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Author Topic: Use of "Carol of the Bells" in Orthodox Churches?  (Read 1968 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: September 17, 2009, 12:34:24 PM »

I was listening to music by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir yesterday and noticed that they sung the song commonly known as the "Carol of the Bells". I asked some friend yesterday night at Church (because I didn't know what song it was, nor why it was on an Orthodox CD) and found out it is a Ukrainian Song, composed by a Ukrainian man whose father was an Orthodox Priest and who he himself had also attended a theological school. Though the original Ukrainian version isn't really spiritual or in relation to the Nativity, I was curious if this song is ever used at Nativity by Orthodox Churches?

As an aside/fyi... Since it's the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, I thought it'd be interesting to note that the Troparion, O Lord Save Thy People, is one of the main songs featured in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. (especially at the beginning, then again at the end)
However, at the time, the words were different, instead of saying "Grant Victory to Orthodox Christians" the words instead said "Grant Victory to the God-Fearing Czar".
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2009, 01:07:50 PM »



I am to a Ukrainian Orthodox church and we do NOT sing the Carole of the Bells "in" church. 

During the Nativity season we will sing a number of "religious" carols, but not this one. 

Carol of the Bells is actually a "new years" song, having nothing to do with Christmas.

The kids often sing it on stage (Ukrainian version) during the school play, but, I have never heard it sung in church.

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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 01:43:13 PM »

I've never heard that but, at the same time, carol of the bells has become so secularized that it has no place in the church.  One of the things that our church choir does after Liturgy during the Nativity fast is to sing Western carols as people venerate the cross which I think is not only inappropriate but totally alien to the eastern ethos.  Western Carols, as good as they are, cannot hold a candle to the theological depth of Eastern Rite Hymnody.  So, they shouldn't be sung, but I'm afraid I'm a minority.

Also, Tchaikovsky's use of "Lord, save Thy People" is hardly unique. If you listen to Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture you will note that he uses "Hristos voskrese" frequently throughout as he does the Paschal stichera beginining with "Let God arise". Other secular Russian composers also appropriate Russian hymns into their symphonies. 
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 03:39:37 PM »

One of the things that our church choir does after Liturgy during the Nativity fast is to sing Western carols as people venerate the cross which I think is not only inappropriate but totally alien to the eastern ethos.  Western Carols, as good as they are, cannot hold a candle to the theological depth of Eastern Rite Hymnody.  So, they shouldn't be sung, but I'm afraid I'm a minority.
Inappropriate...  to sing carols in church, even though you're singing them outside of any liturgical service?

Alien to the Eastern ethos...  Why is this a problem?  Must we hold only to that which is Eastern (i.e., organic to a particular geographical region, which in itself does not confine Truth)?  Does Western automatically mean inferior just because it's Western?  Faithfulness to Orthodoxy does not necessarily mean rejection of all things Western, as though nothing good could ever come out of the West.

Maybe you've already answered this in some other thread some time ago, but are you opposed to the use of the Western Rite in Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2009, 04:33:54 PM »

In my parish we have never sung "Carol of the Bells," Ukrainian or not.

We will sing "Silent Night" at the end of the Christmas service, and our Church bells will play "Silent Night" as we leave. It's just lovely.  Smiley

(We need a sentimental tear emoticon)
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2009, 04:34:42 PM »

No, PtA, I am not opposed to the WR.  In fact, I am an ardent supporter of them as I have said many times before. However, I do not advocate for mixing or blending of the two rites. If you are ER, do that; if you are WR, do that.  For instance, I don't advocate WRs using "Phos Hilaron" at their Vespers nor do I advocate ERs using the Venite at our Matins.  It is liturgical schizophrenia.  There are some, albeit a very tiny minority, who want to create one rite using some western and some eastern and that is an affront.

It is inappropriate to sing carols during the veneration of the cross for several reasons.  One, there should be  contemplative silence in the church as we kiss and adore the cross through which salvation came and hear the post-communion prayers as we leave.  The addition of carols produces an air of frivolity which should never be.
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2009, 04:45:41 PM »

And yet the Carpatho-Rusyn churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, are well known for singing of all sorts of paraliturgical hymns during "moments of silence".  It's one of the things I miss most.
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2009, 04:53:28 PM »


Why would you be hearing the post-Communion prayers while approaching the cross?  Those are said/sung immediately after Communion, not when the Liturgy has been completed.

I disagree with joyful singing being equated with frivolity.

There is nothing more joyful than hearing "Christ is Risen" sung in church!  Everyone is smiling and happy - but not frivolous.

Nowhere does it say the Orthodox must be dour and glum. 

Same holds true for the Nativity.  We certainly do not sing Santa Clause is Coming to Town or Rocking Around the Christmas Tree! 

