Ok, I'll try to help as Im WR.
1) Is it normal not to chant everything? That threw me off and seemed to produce a sort of...choppy effect. Is it an option and this parish just so happened not to do so?
I know at Vespers we dont chant everything (thanksgiving prayer is spoken). Also in the liturgy there is parts that are spoken. Totally normal. I would also add, there probably is some variance depending on the liturgy used.
2) When it was silent was the priest praying something that we just couldn't hear? I've heard of that (at my regular parish nothing is done silently) but it seemed we were just waiting for a hymn to be finished Just curious about that 'down time'.
During liturgy, there are prayers that my priest says silently. My priest whispers them, now whether this is because he chooses to, or to make sure we know that something
is happening is well, I dunno.
Overall, as I said to my fiancee as we left, it felt Orthodox
I would hope so, because it is
. Also, coming from a Lutheran (and a considerably high-church Lutheranism at that) the WR was very comfortable for me, and it also helped me focus on God during service, instead of what was being done. It was pretty familiar for me, which really helped in my conversion.
I love the WR, and although I have never been to an ER service, and look forward to doing so, I feel at home in the WR.