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Author Topic: American Orthodox Church parish to be opened in California  (Read 3346 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 03, 2012, 07:33:21 PM »

Wow!


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3/3/2012

The Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria
Diocese of Los Angeles

Diocese Announces the Opening of St. Paul American Coptic Orthodox Church, a Missionary Parish in Orange County

With great joy, the Diocese announces the opening of a new parish in Orange County: St. Paul American Coptic Orthodox Church. As the name suggests, this parish is missionary in nature, aiming to reflect the light of Orthodox Christianity to people from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds while serving primarily non-Egyptian members of the Diocese.

The parish will operate under the close supervision and guidance of our beloved father, His Grace Bishop Serapion, and will be served by a rotation of four English-speaking priests in the area.


Read more here:

http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/2012/03/new-mission-announced-for-coptic-orthodox-church-in-orange-county/
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2012, 07:36:47 PM »

The parish's website is here:

http://stpauloc.org/
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2012, 07:40:59 PM »

The first liturgy will be tomorrow, and information about it is here:

http://stpauloc.org/?p=1
 
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2012, 09:32:00 PM »

Wow. That is bold.

I wish them success.   Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2012, 01:22:58 AM »

Interesting.  I wonder though, since Coptic is so closely tied to Egyptian culture, how will that translate to an American audience?  In other words, how will Tradition be separated from tradition?
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2012, 02:21:37 AM »

Glory be to God!
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2012, 03:26:08 AM »

Interesting.  I wonder though, since Coptic is so closely tied to Egyptian culture, how will that translate to an American audience?  In other words, how will Tradition be separated from tradition?

From what I've seen of the one hymn from this church posted in the "Oriental Orthodox" section of the forum, they still use the same melodies as any Coptic church would. I think the main difference is the language, though honestly in our little Coptic community here in NM the liturgy is already about 75-80% English despite not being a specifically "missionary" church, so I'm not sure what is going on with this particular church. Maybe there is a perceived need for a strictly English-only liturgy in the area.

What traditions need to be jettisoned to appeal to Americans? The segregation of the sexes in the congregation? Eating beans in the agape meal? Outside of the language and some of the extra-liturgical cultural norms, I don't think the Coptic church is nearly as hard to fit into as it might seem. I was surprised that they kept the melody of the hymn, though. I've been told by others that the traditional melodies don't sound good to non-Copts. That's not true for me, but I guess I don't know every non-Copt in the world.
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« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2012, 04:59:55 PM »

Eating beans in the agape meal?
This would be a problem in California?

I, for one, endorse more frijoles in the Agape Meal.

I've been told by others that the traditional melodies don't sound good to non-Copts.
The "buzzing" of the Coptic hymns can be off-putting to western ears. Same with some of the Byzantine tones that sound like they contain "mistakes" to western ears.
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« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2012, 05:47:49 PM »

Eating beans in the agape meal?
This would be a problem in California?

I, for one, endorse more frijoles in the Agape Meal.

Um...that's my point. I don't think there is nearly as much to be adapted to Western/non-Coptic tastes (outside of the language) as some people think there is. But maybe I'm wrong.

I've been told by others that the traditional melodies don't sound good to non-Copts.
The "buzzing" of the Coptic hymns can be off-putting to western ears. Same with some of the Byzantine tones that sound like they contain "mistakes" to western ears.

Buzzing?  Huh
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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2012, 06:15:14 PM »

Buzzing?  Huh
You know what I mean.
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2012, 06:45:42 PM »

No, i really don't know what you mean. Melisma? Because that's not just a property of the Coptic hymns. I don't know if it would be right to isolate the Coptic chant on that basis when it's also present in the Antiochians (EO and OO, and even Catholics like the Maronites), Greeks, etc. Seems more of a general "Eastern" thing, but only since the West has evolved away from that. It is present in older Western/Roman chant forms like the Mozarabic, the Ambrosian, and others.

For me it is more the rhythm of the Coptic chants that can be difficult. My "Amins" tend to peter out a bit at the end sometimes because I don't anticipate the subtle modulations unless I have memorized the melody (which is tough to do in all cases, since there are seemingly a lot of variations).
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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2012, 06:51:48 PM »

I have a copy of a chant CD of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, by the Mount Lebanon Choir. They take a minute and a half just to sing the last syllable of "cherubim." Now that's melismatic.   Grin 
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2012, 06:59:02 PM »

I think there was a 5 minute long portion in the tasbeha I went to that was purely vocal sound, without words.
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2012, 07:16:00 PM »

Yes, the Coptic church is famous for those kinds of incredibly melismatic hymns. I suspect only someone steeped in Coptic hymnody and musicology could tell you why some have those long one-note passages; I don't know, myself, but I accept it as part of the chant form, and find that it really helps me to get the rhythm of the hymn, particularly if the cymbal isn't used.
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2012, 08:49:16 PM »

It is fashionable and trendy to have missionary parishes nowadays in the Coptic Church.

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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2012, 10:32:13 PM »

It is fashionable and trendy to have missionary parishes nowadays in the Coptic Church.

Lord have mercy!