In truth we sing only religious based Nativity hymns. 

We sing:

Бог предвічний

Бог предвічний народився, Прийшов днесь із небес, Щоб спасти люд свій ввесь І утішився.

God Eternal

Eternal God was born, Came down from Heaven to save all His people, ...


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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2009, 05:08:02 PM »


Why would you be hearing the post-Communion prayers while approaching the cross?  Those are said/sung immediately after Communion, not when the Liturgy has been completed.


Some parishes do, indeed, say/sing the prayers after liturgy, but your overall point is spot on Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2009, 05:12:15 PM »

Why would you be hearing the post-Communion prayers while approaching the cross?  Those are said/sung immediately after Communion, not when the Liturgy has been completed.
Actually, in at least three of the Orthodox churches in my city (two OCA and one GOA), the post-Communion prayers are read after the Liturgy as the faithful venerate the cross and receive antidoron.  You may be thinking of a much briefer prayer ("We thank You, loving master...", according to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) that the celebrant will read immediately after Communion.

I disagree with joyful singing being equated with frivolity.
As do I.  In fact, our choir director has taken to singing a non-liturgical hymn after the Liturgy and before the post-Communion prayers even on regular Sundays as a way to keep the post-liturgical chatter down before we read the post-Communion prayers.  (In my parish, even the prayers themselves don't do much to keep people from chattering as they await the priest's blessing, which often requires the reader to chant in a louder-than-optimal voice that can further strain vocal cords already tired after three straight hours of singing.  Ironically, we use music to keep the noise down.)
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« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2009, 05:23:21 PM »

Devin,

Our parish will sing familiar Christmas carols after Liturgy, but we do want them to remain consistent with Orthodox theology. They may not be part of the Liturgy, but they are being sung at church, and so we want them to at least not hinder what we preach. So we'll sing songs like "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Silent Night," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," etc., but not the ilk of "Jingle Bells" or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." "Carol of the Bells" falls firmly into the latter category. It may describe a lovely winter scene familiar to many of us in parts of the United States in which there is a church which rings bells at Nativity, but it does nothing for us theologically. So it's right out.
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2009, 05:28:24 PM »

As an aside/fyi... Since it's the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, I thought it'd be interesting to note that the Troparion, O Lord Save Thy People, is one of the main songs featured in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. (especially at the beginning, then again at the end)

The melody used in the 1812 Overture, which is also the one used for the troparion to the Cross, is one of the standard melodies for Tone 1. Various other Orthodox hymns are sung to this melody. Tchaikovsky used the musical motif of O God, save Your people as this troparion was for centuries a kind of unofficial battle hymn.

Quote
However, at the time, the words were different, instead of saying "Grant Victory to Orthodox Christians" the words instead said "Grant Victory to the God-Fearing Czar".

Pre-1917 liturgical texts indeed referred to the Tsar or Emperor, not just in the troparion to the Cross, but in many other hymns, from many feasts. After the abolition of the monarchy, references to the Emperor were understandably changed to Orthodox Christians.

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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2009, 06:00:01 PM »

Devin,

Our parish will sing familiar Christmas carols after Liturgy, but we do want them to remain consistent with Orthodox theology. They may not be part of the Liturgy, but they are being sung at church, and so we want them to at least not hinder what we preach. So we'll sing songs like "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Silent Night," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," etc., but not the ilk of "Jingle Bells" or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." "Carol of the Bells" falls firmly into the latter category. It may describe a lovely winter scene familiar to many of us in parts of the United States in which there is a church which rings bells at Nativity, but it does nothing for us theologically. So it's right out.

Ah, I didn't know what the english lyrics to Carol of the Bells actually was. I figured it was another song about Nativity and not just about the winter. (I probably ought to do a little more research)

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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2009, 06:05:45 PM »


Why would you be hearing the post-Communion prayers while approaching the cross?  Those are said/sung immediately after Communion, not when the Liturgy has been completed.

I disagree with joyful singing being equated with frivolity.

There is nothing more joyful than hearing "Christ is Risen" sung in church!  Everyone is smiling and happy - but not frivolous.

Nowhere does it say the Orthodox must be dour and glum. 

Same holds true for the Nativity.  We certainly do not sing Santa Clause is Coming to Town or Rocking Around the Christmas Tree! 

In truth we sing only religious based Nativity hymns. 

We sing:

Бог предвічний

Бог предвічний народився, Прийшов днесь із небес, Щоб спасти люд свій ввесь І утішився.

God Eternal

Eternal God was born, Came down from Heaven to save all His people, ...




