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Author Topic: Listening to chants while praying??  (Read 2658 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 24, 2011, 11:00:04 PM »

i was just curious if anyone ever does this... i have the ancient faith radio app, and i was wondering if its normal to listen to chants while praying/meditating.

anyone??
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2011, 11:02:19 PM »

Definitely not a good idea. In that context it distracts your mind from prayer. It's not meant for that.
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2011, 11:05:14 PM »

Definitely not a good idea. In that context it distracts your mind from prayer. It's not meant for that.

Not to argue with a priest, but I could see a few contexts where it could help, such as in an already noisy environment, where it helps to mitigate outside distractions. I'm thinking college dorms where the next door neighbor is blaring loud music or if there's construction going on in your neighborhood or some such.
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2011, 11:06:29 PM »

Definitely not a good idea. In that context it distracts your mind from prayer. It's not meant for that.

Bless, Father! And i understand. The reason I was concerned was because I struggle with being distracted in prayer anyways. My mind is usually all over the place. My intentions were to listen to chants in hopes that I could be focused the words of the chants rather than other places my mind way wander.

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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2011, 11:07:37 PM »

"way" should be "may"

Sorry, I'm typing on my iPhone. Ha.
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2011, 10:25:15 PM »

Oh, I hadn't thought of the possibility of it actually reducing competing noises.

But, regarding your mind going to the words of the chants, that's exactly what you don't want to have happen, unless the words of the chants are exactly the same as the words you have intended to pray. Because you don't want your lips to be saying one set of words, while your mind goes to another set of words. For if thine eye (spiritual focus) be single, thy whole body shall be full of light, says the Lord.
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2011, 10:32:56 PM »

Sometimes I listen to the Trisagion Hymn.  It helps take away a lot of thoughts after being at work for the day.
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2011, 10:54:18 PM »

well how about this....

does anyone ever listen to chant and meditate in order to prepare for prayer??

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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2011, 11:21:02 PM »

well how about this....

does anyone ever listen to chant and meditate in order to prepare for prayer??



I don't intentionally use classical music or chant to prepare for prayer, but it does do that for me.  After a long day at work I find great comfort, both spiritual and emotional, in sitting down and listening to chant and/or classical music.  It helps restore that spiritual sensitivity that I tend to gradually lose during the workday .  It does help in quieting my mind and therefore probably makes me more focused in my prayer.  I guess ideally we should be able to refocus ourselves without any aid, but for me it is downright impossible.  My spiritual life in general is far from ideal though, so take what I say with a grain of salt. 
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« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2011, 11:29:09 PM »

well how about this....

does anyone ever listen to chant and meditate in order to prepare for prayer??



I don't intentionally use classical music or chant to prepare for prayer, but it does do that for me.  After a long day at work I find great comfort, both spiritual and emotional, in sitting down and listening to chant and/or classical music.  It helps restore that spiritual sensitivity that I tend to gradually lose during the workday .  It does help in quieting my mind and therefore probably makes me more focused in my prayer.  I guess ideally we should be able to refocus ourselves without any aid, but for me it is downright impossible.  My spiritual life in general is far from ideal though, so take what I say with a grain of salt. 

it does seem like it brings a certain peace to me as well.  it seems that i can listen, and be brought into a certain mind set that helps me focus on prayer.  i was told by a priest to say the Jesus Prayer for 10 min before the rest of my prayers.  he said this is done to "prepare myself."  Im still in a state where im even distracted while praying the jesus prayer over and over.  seemed like maybe the chant music would help if i listened to it before i started my prayers!
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« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2011, 11:37:28 PM »

I'm not going to lie to you, some Orthodox Christians will probably find it alarming that someone would use music to prepare for prayer.  I've heard from some people that music, used in that way, is merely a manipulation of emotions that creates a sense of closeness to God.  A sort of self-induced spiritual state.  I guess I can see that, but like you, focusing is extremely difficult.  God willing someday I'll be able to focus without external means.  And yeah, I find the Jesus Prayer the hardest thing on earth.  After five Jesus Prayers my mind is distracted by things I need to get at Wal-Mart on the way home from work. I think St. Ignatius Brianchaninov said it was a sort of martyrdom if done faithfully. 
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« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2011, 11:41:18 PM »

seems we are similar.  guess i just need to pray for my prayer life!!

growing up protestant, i am well aware of how music can at times be manipulative.  i dont want to fall in to the same trap with Orthodoxy and chants. 
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« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2011, 12:33:03 AM »

I dunno. At the local parish if there are other people in the area when a confession is being done they put on chants so no one can hear the confession. If it's good enough to not interfere with sacramental confession... well you know best how it impact you during prayer. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2011, 08:09:29 AM »

i was just curious if anyone ever does this... i have the ancient faith radio app, and i was wondering if its normal to listen to chants while praying/meditating.

anyone??