Is your post suggesting that missionary parishes are an unfortunate development?  If so, why?
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« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2012, 01:02:49 AM »

It is fashionable and trendy to have missionary parishes nowadays in the Coptic Church.
Glory to God!
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« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2012, 05:27:49 AM »

Hi dzheremi, I don't think that there is an absolute issue with melisma, but in the example Mozarabic chant you linked to (great music), there is not a complete loss of connection with the content of the words which seems to me to occur if it takes many minutes to sing one syllable.

Indeed I think that I probably agree with the ancient Western view that the words should have priority and that the chant should support the words. This is surely why polyphony was seen by conservatives as a degenerative development.

If I remember Bar Salibi correctly he criticised the development of chant which led away from simplicity, even though it might be more musically exciting. He was writing in the Middle Ages from a Syrian perspective.

I love Syriac chant... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK0y9KWXP1w ... it seems to me to give primacy to the text of the hymn. It is not without melisma, but never at the expense of the words.
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« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2012, 07:43:17 AM »

yay, another link to syriac music!
has anyone got the translation?

as for the original topic, i think we should pray for all attempts to spread the good news of Jesus Christ with the world around us. may there be much fruit from this endeavour and may there be much unity among those who rightly 'define the word of truth' (quote from liturgy) and work hard to bring light to the world.
may God bless them and preserve the great orthodox theology that they preach.
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« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2012, 01:41:47 PM »

Hi dzheremi, I don't think that there is an absolute issue with melisma, but in the example Mozarabic chant you linked to (great music), there is not a complete loss of connection with the content of the words which seems to me to occur if it takes many minutes to sing one syllable.

Indeed I think that I probably agree with the ancient Western view that the words should have priority and that the chant should support the words. This is surely why polyphony was seen by conservatives as a degenerative development.

If I remember Bar Salibi correctly he criticised the development of chant which led away from simplicity, even though it might be more musically exciting. He was writing in the Middle Ages from a Syrian perspective.

I love Syriac chant... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK0y9KWXP1w ... it seems to me to give primacy to the text of the hymn. It is not without melisma, but never at the expense of the words.

Hello Father,

Thank you for the very interesting video. Nouri Iskander is a wonderful arranger and composer, responsible for some of the best sacred and secular Syriac music of the modern era.

Anyway, I agree that there is definitely a potential for people to get lost in these very long melismas and stop paying attention to the text, though I don't think it's necessarily a foregone conclusion that this will happen based purely on the length of the melismas. Like everything else in church, you have to be attentive. All other things being equal, is there a huge difference between the 41 Kyrie Eleisons (which are not very melismatic) and a very melismatic tune like "Ke Eperto" (22 words, about 7.5 minutes)? Both take quite some time to complete and are not very content-heavy, so a person's mind could wander quite easily. In fact, I would think that you could make the argument that since there is more going on (melody-wise) in "Ke Eperto" than in "Kyrie Eleison", it might hold the attention a bit better. Or not. I don't know. I'm not sure how you could gauge this kind of thing, since I doubt many people would openly admit to becoming distracted during very melismatic tunes, particularly if they grew up in the church and are used to them. For me, as an outsider, I look at these melodies as a vehicle to convey the texts, and not things to be enjoyed in the abstract, as we are not worshiping God in the abstract. And it is the worship of God, whether through melismatic tunes or not, that is paramount. And there are plenty of Coptic hymns that aren't terribly different than the Syriac, in terms of their melismatic content-to-length of text ratio: "Hos Erof", "Thok te ti gom", "Osanna khen neitchosi", etc.
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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2012, 03:41:24 PM »

seeing as u mentioned thok ta te gom (yours is the power) and it's my favourite hymn and the first i ever learnt in coptic / arabic / english (it is translated) i thought i would post a link to it:
http://tasbeha.org/hymn_library/view/18
i also didn't realise that the 'aaa ooo iiii' is called melisma. thanks for the education.

the audio version is here, in case anyone wants to check if it has melisma. i think it has charisma instead!
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« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2012, 03:54:55 PM »

Hahaha. A mutual friend of ours has remarked that "Thok te ti gom" is the favorite church hymn of all white people. Cheesy I prefer the Hitenis and things like Ni Men Ebshois, but I'm a weirdo.

Since you love that hymn so much, I'll (re-)post this because I think it's amazing: Thok te ti gom from the church in Johannesburg, S. Africa, i.e., proof that it most definitely is not just for white people! Wink
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« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2012, 04:04:41 PM »

I have a copy of a chant CD of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, by the Mount Lebanon Choir. They take a minute and a half just to sing the last syllable of "cherubim." Now that's melismatic.   Grin 

That's what happens when the timing is not quite right. What I mean is that one does not want to have dead spots during the Liturgy; it is just horrible when the first half of the Cherubic Hymn is finished and everybody fidgets for what seems to be an eternity for the Great Entrance procession to start.
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« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2012, 06:52:26 PM »

The Coptic population in Southern California is huge. There are large congregations in every region and a number of small ones as well.
All of the large and most of the smaller parishes hold an English Divine Liturgy every Sunday. So I am not really sure why there is a need for a segregated congregation.

The two existing missions with a similar focus (Washington, D.C. and Toronto) seem to have an unhealthy attraction to Protestant influences. I hope that can be avoided in this case with careful supervision by the diocese.
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« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2012, 07:02:32 PM »

Eating beans in the agape meal?
This would be a problem in California?

