you.

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2008, 12:28:50 PM »
The place I usually went to when reading the Fathers online, and still usually go to when referencing them, is the Christian Classics Ethereal Library; there is also the Catholic site New Advent, and the Orthodox site Saint Pachomius Library. Regarding books about the Fathers, most Orthodox publishers have some books that would be relevant, for example St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Eastern Christian Supply Company, and Light & Life.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2008, 12:37:01 PM by Asteriktos »
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Private prayers: Chanted (sung), said aloud, or silently?
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2008, 04:28:18 PM »
I personally just read the prayers aloud in a regular voice.  Sometimes I have tried a monotone chant, but this really just feels uncomfortable to me at this point.  I spend half of my time wondering if I am doing it correctly and forget to pay attention to the words of the prayers.

I do sometimes sing certain parts.  For example, I might sing prayers that I have memorized the melodies for from liturgy, like "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal..." or "More honorable...", but that's about it.