The only time I do this is if I am praying along with what is being chanted, that is if I am listening to something I am familiar with and decide to chant along with the melody and use it as an opportunity offer the words to God.

I don't do this as background noise while I pray something else or as a guide to any particular prayer rule.
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« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2011, 09:09:10 AM »

I use classical music or chant to calm me down, to help relax my mind and to cut out the noise from outside.

Like many others, I am easily distracted when praying and I find the music helps to focus my mind on Divine and spiritual side, so my mind does not wonder off too much.

I like the Jesus prayer, nice, simple yet very powerful.

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« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2011, 10:23:00 AM »

I tend to use ecclesiastical music recordings to help either drown out ambient noise during prayer or settle my mind down before prayer.  To be honest, most of my recordings are not in English, so there isn't much of a problem being distracted by the words.

The most obvious danger is using recordings to 'enhance' an imaginary experience.  Orthodoxy stands against use of the imagination in prayer, which is why were are told to avoid visions and the like during prayer.  A cousin to this is romanticizing or reminiscing, which are emotion-laden memories that are often one-sided or innacurate.  Music is powerful enough to stir these types of imaginary impressions and derail prayer, which must, above all, be based in the reality of the moment.
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« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2011, 10:56:00 AM »

If it truly helps you pray, then I think it's fine.

For myself, I can't stand having radios/TVs on for "background noise." Drives me crazy. Unless I'm actively listening to it, I shut it off. People hate riding in the car with me because I never turn on the radio. angel

Same thing with listening to music during prayer. I've tried it before, but it's horribly distracting, more so than general noise. If background noise rise to the level of distraction, I find it more fruitful to chant/intone my prayers, because it forces you to pay a little more attention. But for me, pure silence is always best.
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« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2011, 01:15:14 PM »

Thanks for the help everyone! Im still working on a playlist of different chants, but i think ill avoid using it during prayer and try to find other ways to focus.  maybe prayer itself can help me focus on prayer.... if that makes any sense! ha!
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« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2011, 05:33:47 PM »

I don't like the idea of listening to chant as entertainment or as an aid to prayer. The chants are prayers, and prayers should be produced by the people there if they are praying. We don't use recorded chants in a church service, so I don't think we should use them in our own prayer. They are certainly not entertainment, either. So this pretty much leaves didactic purposes as the only reason to listen to recorded chant. To drown other stuff out while you pray, why not white noise?
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« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2011, 06:03:43 PM »

From my own lay perspective:

When I first started to pray in the true sense of the word, I used to do this: put chants on or other similar music. As a beginner it helped me concentrate, calm down, etc.

I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with it - especially for someone who isn't used to prayer. Let's not kid ourselves here - none of us live in a monastery. Something tells me that God doesn't mind if you have religious music on at a low volume in the background; in fact it may help your prayer particularly if you can't understand the language.

That being said, I think as you grow in prayer you will probably grow out of the "need" for this. Especially if you start to pray the Hours which have music already. Remember what St. Paul says, "all is permitted, but not all is beneficial"...
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« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2011, 07:12:02 PM »

That's it - buy some ear plugs to block out the noise as you pray. Problem (of background noises) solved.
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« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2011, 07:28:55 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

i was just curious if anyone ever does this... i have the ancient faith radio app, and i was wondering if its normal to listen to chants while praying/meditating.

anyone??

Yes, I chant along my Agpeya prayers in the melodies and chants of the Se'at (Ethiopian Hours) prayers I have on .mp3 format and also several other Tewahedo chants, hymns, and prayers I have.  I highly recommend it, unless you are straight Indian about it, meditating in an urban environment can be quite distracting, these allow you to fall back into the quiet of your heart like when attending Church. 