I, for one, endorse more frijoles in the Agape Meal.

I've been told by others that the traditional melodies don't sound good to non-Copts.
The "buzzing" of the Coptic hymns can be off-putting to western ears. Same with some of the Byzantine tones that sound like they contain "mistakes" to western ears.

Just like many Eastern Orthodox people think there are mistakes between Western ears.
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« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2012, 07:10:50 PM »

I have a copy of a chant CD of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, by the Mount Lebanon Choir. They take a minute and a half just to sing the last syllable of "cherubim." Now that's melismatic.   Grin 

That's what happens when the timing is not quite right. What I mean is that one does not want to have dead spots during the Liturgy; it is just horrible when the first half of the Cherubic Hymn is finished and everybody fidgets for what seems to be an eternity for the Great Entrance procession to start.

We just sing it twice at my parish.
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« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2012, 10:13:25 PM »

When it comes to Melismatic hymns, and people complain of how long and useless it might be to them, I tell them that at the moment, there are too many Coptic geeks who will get rid of these hymns.  Until we find a way we can actually put a meaning to these melismatic tunes, I encourage these people to bring spiritual material to read with them.  If there's a book about lent, or holy week, or even the Bible or praying the Agpeya during this time, all of which are spiritually edifying during a time when the chanters spend their 10 minutes on a sentence.

I know a friend of mine though who tells me the monks of a certain monastery in Egypt have found spiritual meaning in the melismatic tunes, and that these long tunes tell a story that one can contemplate as he/she is chanting them.  It would be amazing if one can put these monastic understandings of the hymns into writing, or in youtube presentations.  Rather than mindless memorization of these tunes, one can learn the hymns with meditation to quickly memorize them and appreciate them more.

Until then, whenever the chanters chant in Arabic or Melismatic tunes where I won't understand them, then I pull out my spiritual book that I brought with me.
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« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2012, 10:24:49 PM »

Speaking for myself, I wouldn't think to bring a book to liturgy. I don't think that is appropriate. As I wrote before, we are to be attentive. While it's not always easy, it is what's best.

Quote
I know a friend of mine though who tells me the monks of a certain monastery in Egypt have found spiritual meaning in the melismatic tunes, and that these long tunes tell a story that one can contemplate as he/she is chanting them.  It would be amazing if one can put these monastic understandings of the hymns into writing, or in youtube presentations.  Rather than mindless memorization of these tunes, one can learn the hymns with meditation to quickly memorize them and appreciate them more.

I have never heard of that before about the monks, but that is what I try to do. To use "Ke Eperto" again, I figure that if I have seven and a half minutes to memorize and ponder 22 words, then I had better know it backwards and forwards by the time it's done. I think of all things in the church in a similar fashion: It takes exactly as long as it takes. Smiley I realize that this is a luxury and that not everyone will share that view, and that's okay. I just think that there is always something to do in connection to what is going on the liturgy.
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« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2012, 03:54:13 AM »

The two existing missions with a similar focus (Washington, D.C. and Toronto) seem to have an unhealthy attraction to Protestant influences.

Such as?
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« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2012, 05:37:07 AM »

dzheremi,
thanks for that link! especially as my audio link did not come out for some reason.
it was lovely to hear the hymn in 4 languages, and the cheeky boys trying to get on camera remind us that children are the same all over the world!
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« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2012, 05:48:34 AM »

Lol! I think I am the odd white man out.
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« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2012, 05:51:06 AM »

 Shocked
so what songs do u like to sing for Holy week, father?
maybe u could post the words if u don't have the tunes.
that way we won't argue about who has the best tunes.
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« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2012, 06:08:54 AM »

I have a copy of a chant CD of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, by the Mount Lebanon Choir. They take a minute and a half just to sing the last syllable of "cherubim." Now that's melismatic.   Grin  

That's what happens when the timing is not quite right. What I mean is that one does not want to have dead spots during the Liturgy; it is just horrible when the first half of the Cherubic Hymn is finished and everybody fidgets for what seems to be an eternity for the Great Entrance procession to start.
In London we keep singing until the priest is ready for the Great Entrance. No time for fidgeting!
In my church we have recently gone onto chanting Byzantine style. It sounds great! The reason is mention this is because singing in the British Orthodox church seems thin and Anglican and so I'd like to suggest to Fr Peter that he looks into some of this material to see how it could be adapted for use in his church.


Another gripe, while I'm here! I go to a Coptic fellowship occasionally and they sing these dreadful evangelical hymns suitable for someone with aa folksy voice. Why?
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« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2012, 06:17:09 AM »

Aidan, that is something we are working on with an EO choir master. So hopefully that will develop over this year.
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« Reply #34 on: March 07, 2012, 12:25:48 PM »

The two existing missions with a similar focus (Washington, D.C. and Toronto) seem to have an unhealthy attraction to Protestant influences.

Such as?