I never said that the Orthodox should be dour and glum.  Obviously you didn't read what I wrote!  I was talking about proper respect and decorum to be paid at the time we venerate the cross.  As much as I don't like the reading of the post-communion prayers after Liturgy especially when people are talking , that is what my priest wants.  Frivolity is not the same thing as being jovial.  I'm all for that. But singing secular western christmas carols is NOT part of the Eastern Rite.  If you read what I had written, you would have noticed that I am very opposed to any conflation or mixing of the two rites.
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« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2009, 06:14:49 PM »


Why would you be hearing the post-Communion prayers while approaching the cross?  Those are said/sung immediately after Communion, not when the Liturgy has been completed.

I disagree with joyful singing being equated with frivolity.

There is nothing more joyful than hearing "Christ is Risen" sung in church!  Everyone is smiling and happy - but not frivolous.

Nowhere does it say the Orthodox must be dour and glum. 

Same holds true for the Nativity.  We certainly do not sing Santa Clause is Coming to Town or Rocking Around the Christmas Tree! 

In truth we sing only religious based Nativity hymns. 

We sing:

Бог предвічний

Бог предвічний народився, Прийшов днесь із небес, Щоб спасти люд свій ввесь І утішився.

God Eternal

Eternal God was born, Came down from Heaven to save all His people, ...




I never said that the Orthodox should be dour and glum.  Obviously you didn't read what I wrote!  I was talking about proper respect and decorum to be paid at the time we venerate the cross.  As much as I don't like the reading of the post-communion prayers after Liturgy especially when people are talking , that is what my priest wants.  Frivolity is not the same thing as being jovial.  I'm all for that. But singing secular western christmas carols is NOT part of the Eastern Rite.  If you read what I had written, you would have noticed that I am very opposed to any conflation or mixing of the two rites.
But one can say--and I will argue--that singing "Western" hymns after, and thus outside, a liturgical service of the Church is NOT a conflation of the Eastern and Western rites.  One wonders if the concept of "rite" even applies to what happens after the liturgy.


BTW, just because someone infers from your words something you didn't mean to imply doesn't mean that she didn't read what you wrote.
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« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2009, 06:15:14 PM »

I'm also wondering how many Orthodox Churches are thinking about taking up the Cappella Romana & Alexander Lingas "Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ" music that is featured on the CD... I think from an interview on AFR that I heard a while back, that they came up with Orthodox Carols & Hymns for Christmas that are stylistically Orthodox and theologically Orthodox.
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« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2009, 06:18:01 PM »

I'm also wondering how many Orthodox Churches are thinking about taking up the Cappella Romana & Alexander Lingas "Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ" music that is featured on the CD... I think from an interview on AFR that I heard a while back, that they came up with Orthodox Carols & Hymns for Christmas that are stylistically Orthodox and theologically Orthodox.
The work of composing musical settings of liturgical hymns, particularly to adapt them to appropriate local musical idioms, is still an ongoing work of the Church.  I guess it can be seen as part of the work of translating the services into the language of the vernacular. Wink
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« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2009, 06:22:21 PM »

In some Catholic hagiography, saints have heard the sound of angelic singing during the high point of the Mass - I'm guessing this doesn't happen in Orthodox hagiography? Is singing ever seen as solemn?
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« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2009, 09:46:47 PM »

Saints and even non-Saints have reported hearing angels singing during services... Even when services aren't going on in the Church.

Worship in the Liturgy is after all, not just something going on in that physical place in time and space, but something that is going on in eternity as well. We join not just our brothers and sisters around the world in Liturgy, but all eternity in the worship.
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« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2009, 10:40:23 PM »

BTW, just because someone infers from your words something you didn't mean to imply doesn't mean that she didn't read what you wrote.

Then she should read more carefully.
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« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2009, 11:06:27 PM »

Even if someone reads your post, they still don't know A LOT... What is said online is as easy to misinterpret as things such as text messages (for an analogy). You can say one thing, but the person may take it entirely differently because they aren't speaking to you face to face.
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« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2009, 01:20:37 AM »

^Which is why it is better to err on the side of caution and say nothing even though there was nothing in my post that could have lead you to your conclusion.
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« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2009, 01:33:56 AM »

^Which is why it is better to err on the side of caution and say nothing even though there was nothing in my post that could have lead you to your conclusion.
Now, are we talking about how people should read your posts, or are we talking about what we should or should not sing in church? Wink
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« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2009, 03:42:28 AM »

^Which is why it is better to err on the side of caution and say nothing even though there was nothing in my post that could have lead you to your conclusion.

Or you should err on the side of caution and never post anything that could be misinterpreted?  Wink A whole lot of short posts a-coming then!

Thanks Devin, I was prepared to be a bit surprised if that weren't the case.
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« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2009, 09:41:15 AM »


Why would you be hearing the post-Communion prayers while approaching the cross?  Those are said/sung immediately after Communion, not when the Liturgy has been completed.

I disagree with joyful singing being equated with frivolity.