Here is what Father Meletios has to say about it:

Quote
"As a general rule, we can say that there is silence at the heart of our experience of God (hesychia).  Strangely, in Divine Liturgy, there is a complete lack of physical silence. Often the chanter or the choir feels compelled to fill silence with noise of some sort.  This has been the case for a long time, as we can from the common Byzantine practice of adding nonsense syllables (te-re-re or ne-ne-ne) to hymns which need to cover a particular ceremonial action by the clergy and their assistants.  There is silence in the Divine Liturgy, however.  That silence is to be found in the hearts of worshipers.  Physical silence sometimes encourages us to go off into dreamland or fantasy, and that is the last thing we need to in the Divine Liturgy.  We cannot, after all, meet God in imagination or fantasy, and the hymns encourage us to stay focused on our awareness of being the the Presence.  Silence is the language of God, and it is in silence, the deep silence of the heart, that we both listen and speak."
Bread and Water, Oil and Wine

I do believe the father's point is this, that silence is not necessarily part of prayer in the Church life because the sounds of hymn and chanting actually encourage a deeper spiritual awareness in the heart, which can be silent even in the noise of a tornado passing by.  We do not need to be physically immersed in silence to experience the true inner silence of prayer and communion with God.  At least for me personally, I enjoy praying and meditating to recorded prayers, chants, and hymns, and I have also learned by this process how to sing myself.  So when I pray my Agpeya or even spontaneous kinds of prayer and Jesus Prayer  and such, I tend now to sing and chant them in the melodies I have learned from the recordings and liturgies I have attended and use.

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie
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« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2011, 08:31:23 PM »

Liturgical prayer is one thing, and private prayer is another thing. They are accomplished in two very different ways.

There is nothing wrong with praying to a tape, including chanted prayers. Practically the only way I can get the prayers before communion in, is by popping in the CD while driving around to pick up poor people to bring to Liturgy.

But you really do not want to have one set of words to be praying, while listening to anything that's different than those exact same words. In other words, saying an akathist while listening to a selection of Russian Orthodox choral chants on a CD, is straight out. No mood music to say one's prayer rule or specific prayers. It's one of those good things of God which is not meant for that particular purpose.

There's only one way to deal with the mind wandering, and that (besides seeking quietness as best you can) is forcing it back to the prayer when it wanders, then repeating a million times ad nauseam with long-suffering patience. And in patience you shall possess your soul, says the Lord.
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« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2011, 12:18:04 AM »


Quote
There's only one way to deal with the mind wandering, and that (besides seeking quietness as best you can) is forcing it back to the prayer when it wanders, then repeating a million times ad nauseam with long-suffering patience. And in patience you shall possess your soul, says the Lord.

Unfortunately, patience is one of my biggest weaknesses in life.  When I decide I want to do something, I do it immediately.  I dont even like to order things off the internet because it takes too long. Id rather drive an hour to get whatever I need/want that day.  And I certainly realize this isnt always healthy.  Just the way im wired...

I think this is the reason Im looking for immediate help, hoping music would be the solution.  I do struggle in prayer.  I have been a Christian my whole life, but I was protestant.  My prayer life barely existed.  At best it was a few words I mumbled into my pillow at 2 in the morning.  Now that I have found Orthodoxy, I have asked a priest about a prayer rule, and made an icon corner (also with priestly guidance).  It has helped TREMENDOUSLY, but I still struggle with my mind wandering.  I just need to be patient and keep working at it!
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« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2011, 12:22:23 AM »

I don't like the idea of listening to chant as entertainment or as an aid to prayer. The chants are prayers, and prayers should be produced by the people there if they are praying. We don't use recorded chants in a church service, so I don't think we should use them in our own prayer. They are certainly not entertainment, either. So this pretty much leaves didactic purposes as the only reason to listen to recorded chant. To drown other stuff out while you pray, why not white noise?

Are you saying it would be inappropriate to listen to chants while in my car?  It seems to be relaxing after a long day.  I realize that "being relaxing" isnt its purpose, but I wonder why they would make CDs/recordings available if they werent meant to be enjoyed?  Is praying along with them the only purpose that these CDs are made?

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« Reply #25 on: September 27, 2011, 08:32:02 AM »

I just need to be patient and keep working at it!

Me too.
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« Reply #26 on: September 27, 2011, 10:18:36 AM »

I don't like the idea of listening to chant as entertainment or as an aid to prayer. The chants are prayers, and prayers should be produced by the people there if they are praying. We don't use recorded chants in a church service, so I don't think we should use them in our own prayer. They are certainly not entertainment, either. So this pretty much leaves didactic purposes as the only reason to listen to recorded chant. To drown other stuff out while you pray, why not white noise?