Let's just start with the sermon series on texts such as "The Purpose-Driven Life" and similar books. We have a wealth of spirituality in our own church. Why on earth do we need to import texts from such an alien tradition?
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« Reply #35 on: March 07, 2012, 12:31:58 PM »

Mabsoota, I found the translation of the Hours of Holy Week very well produced and moving last year. As the translations from various sources get better the text is not a problem. But I do find music problematic. I am English after all, and we do have a venerable and Orthodox Western tradition of Church music ourselves.
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« Reply #36 on: March 07, 2012, 12:44:34 PM »

Father Peter,

I've always wondered what exactly you are referring to when you refer to ancient Orthodox chant in the British isles. Is there a particular rite that is associated with your geographical area? I am most interested in the Southern European traditions (hence all the Mozarabic I'm always posting, since that's where some of my ancestors come from), so I never paid too much attention to Western or Northern Europe. I just assumed that most of that fell under the Galician usage. Is that a fair assumption? I assume that the Sarum rite is too late a development, as Bishop Osmond is a post-Great Schism figure (d. 1099, according to Wikipedia).
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« Reply #37 on: March 07, 2012, 01:03:20 PM »

I mean the whole tradition and culture of Gregorian chant, which was obviously older than the time of Pope Gregory, and became the foundation for all English church music. But the other forms of early Western church music are not so different. Certainly they are more similar than in comparison to modern Coptic chant. As far as I can see the monastic antiphonal chant of the Desert would not be liable to the development of long melisma, and therefore I think it reasonable, in my ignorance, to consider such developments later and non-monastic. Just as in the West the development of polyphony was also late.

The earliest forms of Scottish chant I have heard also seem to be part of the same Western chant tradition. Like Mozarabic and Ambrosian, these are variants of the common tradition and not different forms of church music.

When St Augustine came to England he brought the Gregorian tradition of church chant with him, and it was later taught by cantors in other parts of England. The British Church would have used some form of Western/Roman chant. St Ninian went to Rome and studied there. St Patrick was part of the Western church culture, and the Irish bishops naturally communicated with Rome when they had issues.

So as far as I can see there was and is a Western Orthodox tradition, and there is no reason why it should not be acknowledged to some extent. I just don't find the Middle Eastern forms so personally attractive - and I am certainly a committed Orthodox. I do think that there are Byzantine forms which are a better fit with British culture.
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« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2012, 07:59:32 PM »

Alleluia! I can't wait to visit there one day.

May God's Grace be upon them and grant many years to come on them... May God be with us all!
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« Reply #39 on: March 08, 2012, 04:49:42 AM »

Although now located in the Outer Hebrides amongst Presbyterians, Gaelic unaccompanied psalm singing is said to be something like the chant style of Columban monks.

I find it haunting and quite unlike Gregorian chant or any Oriental singing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3MzZgPBL3Q
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« Reply #40 on: March 08, 2012, 05:02:38 AM »

I agree, Aidan: Gaelic Psalm chanting from Lewis is amazing. There was a CD collection made of this chant circa 1994 -- I don't know if it's still in print (I think it's just called "Gaelic Psalms from Lewis" or something similar), but it's definitely worth tracking down.

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« Reply #41 on: March 08, 2012, 06:14:21 AM »

It does express what I have said, the primacy of the text and comprehension.

Do you not think it is still a lot like the metrical psalm singing of the Highlands in English? Or rather that the English metrical Psalms of the Wee Frees are not so much removed.

It is a bit like Ethiopian chant - not that I am suggesting a link :-)
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« Reply #42 on: March 08, 2012, 08:21:21 AM »

"American Orthodox" sounds a lot like the OCA, so there is a risk for confusion.

Also, I must say I am concerned by the Coptic Church creating ethnic British, French and now American parishes... are the regular Coptic parishes only for Egyptians? I still prefer to think that an Orthodox parish, whether EO or OO, should be open to people of all backgrounds.
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« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2012, 08:49:40 AM »

Surely immigrants should eventually adopt much of the local culture, in terms of language, and perhaps elements of musicality at least, so that they are able to be American Coptic Orthodox or whatever?
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« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2012, 09:50:27 AM »

It is a bit like Ethiopian chant - not that I am suggesting a link :-)

Remarkably similar, actually. If they switched to Ge'ez and added some more twirls it would be difficult to tell the two styles apart. At least the one in the clip. Very beautiful.


It's quite interesting how "eastern sounding" much of European folk music really is. I brought a Norwegian friend of mine to church a couple of weeks ago. While he was unfamiliar with Byzantine chant, he said he felt very at home with it because of its similarity to the scales of the Norwegian folk music he grew up hearing.
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« Reply #45 on: March 08, 2012, 01:54:38 PM »

Also, I must say I am concerned by the Coptic Church creating ethnic British, French and now American parishes... are the regular Coptic parishes only for Egyptians? I still prefer to think that an Orthodox parish, whether EO or OO, should be open to people of all backgrounds.

