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Author Topic: Organs in Greek Orthodox Churches  (Read 27082 times) Average Rating: 0
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Deacon Lance
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« Reply #45 on: May 06, 2004, 03:15:24 PM »

They were burning incense to idols while the martyrs were being martyred also, not a strong arguement.
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« Reply #46 on: May 06, 2004, 03:23:34 PM »

History of the Pipe Organ, beginnings through 800 A.D.:

http://panther.bsc.edu/~jhcook/OrgHist/begin.htm

Started, apparently by a Greek in Alexandria.

Ebor

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« Reply #47 on: May 06, 2004, 04:20:29 PM »

Nice article, Ebor -- anyone know how the eastern churches reacted to all this?

Still curious as to why they're not accepted.
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« Reply #48 on: May 06, 2004, 07:00:44 PM »

They were burning incense to idols while the martyrs were being martyred also, not a strong arguement.

I agree, Deacon Lance. I now am beginning to question all the bad-mouthing that the Greek parishes are taking over organs after viewing this thread.
I tended to agree about "modernizations"  before, but now think I need to re-visit my thinking on organs, and pews and those that dwell on trivialities in their zeal to appear more Orthodox (as if that phrase makes sense).

Demetri
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« Reply #49 on: May 06, 2004, 10:44:33 PM »

Sorry, maybe I'm just tired.  But I just don't see anything wrong with having an organ in church.   From what I've read they seem to be found in GOA parishes in the US and I would gather that they got there because some hardworking immigrants wanted to have what they considered good things in their churches.  Considering how long organs have been extant, I don't see how they're "moderizations".  And I *Don't* see how having instruments playing is somehow not honouring God in music.  The human voice is wonderful and so is music played on instruments.  We have both due to God's creation.

Sometimes this seems to come across as proving ones zeal by being as different as possible from any Western Christian church.  Well, there are some of those who didn't/don't allow any instruments either, but only the human voice. John Calvin wrote against it:

http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/InstCalv.htm

As well as others.
http://www.gty.org/~phil/dabney/organs.htm

Part of their dislike seems to have been along the lines of "The RC's/English Church(Anglicans I'd gather/etc use instruments. We're not like Them.  We're serious believers, so we don't use instruments."  
 
My apologies for sounding cranky.

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« Reply #50 on: May 06, 2004, 11:48:32 PM »

I agree, Deacon Lance. I now am beginning to question all the bad-mouthing that the Greek parishes are taking over organs after viewing this thread.
I tended to agree about "modernizations"  before, but now think I need to re-visit my thinking on organs, and pews and those that dwell on trivialities in their zeal to appear more Orthodox (as if that phrase makes sense).

Demetri

Pews inhibit prostrations although I am not a stickler about them.  Organs though have got to go. Period.  They ruin Byzantine Chant.  If we want more congregational participation, it won't happen until the organ is removed.

Byzantine chant is so beautiful, especially in English.  Organs just ruin the whole experience.

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« Reply #51 on: May 07, 2004, 01:16:35 AM »

Considering how long organs have been extant, I don't see how they're "moderizations".  And I *Don't* see how having instruments playing is somehow not honouring God in music.  The human voice is wonderful and so is music played on instruments.  We have both due to God's creation.

Sometimes this seems to come across as proving ones zeal by being as different as possible from any Western Christian church.

Well put, Ebor.

Anastasios -- I see your point about Byzantine chant being inhibited by organ music -- but what about Russian chant?  A lot of the things we sing in Divine Liturgy (by Bortniansky (sp?), for example) would sound fabulous with some accompaniment, I think.
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« Reply #52 on: May 07, 2004, 01:20:20 AM »

Pedro,

Ugh, no way.  I don't like many of the Russian choral compositions anyway. Smiley  I prefer Znamenny chant and Kievan chant.  My favorite chant though is Carpatho-Rusyn prostopinje which is sung congregationally.

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« Reply #53 on: May 07, 2004, 01:56:40 AM »

I don't know, Pedro...I think a lot of Russian choral stuff would sound horrible with accompaniment.  I shudder to think of an organ playing Bortniansky's Cherubic Hymn with a choir.
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« Reply #54 on: May 07, 2004, 12:02:19 PM »

Pedro, I think an organ would really throw people with Russian choral music.  The Russian choral tradition has become so elaborate & advanced, that acompaniment (sp?) would push it over the top (and there are already peices that are over the top even without it).  
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« Reply #55 on: May 07, 2004, 12:21:00 PM »

If we want more congregational participation, it won't happen until the organ is removed.