There is nothing more joyful than hearing "Christ is Risen" sung in church!  Everyone is smiling and happy - but not frivolous.

Nowhere does it say the Orthodox must be dour and glum. 

Same holds true for the Nativity.  We certainly do not sing Santa Clause is Coming to Town or Rocking Around the Christmas Tree! 

In truth we sing only religious based Nativity hymns. 

We sing:

Бог предвічний

Бог предвічний народився, Прийшов днесь із небес, Щоб спасти люд свій ввесь І утішився.

God Eternal

Eternal God was born, Came down from Heaven to save all His people, ...


Liz, every Sunday after Liturgy is over our parish says the Prayers of Thanskgiving After Communion found in the Antiochian Liturgicon.  The reason I know this it is that as the Subdeacon for our parish it is one of my appointed tasks to lead those prayers while the Priest and Deacon consume the remaining communion. This may be one of those  little "t" traditions that is not practiced everywhere.  When I was serving in a ROCOR parish, everyone was supposed to read these prayers before leaving the church, but they were read silently and individually, that may be the case in your tradition.

Thomas
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« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2009, 10:08:30 AM »


It is inappropriate to sing carols during the veneration of the cross for several reasons.  One, there should be  contemplative silence in the church as we kiss and adore the cross through which salvation came and hear the post-communion prayers as we leave.  The addition of carols produces an air of frivolity which should never be.


I disagree with joyful singing being equated with frivolity.

There is nothing more joyful than hearing "Christ is Risen" sung in church!  Everyone is smiling and happy - but not frivolous.


In truth we sing only religious based Nativity hymns.

We sing:

Бог предвічний

Бог предвічний народився, Прийшов днесь із небес, Щоб спасти люд свій ввесь І утішився.

God Eternal

Eternal God was born, Came down from Heaven to save all His people, ...


I never said that the Orthodox should be dour and glum.  Obviously you didn't read what I wrote!  I was talking about proper respect and decorum to be paid at the time we venerate the cross. 

I'm not sure why you infer that I did not "read" your post.  I did.  Plus, I just re-read it....and I still understood it the way I did the first time I read it.  You said, and I quote "It is inappropriate to sing carols during the veneration of the cross for several reasons.  The addition of carols produces an air of frivolity which should never be."

...to which I responded that the "carols" we sing in our church do NOT add frivolity.  They are of a religious nature, glorifying the wonderful event of the Messiah's birth.  If I recall, the angels in the Heavens were singing when the Good News was announced to the shepherds.  No?

Maybe you should read what I wrote before you jump on me.  Might it be that instead of my misunderstanding you, that you misunderstood me?

Honestly, I can't understand why you are upset with what I said.

Please forgive me if I offended you, because that was certainly never my intention.


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« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2009, 11:28:52 AM »

^Liza, no need to ask for forgiveness; you've done nothing wrong.  I should ask instead for forgiveness because I pounced on you for asking legitimate questions.

However, I still stand by my assertions that the singing of Western carols, which overtly have religious significance have become so secularlized and playful which is not appropriate in any church setting, pre-Liturgy, post-Liturgy, during Liturgy, etc.  Besides, this is the time that people should be listening and/or praying the post communion prayers for themselves before they leave and there should be silence! Of course, it doesn't help when most of the congregation was so poorly catechized and doesn't understand the value of prayer, both before and after, the Eucharist, but that is a discussion for another time.
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« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2009, 11:34:42 AM »



It's all good.

As for the post-Communal prayers being "interrupted" by the singing of hymns after the Liturgy....that would not be the case at my parish, as the post-Communal prayers are said/sung immediately after Communion, not after the Liturgy.

 Wink

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« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2009, 03:23:58 PM »

^I wonder if that is a different between Slavic jurisdictions and Syro-Greek jurisdictions.
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« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2009, 11:57:25 PM »

In fact, I am an ardent supporter of them as I have said many times before. However, I do not advocate for mixing or blending of the two rites. If you are ER, do that; if you are WR, do that.  For instance, I don't advocate WRs using "Phos Hilaron" at their Vespers nor do I advocate ERs using the Venite at our Matins.  It is liturgical schizophrenia.  There are some, albeit a very tiny minority, who want to create one rite using some western and some eastern and that is an affront.
I'm quite surprised by this reaction scamandrius. All liturgical practices develop over time and blend traditions. Church bells, for instance, were not originally an "Eastern" thing, they were "Western". Communion by Intinction was also first practiced in the West as I understand. The "Eastern" Church in the United States is introducing pews & organs ("Western" church practices). Why does there have to be an "apartheid" between "Eastern Rite" and "Western Rite" in those Churches which have Western Rite parishes? I don't see why it is an "affront" that those Churches should blend Rites- its going to eventually happen anyway.
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