This thought has occurred to me, as well. I think that further splintering of Orthodoxy alongside so-called "ethnic lines" (a weird notion in America, as "American" is not an ethnicity) isn't good. If you don't have to be Egyptian to be Orthodox (and you don't), then it follows that you shouldn't have to be American to be Orthodox, either. Of course, you still are American (or British, or Chinese, or Ethiopian, or whatever) by virtue of your history, but if you are from a place without a long Orthodox history, you have to take some cues from some other place that already has that history, right? So the OCA, for instance, while being mostly converts, keeps the Byzantine praxis of its mother church. But I suppose that because of the greater relative difference between the cultures of Egypt and America (or Egypt and Britain, or Egypt and France) than those of America and Eastern Europe (which, while being very different, is still ultimately Europe after all), this is for some reason unpalatable in the case of the Coptic church in America. Not to me, so much, since I already spoke some Arabic and ate beans before I joined the church (Grin), but for others. But then what? Because they are uncomfortable with Coptic hymnody, it should be acceptable to have missionary parishes where the sermons are based on Protestant concepts and some meetings where they sing pop evangelical/Protestant songs? I don't think that's acceptable at all. That's sort of seceding America to those very unorthodox ideas just because we don't have the history of Roman Orthodox chant like Father Peter says existed in Britain, and Coptic spirituality is largely foreign to us. Well, it's never going to stop being foreign if instead we feed the people something else in the name of Americanism. I don't want things like "the Purpose Driven Life" and Protestant hymns to be identified with American Orthodoxy, either EO or OO. Not because I hate America or anything (I love it; it's where I keep all my stuff), but because those things aren't Orthodox to begin with.

But what is the alternative, in such a country full of immigrants? Respectfully, I don't think those who are so gung-ho for more missionary parishes have really thought about that. Obviously, it would be bad and untenable for there to be a "Latin-American Coptic Orthodox Church" with Mozarabic chant, a "French-American Coptic Orthodox Church" with Galician chant, an "Italian-American Coptic Orthodox Chant" with Ambrosian/Milanese chant, etc. Untenable and unnecessary, I would think, as many Americans are n-th generation and don't identify with their ancestral homelands in the first place. What's out there for them, and moreover, since all of these concessions really do seem to boil down to "but the white people don't/won't like our chant", what on earth would distinctly American Orthodox chant be like, if Coptic chant is so unacceptable?

I hate to put it so bluntly, but I think if we let American culture determine the acceptable expression of Orthodoxy based on what the majority of Americans are comfortable with, we're likely to end up with something that isn't actually Orthodox at all, even if we put "Coptic" or some other modifier in front of it. I am a big fan of being changed by the church and pray for it every day. I don't see why this can't also be the goal of the church overall in its action within the lands of immigration with regard to the cultures of those lands: Accommodate what is conducive to fostering Orthodoxy among the native population, but do not let their likes and dislikes (which are malleable anyway; I know plenty of people who thought they'd hate Ethiopian food until I forced them to come to the local Ethiopian restaurant with me...heh) determine its character. Orthodoxy, after all, comes first, and that should mean no Protestant hymns at meetings, no Protestant books in sermons, etc. You have to turn them away from such things, not embrace them just to get more people to show up.

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« Reply #46 on: March 08, 2012, 02:15:47 PM »

I think you miss the point that Orthodoxy has always been enculturated. That is why there is a Coptic Orthodox Church.

I also think that you are being too negative, and a little unfair, about what an American Orthodox Church does look like and should look like. Who is suggesting that it should encompass Purpose Driven Life and Evangelical songs?

If I am British, as I am, then why should I not worship God as an Orthodox Christian in my own language, and with appropriate music? This has been the universal practice of Orthodoxy, EXCEPT when it comes to the West in modern times. Orthodoxy is properly respectful of culture. I am not sure why you think that is a problem?

If there is a Coptic Orthodox Church then there should be an American Orthodox Church. The problem is when a Church from one culture insists that its language and music must be privileged, when in fact this was not what happened in its own history. Why does the Coptic Orthodox Church not use Armenian Chant, or vice-versa? Why then should Western Orthodox not be able to use Western music?

Once again, it is unfair to suggest that enculturation must lead to evangelicalism. It is unfair to suggest that there should be a Church culture for every minority culture in the US. But there could very reasonably be a Spanish speaking community, and an English speaking community. I am not sure why the fact that clearly you appreciate Coptic chant and Arabic, which is a blessing to you, means that there is something wrong with the majority of Western folk who don't.

I am not sure why you speak as if it was not absolutely clear that there is a tradition of Orthodox Chant in the West? Why speak as if it is something I have made up? Why speak as if every Orthodox group that is trying to engage with English speaking people is doing something wrong? I don't want anyone in my congregation to have to learn Coptic or Arabic to be Orthodox, am I an evangelical or deficient in some other way?

Orthodoxy should be open to people of all backgrounds. In my own British Orthodox congregation this is the case. I have had English, Egyptian, Syrian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Indian, French, Greek, Russian, Romanian, Latvian, Bulgarian and Italian. But we all worship in the language of England, which is where we all are, and we all use a simple chant that is Western, could be improved, but is appropriate to our situation. I don't see how any other situation is tenable outside of recent immigrant communities.
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« Reply #47 on: March 08, 2012, 03:59:20 PM »

I think you miss the point that Orthodoxy has always been enculturated. That is why there is a Coptic Orthodox Church.

With due respect, Father, I thought my whole post was a question about how it should be enculturated, not a denial that it is. Perhaps it didn't read that way. I apologize for being unclear.

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I also think that you are being too negative, and a little unfair, about what an American Orthodox Church does look like and should look like. Who is suggesting that it should encompass Purpose Driven Life and Evangelical songs?