Removing the organ isn't going to help that, necessarily. Where there is a tradition of non-participation, the presence or absence of an organ isn't going to make a difference.
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« Reply #56 on: May 07, 2004, 04:14:50 PM »

Removing the organ isn't going to help that, necessarily. Where there is a tradition of non-participation, the presence or absence of an organ isn't going to make a difference.

Very true; my wife and I are both in our church's choir and it bugs us to no end that we (the choir) are almost the ONLY ones you can hear singing in our Church.

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ania: Pedro, I think an organ would really throw people with Russian choral music.  The Russian choral tradition has become so elaborate & advanced, that acompaniment (sp?) would push it over the top (and there are already peices that are over the top even without it).

OK, so I could be off here.  We just have a "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord" that I would love to hear w/an organ; that's what prompted my initial comment.  By "over the top," I assume you mean that people would be less inclined to treat it as prayer and more inclined to treat it as a concert?
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« Reply #57 on: May 07, 2004, 04:35:20 PM »

Keble and Pedro,

I am very aware of this.  Choirs help obscure congregational paticipation if they are not used correctly as well.  The priest has to actively prod the people until they participate, and it has to be gentle enough not to alientate them.

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« Reply #58 on: May 07, 2004, 04:47:56 PM »

Keble and Pedro,

I am very aware of this.  Choirs help obscure congregational paticipation if they are not used correctly as well.  The priest has to actively prod the people until they participate, and it has to be gentle enough not to alientate them.

anastasios
I have to agree here. If they would just turn the volume down -way down - it wouldn't be so bad. I like to be able to hear my own voice when I sing (not speaking as to what the rest of the congregation thinks of my meager talents, of course).

Demetri
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« Reply #59 on: May 07, 2004, 04:58:46 PM »

I have to agree here. If they would just turn the volume down -way down - it wouldn't be so bad.

From my point of view, though, I have to wonder: if we "turned the volume down," would Father just be responding to mumbled, feeble "Lord have mercies"?
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« Reply #60 on: May 07, 2004, 05:33:09 PM »

Pedro,

At first, yes.  But when the people see that no one is going to pick up the slack for them, and Father encourages them, they will respond.  I have been to a parish where congregational Byzantine Chanting was restored.

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« Reply #61 on: May 07, 2004, 05:40:59 PM »

I don't know if I am totally for congregational singing. Yes, it encourages more participation in the service, but at the same time God has each given us certain gifts. Some have not been given the gift of having a musical ear. Bad singing definately does not create a prayerful atmosphere.
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« Reply #62 on: May 07, 2004, 05:59:05 PM »

No, and I know this because the singing in my parish can be bad often enough (all congregational singing...it's not so much bad singing as it is people who can't sing for ____ singing loud).  But if they want to, they can be good, and when they are good...well, my parish's Liturgy could beat up your parish's Liturgy any day of the week.  Tongue
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« Reply #63 on: May 07, 2004, 07:25:12 PM »

No, and I know this because the singing in my parish can be bad often enough (all congregational singing...it's not so much bad singing as it is people who can't sing for ____ singing loud).  But if they want to, they can be good, and when they are good...well, my parish's Liturgy could beat up your parish's Liturgy any day of the week.  Tongue

It may sound good but... God can't hear Monophysites.  Wink
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« Reply #64 on: May 08, 2004, 08:34:14 PM »

If God can't hear Monophysites, then the God of the Orthodox is not all powerful.  Tongue
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« Reply #65 on: May 08, 2004, 08:46:50 PM »

If God can't hear Monophysites, then the God of the Orthodox is not all powerful.  Tongue

HA!

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« Reply #66 on: May 09, 2004, 04:39:42 PM »

Pedro,

At first, yes.  But when the people see that no one is going to pick up the slack for them, and Father encourages them, they will respond.  I have been to a parish where congregational Byzantine Chanting was restored.

anastasios

My priest (in our OCA parish) is very much in favor of congregational singing.  As I understand it, it's been used with success in the Carpatho-Russian diocese (ACROD).  He said a very good point, that it's really in-line with traditional America, going back to American congregationalist roots.  Also, it's unrealistic for Americans to become "high-church Russians" or so and to "shush" them up if someone from the congregation starts to sing.  In our parish, even though we have a choir, many from the congregation choose to sing as well.  I see nothing wrong with it.
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« Reply #67 on: May 09, 2004, 10:25:53 PM »

It may sound good but... God can't hear Monophysites.  Wink

HA! back atcher. I reckon God heard my parish singing "Old Hundredth" today.
 Grin