Are you saying it would be inappropriate to listen to chants while in my car?  It seems to be relaxing after a long day.  I realize that "being relaxing" isnt its purpose, but I wonder why they would make CDs/recordings available if they werent meant to be enjoyed?  Is praying along with them the only purpose that these CDs are made?
This is, after all, only my own personal opinion. I'm fairly okay with it if you're actively engaged with it, but having it on as a background noise, or entertainment, or using it as a part of prayer seems wrong. But, again, this is my own personal opinion, I'm not judging anyone, I'm just throwing it out there. YMMV.
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« Reply #27 on: September 27, 2011, 12:47:29 PM »

Are having icons on your wall "inappropriate" if you are not venerating 24/7?  Huh I just don't seem to understand where everyone is coming from on being so strict with the music...I just don't get it.
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« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2011, 01:08:44 PM »

No, me neither.

I often listen to religious music, both orthodox and catholic. it is beautiful music that you can relax into, or in the background when I study.
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« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2011, 10:42:11 PM »

No, me neither.

I often listen to religious music, both orthodox and catholic. it is beautiful music that you can relax into, or in the background when I study.

I am waiting for someone to claim you should be excommunicated for listening to Catholic music.  Cheesy

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« Reply #30 on: September 28, 2011, 12:00:09 AM »

Are having icons on your wall "inappropriate" if you are not venerating 24/7?  Huh I just don't seem to understand where everyone is coming from on being so strict with the music...I just don't get it.

i agree. i do enjoy listening to chant in my car. its quite a contrast to the usually heavy stuff thats usually melting my ear drums.

i teach music lessons during the week and after ive been teaching 7 year olds all day, my brain is ready to explode.  the chant calms me down and prepares me for my evening prayers.  dont see what could be wrong with that...
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« Reply #31 on: September 28, 2011, 12:00:31 AM »

Are having icons on your wall "inappropriate" if you are not venerating 24/7?  Huh I just don't seem to understand where everyone is coming from on being so strict with the music...I just don't get it.

i agree. i do enjoy listening to chant in my car. its quite a contrast to the usually heavy stuff thats usually melting my ear drums!  Grin

i teach music lessons during the week and after ive been teaching 7 year olds all day, my brain is ready to explode.  the chant calms me down and prepares me for my evening prayers.  dont see what could be wrong with that...
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« Reply #32 on: September 28, 2011, 06:58:54 AM »

  dont see what could be wrong with that...
Neither do I. Especially if they're being sung in a language with which you are familiar, the repetition will put them into your heart and head, making them part of your own prayer life.
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« Reply #33 on: September 28, 2011, 11:46:28 AM »

  dont see what could be wrong with that...
Neither do I. Especially if they're being sung in a language with which you are familiar, the repetition will put them into your heart and head, making them part of your own prayer life.

very true. im still in the process of memorizing certain prayers, so the chants certainly help.
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Fr.Aidan
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« Reply #34 on: October 03, 2011, 11:31:10 AM »

I can't see anything wrong with listening to chant CDS in your car, or using religious music to prepare yourself for when you will begin to say your prayers.

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« Reply #35 on: October 03, 2011, 11:53:27 AM »

I can't see anything wrong with listening to chant CDS in your car, or using religious music to prepare yourself for when you will begin to say your prayers.



There is an interesting precedent for this from a potential Saint. IIRC, Fr. Seraphim of Platina used to listen Classical music before attending services while he was still a layman in the World.
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« Reply #36 on: October 07, 2011, 04:35:38 PM »

Perhaps listening to Orthodox music before praying/worshiping is like entering the narthex before the sanctuary...
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« Reply #37 on: October 07, 2011, 10:08:38 PM »

Perhaps listening to Orthodox music before praying/worshiping is like entering the narthex before the sanctuary...

Thats a good analogy... At least to me. 
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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

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« Reply #38 on: October 07, 2011, 10:21:18 PM »

growing up protestant, i am well aware of how music can at times be manipulative.  i dont want to fall in to the same trap with Orthodoxy and chants. 