Huh? I am certainly not suggesting anything of the kind. I am recalling observations made by Aidan (post #32) and Brigidsboy (post #34) about what already goes on in some churches, and saying that it shouldn't be this way.

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If I am British, as I am, then why should I not worship God as an Orthodox Christian in my own language, and with appropriate music? This has been the universal practice of Orthodoxy, EXCEPT when it comes to the West in modern times. Orthodoxy is properly respectful of culture. I am not sure why you think that is a problem?


I feel like you and I have been over this territory many times, Father. Of course you should worship in your own language, but in a manner that is consistent with Orthodoxy. You (and most of the peoples of Europe, I'd suspect) are blessed to have authentic Christian traditions dating back to the very early church from which you can draw on in order to call the people back to their Orthodox roots, which are after all at the very heart of European Christian culture. America is different. Most of the country was settled by men and women of other persuasions, whose descendents by and large will not be moved by appeals to St. Athanasius' time spent in exile in Belgium or what have you. They would likely look at that and say "What does Belgium have to do with me?" This country understands Christianity to whatever extent it does almost entirely in Protestant and/or post-modern terms, so there is a lot that the average Christian is comfortable with that is not acceptable within Orthodoxy (and here I am not getting up on my high horse, but repeating what I was told in a conversation just last week with an elder of the church here in Albuquerque). I suppose you could call it a problem of rootlessness, but it seems much more severe here in America as there are precious few shrines to visit, few monasteries, few organizations or ensembles committed to reviving ancient chant forms, etc. So if it seems like I am a bit more negative than you, it is hopefully a reflection of the serious appraisal of the state of Christianity in this country. We have a lot of work to do. We don't have a native Orthodoxy save what the Russians brought to my home area, and to a few of the native people (Tlingit people and others).

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If there is a Coptic Orthodox Church then there should be an American Orthodox Church. The problem is when a Church from one culture insists that its language and music must be privileged, when in fact this was not what happened in its own history. Why does the Coptic Orthodox Church not use Armenian Chant, or vice-versa? Why then should Western Orthodox not be able to use Western music?

They should be able to. I am arguing that what they shouldn't be able to do is bring whatever it is they thought Christianity was into the church with very little oversight, all in the name of being comfortable or supposed cultural sensitivity. If we have to create a new church, let it be with its own chant in its own language, not a reflection of the Protestant and increasingly secularized Christianity that has ruled much of this country for centuries. Are we "Americans" first, Orthodox second? No, and there needn't be any sharp divide there, either. You can be both, but that doesn't mean that the church should mirror wider society when wider society is so often against the Orthodox faith. That's my only point. We should be changed by our struggle within the church, not struggling to change the church to suit us.

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Once again, it is unfair to suggest that enculturation must lead to evangelicalism. It is unfair to suggest that there should be a Church culture for every minority culture in the US. But there could very reasonably be a Spanish speaking community, and an English speaking community. I am not sure why the fact that clearly you appreciate Coptic chant and Arabic, which is a blessing to you, means that there is something wrong with the majority of Western folk who don't.

Father, I'm part of that Spanish-speaking community. There's no divide here. I can walk and chew gum (as the American saying goes), and for those who can't, let them just walk. That's fine. But let us strive to be Orthodox in all things. If having a Spanish-speaking community in the Coptic church or any other church means that some cultural aspects that would otherwise be unacceptable ("evil eye", el cucuy) are accepted, then isn't that doing a disservice to the missionary effort? I would be against it. I would hope that everyone would be against it. Similarly with the majority of Western people. We can't just let everything in the name of letting everyone in. Music, of course, is a bit of a grey area, if you will, as there is often more trouble in the associations of particular forms than in their content. I once got into a very interesting discussion with a Roman Catholic about the permissibility of the "Mariachi Masses" that you sometimes see in Mexico. While there is perhaps nothing inherently unorthodox about the guitar or the fiddle (it depends on who you ask, I guess), my RC friend maintained that as the context for the use of such ensembles is a worldly one, they ought to be avoided in the church lest we bring worldliness in with them. I'm still not entirely sure how to take that argument (after all, don't things evolve away from worldliness, as the things of this world that may be baptized are baptized?), but I think that absent solid Orthodox teaching first, such permissiveness is likely to lead to some wrong ideas about just what we're doing in the church. Y'know, like how some people argue that dancing should be permitted in all churches because the Ethiopians have something in their tradition that outsiders would call dancing. This forgets that the Ethiopians are first and foremost Orthodox. The key is always in being first and foremost Orthodox. Proper musical forms should, at least in theory, follow, once the people understand what it is for (i.e., the theology to be expressed through it).

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I am not sure why you speak as if it was not absolutely clear that there is a tradition of Orthodox Chant in the West? Why speak as if it is something I have made up? Why speak as if every Orthodox group that is trying to engage with English speaking people is doing something wrong? I don't want anyone in my congregation to have to learn Coptic or Arabic to be Orthodox, am I an evangelical or deficient in some other way?