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« Reply #68 on: May 18, 2004, 04:15:42 PM »

HA! back atcher. I reckon God heard my parish singing "Old Hundredth" today.
 Grin

Oh!  Ebor, are you...what?  Episcopalian/Anglican?
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« Reply #69 on: May 19, 2004, 02:45:07 PM »

OK, I must be a rarity indeed -- a convert to Orthodoxy who attends a GOA parish!  And I've been there 22 years!  (In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I probably would have chosen an OCA parish had one existed in my town 22 years ago.  Today, I drive past thriving Antiochian and OCA parishes to get to my parish, which also has its share of "white people" or "Americans" or "Gentiles" or whatever Greeks call us converts.  Personally, I prefer "WASO" for "White Anglo-Saxon Orthodox.")

Anyway, yes, we have an organ.  I'd rather we weaned ourselves off it, or at least reduced it to the role of giving the pitch, but I don't feel an urge to take an ax to it.  My objection to the organ isn't theological.  I just think that the best choral singing tends to be acapella.

As for Byzantine chant, I've learned to appreciate it only gradually, after hearing it done -- and done well -- in English; my personal tastes run more toward obikhod and four-part harmony on the Russian model.  I praise God for the vast variety of music in Orthodoxy!

As for congregational singing, I can tell you one way to promote it that will NOT work.  Ten years ago, a former priest, zealous to promote congregational singing by decree, purchased a setting of the Divine Liturgy that NOBODY KNEW.  The choir was sight-reading music it had never seen before, and the congregation didn't open its mouth, so, four or five joyless weeks later, the priest pronounced the experiment a failure.
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« Reply #70 on: May 19, 2004, 03:06:35 PM »

Ive never worshipped in an Orthodox parish that had an organ, so I have no experience with that.  I am generally in favor of congregational singing, it requires some work to do it well, and an acceptance on the part of the parishioners that some of the more elaborate, complex arrangements will drop away.  On balance I think the better part is to have congregational singing, because that is the way the liturgy was designed to be done.

On pews, on the other hand, I am very against them, they should be stripped out and burned.  They only serve to create a very un-Orthodox environment in our churches.  Orthodox services are supposed to permit movement around the church to venerate icons, to place candles and the like.  Pews destroy this atmosphere.  Pews also encourage people to sit during parts of the liturgy when they should be standing, as is our tradition.  They also, as pointed out above, really interfere with prostrations, and that gets really messy during Lenten services.  I am more open minded to chairs, because chairs can at least be removed (eg, for certain services, during Lent, etc.).  And I can understand that parishes that purchase a western church building don't have the money to remove the pews.  But it is really beyond me why Orthodox would build a church from the ground up with pews in it, they really ruin the liturgy and the atmosphere of the liturgy.
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« Reply #71 on: May 19, 2004, 03:48:33 PM »

I have to say, Brendan03, that I agree with you 100%; after having been in both a "converted" building that still had pews and my current OCA parish (pewless), I MUCH prefer that there not be pews.  I definitely see the logic behind it.
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« Reply #72 on: May 19, 2004, 08:12:25 PM »

Oh!  Ebor, are you...what?  Episcopalian/Anglican?

I'm sorry, Pedro. I didn't notice that you had posted this yesterday.

Yes, I admit it. I am an Episcopalian/Anglican. But the admins and mods are nice enough to let me hang out here anyway. Cheesy  And I sing in the choir, so I have strong feelings about music too.

Ebor

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« Reply #73 on: May 20, 2004, 11:02:05 AM »

Well...I GUESS I'm OK with talking to you, then.  Wink
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« Reply #74 on: May 20, 2004, 01:14:51 PM »

Well...I GUESS I'm OK with talking to you, then.  Wink

You're not worried about getting Anglican-Cooties?  Grin

In my parish we have an organ, a choir, a congregation that sings, a priest that sings/chants (though I personally think that he sounds like Mel Torme or someone of that ilk at times.  The man could use some voice training). We do hymns, Anthems, Chant (Anglican, Gregorian, occasionally Russian) Music that's over 1000 years old, music that was written last year by one of the choir people,  and sometimes "Praise songs" (but they're not allowed to take over.)

Have you ever heard the joke about the difference between a hymn and an anthem?

Ebor
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« Reply #75 on: August 04, 2004, 11:37:22 AM »

Sorry I know this is a late post but just thought i would add something!

I have been to many Greek Orthodox Churches in Australia (my home land) and I have never seen an organ in any of them, and truly hope I never do. The church i go to here in Spain is GOA and does not use an organ either. As strong as it may be to say this, I doubt I would continue going to any church that introduced an organ. I would prefer to hear bad chanting than good organ music.