Interesting you say this. When I was just starting to learn as a chanter, I felt as though I had to make sure I understood/really believed the words of the chants before I was able to say them, because of an instinctive fear that I might get manipulated by the music. I'm also selective about what chants I listen to, because I suspect that it has an unconscious influence on me.

As for praying, I don't listen to anything while I pray, as this feels wrong to me for reasons I'm not sure of. I do often chant my prayers.
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« Reply #39 on: October 07, 2011, 11:50:33 PM »

Perhaps listening to Orthodox music before praying/worshiping is like entering the narthex before the sanctuary...

Thats a good analogy... At least to me.  Agreed.  I like that analogy.
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« Reply #40 on: October 08, 2011, 12:23:26 AM »

growing up protestant, i am well aware of how music can at times be manipulative.  i dont want to fall in to the same trap with Orthodoxy and chants. 

Interesting you say this. When I was just starting to learn as a chanter, I felt as though I had to make sure I understood/really believed the words of the chants before I was able to say them, because of an instinctive fear that I might get manipulated by the music. I'm also selective about what chants I listen to, because I suspect that it has an unconscious influence on me.

As for praying, I don't listen to anything while I pray, as this feels wrong to me for reasons I'm not sure of. I do often chant my prayers.

Sometimes its hard to imagine getting emotionally manipulated by chants, but I guess it can happen. 

In my world, we will have these big, powerful worship songs thats start out soft and pretty and then build into this big emotional chorus.  Most of the churches have fantastic sound systems and pay REALLY good musicians to be in the band, so the music really sounds great.  Now, Im not going to say that God cant use this music and truly work in someones life through it. However, I have often wondered if people would get as "into" it if it were traditional hymns or chant.  I dont really think people would pay hundreds of dollars to attend these massive conferences if their favorite worship band wasnt there and there was rather someone chanting. ha!

I guess my point is that the big, cool worship songs that mirror the style of music you listen to anyways will have more of an emotional effect on you...

Couldnt God use this emotion for something good though???

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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

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« Reply #41 on: October 08, 2011, 12:57:07 AM »

Timon, have you heard any Orthodox liturgical music sung by a half-decent Slavic choir? It'll blow your socks off for all the right reasons. No heavy sound system required.  Wink
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« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2011, 01:22:09 AM »

Timon, have you heard any Orthodox liturgical music sung by a half-decent Slavic choir? It'll blow your socks off for all the right reasons. No heavy sound system required.  Wink

Oh, I know it!!  And in case my last post wasnt clear, I am in favor of the chant.  I was just raising a couple points and a question about the world I am more familiar with.  Most of the songs I refer to are very shallow, but musically they are able to mess with your emotions.  I dont always think thats healthy, but at the same time I think God is capable of using those emotions for something good.
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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

— Chrysostom

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« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2011, 07:12:09 AM »


In my world, we will have these big, powerful worship songs thats start out soft and pretty and then build into this big emotional chorus.  Most of the churches have fantastic sound systems and pay REALLY good musicians to be in the band, so the music really sounds great.  Now, Im not going to say that God cant use this music and truly work in someones life through it. However, I have often wondered if people would get as "into" it if it were traditional hymns or chant.  I dont really think people would pay hundreds of dollars to attend these massive conferences if their favorite worship band wasnt there and there was rather someone chanting. ha!
What you've described here is a concert by professional musicians. Nothing wrong with a good concert - call it a sacred concert if you like - just bill it that way and all would be fine with me.

Quote
I guess my point is that the big, cool worship songs that mirror the style of music you listen to anyways will have more of an emotional effect on you...

Couldnt God use this emotion for something good though???


Yes. Emotions definitely have their place. I remember very clearly noticing the distinction a few months ago. My wife (non-Orthodox) and I were listening to a Christian (i.e. Evangelical) concert on TV. At the end of the performance that we both enjoyed very much, she said, "I feel as though I've been to church!"; in the interests of avoiding an argument, I kept quiet, but thought to myself, "I feel as though I want to go to church"; I wanted to take the feelings, my emotions, I had about Christ and my relationship with Him and present them to Him in worship.

My point is that emotions can indeed be one factor in driving us to worship. The problems come when an emotional experience = worship.
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« Reply #44 on: October 08, 2011, 12:17:26 PM »

Quote
My point is that emotions can indeed be one factor in driving us to worship. The problems come when an emotional experience = worship.

Exactly. 
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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

— Chrysostom

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