Father, forgive me, but I don't understand what you are referring to here. Do you mean my other post where I asked you about the Orthodox tradition in the British isles? I know that it is not possible to convey tone through the internet, but that was really just a question. I didn't have ulterior motives in asking it. Like I specified in that post, I asked because I didn't know, because my focus as far as Europe is concerned is on other areas (Spain and Portugal, mainly). I did not mean even for a second to suggest that you are making anything up, or any of the other things you apparently think I suggested through that question. It was really just a question because I didn't know, and I have read posts from you that mention it but didn't talk about what exactly it is. I am sorry if I offended you in some way with my question; that was not at all my intention. You have information I was curious about, that's all. Embarrassed

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Orthodoxy should be open to people of all backgrounds. In my own British Orthodox congregation this is the case. I have had English, Egyptian, Syrian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Indian, French, Greek, Russian, Romanian, Latvian, Bulgarian and Italian. But we all worship in the language of England, which is where we all are, and we all use a simple chant that is Western, could be improved, but is appropriate to our situation. I don't see how any other situation is tenable outside of recent immigrant communities.

I am in agreement with you, Father. I am writing about the situation in America, which I am not sure is entirely comparable to the situation in England, for reasons I have given earlier in this reply.
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« Reply #48 on: March 08, 2012, 04:07:15 PM »

Also, I must say I am concerned by the Coptic Church creating ethnic British, French and now American parishes... are the regular Coptic parishes only for Egyptians? I still prefer to think that an Orthodox parish, whether EO or OO, should be open to people of all backgrounds.
Why? Coptic just means Egyptian. So Coptic Orthodox is the Orthodox faith with Egyptian culture, traditions, rituals, etc. It's the same with any other Orthodox group. Armenian Orthodox have their rituals, Ethiopian Orthodox have theirs, Indian Orthodox theirs, and so on. As long as the faith is the same, the rituals can be whatever the ethnic group wants it to be. There shouldn't be a problem with ethnic British, French or American parishes because it is one common faith, and that is what's important.
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« Reply #49 on: March 08, 2012, 04:16:07 PM »

we all use a simple chant that is Western

Father, is there any recording online where your chant could be heard?
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« Reply #50 on: March 08, 2012, 08:33:47 PM »

I just want to ask something simple here.  What musical culture "crosses the line" of Orthodoxy so to speak?  For instance, what does one think of the "gospel music" tradition that many Protestants, particularly black Protestants?  Are they perhaps not something that can be baptized into Orthodoxy, in a liturgical format?

I remember when I was younger, I never knew anything about how Ethiopians prayed.  But I knew that as Copts, it was unacceptable to have instruments like pianos, and that the "cymbals and triangles were nothing but ways to help people follow the beat, and not to be understood as instruments."  I was taught that no clapping, moving the body in some form of dance, or ululating was allowed.  We should be still, always closing our eyes, always looking up, always praying with our hands lifted.

Perhaps, ancient Egyptians always thought this was proper form of worship.  At the same time, the ancient Coptic fathers did not force that type of culture on the Ethiopians.  They developed their clapping, dancing, drum beating, ululating praises into a liturgical form while keeping the Orthodox faith.

So then, one asks, where exactly is music and culture cross the line into heterodoxy?  I think one doesn't truly know.  But one at least, as HH Pope Shenouda teaches, should allow the culture itself to develop freely her own rites.  We don't have to, but someone will later come and do so probably themselves after understanding what Orthodox liturgy really means.  The Ethiopian rites weren't developed until St. Yared revolutionized worship.  It seemed until then, there was a form of worship that wasn't very palatable to the Ethiopian ears, and perhaps it's okay to conclude that this was probably an ancient form of Coptic worship that St. Yared seemed to have replaced with what St. Yared felt was appropriate spiritual worship for the Ethiopian ears and eyes, and this was two and a half centuries after St. Athanasius' sponsored mission to Ethiopia.

Understandably, "American culture" is tough to define today.  But as Orthodoxy grows, perhaps one can create communities of cultural Orthodox acceptable to the different cultures of the US.  I'm not saying however that we are the ones to do so.  We at least offer the Coptic tradition in English, and if someone comes by with the spirit of St. Yared to create something acceptable in a liturgical format, then why not?  This seems to be the precedent at least with ancient Coptic missions in Africa.
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« Reply #51 on: March 08, 2012, 09:24:33 PM »

I just want to ask something simple here.  What musical culture "crosses the line" of Orthodoxy so to speak?  For instance, what does one think of the "gospel music" tradition that many Protestants, particularly black Protestants?  Are they perhaps not something that can be baptized into Orthodoxy, in a liturgical format?

I would think so, yeah. There is an African American composer by the name of Grayson Warren Brown who did something similar in bringing the Gospel music style to Roman Catholic liturgical texts in the 1960s. He recorded an album of liturgical material in that style with the choir of an African-American college (the name of which escapes me at the moment) . I'm sure it was controversial for its time, but I thought it was neat.

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Perhaps, ancient Egyptians always thought this was proper form of worship.  At the same time, the ancient Coptic fathers did not force that type of culture on the Ethiopians.  They developed their clapping, dancing, drum beating, ululating praises into a liturgical form while keeping the Orthodox faith.

Yes, and I think that Westerners must do the same. This is another reason I would be against the importation of any Protestant hymns into the church in any form. Their presence would seem to retard the development of Orthodox tradition. (i.e., it's easier to sing a pre-existing Protestant hymn than to write an Orthodox hymn in English, as there are far more of the former than the latter.)