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« Reply #76 on: August 04, 2004, 11:52:45 AM »

BTW - According to the book "From Mars Hill to Manhattan", the first organ in the Greek Church was introduced by Athenagoras, who at that time was the Metropolitan of Corfu, in the 1920's.

Then when he became Archbishop of North and South America he pushed to have it introduced in the American Churches to make Orthodoxy "more palatable" to western ears.

Interesting.
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« Reply #77 on: August 04, 2004, 12:01:37 PM »

when he became Archbishop of North and South America he pushed to have it introduced in the American Churches to make Orthodoxy "more palatable" to western ears.

Interesting.

interesting but i find the most common reaction to the old traditional chanting is that it is beautiful because it IS different to the western style. it is often the music of our churches that bring westerners to us in the beginning. Smiley
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« Reply #78 on: August 04, 2004, 12:20:20 PM »

interesting but i find the most common reaction to the old traditional chanting is that it is beautiful because it IS different to the western style. it is often the music of our churches that bring westerners to us in the beginning. Smiley

True... but that is today.

You have to remember that back in the 1920's and 1930's cultural differences were NOT accepted and cellebrated like they are today.  Back then, to be different was a bad thing.

Athenagoras wanted Greeks assimilated into America. He became an American citizen as soon as he could and wanted to bring the west to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #79 on: August 04, 2004, 12:30:08 PM »

Cool. That I can respect. It is very difficult in trying to maintain an old-style religion in a very modernised world. I suppose some thigns have to give. I suppose we all have to choice to accept some of these changes or not. I just hope we don't see more schisms as time goes on.

Thanks for the info Tom.
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« Reply #80 on: August 04, 2004, 12:55:14 PM »

All that being said -- I HATE organs in the church.
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« Reply #81 on: August 04, 2004, 01:01:08 PM »

I just can't imagine what you would do with an organ in a Greek church!
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« Reply #82 on: August 04, 2004, 01:02:49 PM »

Yeah, they suck a** and should be gotten rid of.

Oh, what was this topic about?  I guess I'll read the most recent posts. Grin
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« Reply #83 on: August 04, 2004, 01:11:16 PM »

I just can't imagine what you would do with an organ in a Greek church!


Well, those Greek churches that DO use organs are not utilizing Byzantine chant -- they are utilizing the western 4 part harmony.
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« Reply #84 on: August 04, 2004, 03:23:36 PM »

I just can't imagine what you would do with an organ in a Greek church!


I can...you could unplug the blasted thing  Cool

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« Reply #85 on: August 05, 2004, 08:49:43 AM »

The organs in most Greek Orthodox churches simply play 4 part Western harmony along with the Church.  The GOA parish here in my town doesn't us any traditional Byzantine music that I know of.  Most of what they sing sounds like the Russian music in the OCA, except that the organ plays along with it while the choir sings in Greek.  I've heard the Greeks play Bortniansky on the organ more than once.  LOL
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« Reply #86 on: August 16, 2004, 05:20:59 PM »

I have an easier solution. Americans join the choir then agitate that ALL chanting and and singing be in ENGLISH!

THAT would solve the problem of having to go to Greece to find a chanter.


Here's an even better solution. Insist on congregational singing in English! "Let everything hath breath prais the Lord!"
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« Reply #87 on: August 16, 2004, 05:43:29 PM »

Yep. That would be the best solution.
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« Reply #88 on: October 06, 2004, 10:48:13 PM »

In a few conversations with some older GOA priests I have been given some additional info on the whole pew and organ thing....
When they first came to this country (with no priests, might i add), the greeks, when looking to start churches), were often only able to afford purchasing existing churches (versus building new ones, as greeks are wont to do now, almost excessively).  Inevitably, these churches had *gasp* pews and organs, which were foreign to these folk... Thus, they became part of the worship life for these people, and when they were able to build their own churches, they liked these American things so much they kept them.

I'm sure the immigrants from Russia and E. Europe went through similar experiences to some degree, thus partially explaining their presence in some OCA and other parishes.

That being said, the organ has no place in a church - the only musical instrument should be the human voice.  While I grew up GOA and love byzantine music, i can appreciate the 4-part harmony - as long as everyone is singing the same thing at the same time.  Once you start having different sections on different words, it confuses the people and turns worship into a performance (which i hate from everyone - the byzantine cantors, western musicians, etc).
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« Reply #89 on: October 06, 2004, 10:55:10 PM »

They need to have cantors and English singing in the congregation together.

Anastasios
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