Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I can’t imagine playing guitar in Orthodox church.
haha its so true. I play guitar. I teach the young adult Sunday School program. We've been trying to organize youth activities, and I have had the idea to use my acoustic guitar to play our Mezmur
(not at Liturgy, not in the Church
, but at these extracurricular activities in the same way we might have a DJ playing music for entertainment) which I already do at home for myself. Ethiopian hymnal is in the pentatonic like most African music, it is essentially the blues, and I come from blues bands, so it was a natural and even spontaneous fit when I stumbled into playing Ethiopian music almost by accident.
However, when I asked around all my friends from the Choir if they would help me on the side practice some Mezmur to get it down better, there was not only ZERO positive responses, but indeed mostly negative and reactionary responses. The guitar then was clearly a touchy issue, even when mechanically, I would suppose the acoustic guitar actually fits in better theologically
with Ethiopian instruments such as the Krar
then does the electric keyboard, as the Krar is a stringed
instrument (symbolically the strings represent the long hair of Our Lady, the neck represents her sturdy spine which stood upright for prayer in Faith) and I highly doubt Pythagoras (who was himself terrified by horns which he thought were entirely of the Devil let alone electronic instruments) would approve of the keys in this sense.
Alas, I had to concede utter defeat before folks started to gossip and misunderstand completely my intentions. I never wanted to bring the guitar into the Divine Liturgy, or even into the Church building at all, rather to play it with my students at other functions, but no body was feeling it!
The guitar and the Orthodox seem to be a non-starter, which may offend my musical sentiments, but which I can absolutely understand.
In regards to folks misunderstanding using books or even PowerPoint, perhaps y'all are from spoiled traditions where the Liturgy is sung in a vernacular language, but in our Ethiopian tradition, even the priests sometimes don't fully comprehend what is being chanted so much as can simply read the letters and sing the words. Ge'ez hasn't been a spoken language for over 600 years, and while there are many cognates with Ge'ez and Amharic and other Ethiopian languages (similar to Latin to Spanish for example) there are also glaring gaps. If we don't know the depths of the meaning of the texts, how are we guided therapeutically by their meanings which the Fathers compiled? The words of the Liturgy are like therapy, the guide our meditation and prayers to understand the depth of what should be experiencing. Yes, we can still feel the Holy Spirit even if we do not comprehend a single word (I can vouch for this from direct, personal experience) however when ones do know the words, the meaning conveyed is even deeper and magnified (I can also vouch for this since)
Further, with just a few years of effort, ones can learn the entire Liturgy by heart as if they were a priest with just a minimal effort of reading along with a book or PowerPoint accompanying, which is how at my parish we ALL seem to know every word, and we all sing our responses. The Choir point made is highly relevant, in the Ethiopian Tradition we do not have a specific choir to sing the People's portions and response of the Liturgy, rather we ALL as a parish sing these words TOGETHER. It is then important obviously that in time folks learn and understand these words, since we are singing them for the duration of our lives, and indeed, we in our tradition believe we will sing these same words in the Kingdom Age.
Also, correct me if I am wrong people, but don't the PRIESTS read along using the books? Why should we scorn their example as if using books was then tacky or worse? Do we judge them for having not memorized the entire Liturgy?