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So then, one asks, where exactly is music and culture cross the line into heterodoxy?  I think one doesn't truly know.  But one at least, as HH Pope Shenouda teaches, should allow the culture itself to develop freely her own rites.  We don't have to, but someone will later come and do so probably themselves after understanding what Orthodox liturgy really means.
 

God willing, yes.

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Understandably, "American culture" is tough to define today.  But as Orthodoxy grows, perhaps one can create communities of cultural Orthodox acceptable to the different cultures of the US.  I'm not saying however that we are the ones to do so.  We at least offer the Coptic tradition in English, and if someone comes by with the spirit of St. Yared to create something acceptable in a liturgical format, then why not?  This seems to be the precedent at least with ancient Coptic missions in Africa.

Agreed on all fronts, except for the "we are not the ones to do so" part. My perspective is that of a native-born American not of Coptic ethnic/cultural background...though of course I am thoroughly unqualified for other reasons...  Wink
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« Reply #52 on: March 08, 2012, 09:56:46 PM »

I just want to ask something simple here.  What musical culture "crosses the line" of Orthodoxy so to speak?  For instance, what does one think of the "gospel music" tradition that many Protestants, particularly black Protestants?  Are they perhaps not something that can be baptized into Orthodoxy, in a liturgical format?

I would think so, yeah. There is an African American composer by the name of Grayson Warren Brown who did something similar in bringing the Gospel music style to Roman Catholic liturgical texts in the 1960s. He recorded an album of liturgical material in that style with the choir of an African-American college (the name of which escapes me at the moment) . I'm sure it was controversial for its time, but I thought it was neat.

I would so love to hear this...that sounds amazing.  Smiley

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Perhaps, ancient Egyptians always thought this was proper form of worship.  At the same time, the ancient Coptic fathers did not force that type of culture on the Ethiopians.  They developed their clapping, dancing, drum beating, ululating praises into a liturgical form while keeping the Orthodox faith.

Yes, and I think that Westerners must do the same. This is another reason I would be against the importation of any Protestant hymns into the church in any form. Their presence would seem to retard the development of Orthodox tradition. (i.e., it's easier to sing a pre-existing Protestant hymn than to write an Orthodox hymn in English, as there are far more of the former than the latter.)

Well, I don't know much about how Protestant hymns will fit into an Orthodox liturgical atmosphere.  I'm not after all comfortable with the guitar and fire camp Christianity, but again, I'm not the one to judge.  I'm only speaking based on theoretical basis here.  But considering that the Ethiopians do have some of the same liturgies we pray verbatim, how would the words of the Thanksgiving prayer for instance be used in a different musical setting?  Does not have to be the Protestant hymns themselves, but at least let's start with the already established words of the ancient churches.  Then perhaps, using that basis, these cultures may create some amazing hymns that mirror the other churches' developments.

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So then, one asks, where exactly is music and culture cross the line into heterodoxy?  I think one doesn't truly know.  But one at least, as HH Pope Shenouda teaches, should allow the culture itself to develop freely her own rites.  We don't have to, but someone will later come and do so probably themselves after understanding what Orthodox liturgy really means.
 

God willing, yes.

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Understandably, "American culture" is tough to define today.  But as Orthodoxy grows, perhaps one can create communities of cultural Orthodox acceptable to the different cultures of the US.  I'm not saying however that we are the ones to do so.  We at least offer the Coptic tradition in English, and if someone comes by with the spirit of St. Yared to create something acceptable in a liturgical format, then why not?  This seems to be the precedent at least with ancient Coptic missions in Africa.

Agreed on all fronts, except for the "we are not the ones to do so" part. My perspective is that of a native-born American not of Coptic ethnic/cultural background...though of course I am thoroughly unqualified for other reasons...  Wink

Well, forgive my racial "we."  Wink  I meant Egyptians like myself, who grew up with Coptic music, but might be tone deaf to other cultural norms.  I do believe that if other cultures do develop something acceptable and Orthodox, even if outside our comfort zones, then for the sake of mission, I should support its growth.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 09:58:58 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #53 on: March 08, 2012, 10:57:51 PM »

I would so love to hear this...that sounds amazing.  Smiley

I think I got rid of the original LP before I moved, but I might have converted it to CD before I sold it. I'll try to dig it up and put some of it online somewhere this weekend.

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Well, I don't know much about how Protestant hymns will fit into an Orthodox liturgical atmosphere.
 

Ahhh...there's the rub, right? Smiley If the Protestant hymns were an aid in creating the proper liturgical atmosphere, we would likely not see so many ex-Protestants among us here, there, and everywhere. (Ditto RCs, to include myself, though some of their music does still do the job -- the trouble there is that what passes for a musical setting in the average RC mass is just...well, sad, really. I shouldn't have to go to a monastery to feel like I am worshiping God with other Christians, but anyway...)

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I'm not after all comfortable with the guitar and fire camp Christianity, but again, I'm not the one to judge.  I'm only speaking based on theoretical basis here.  But considering that the Ethiopians do have some of the same liturgies we pray verbatim, how would the words of the Thanksgiving prayer for instance be used in a different musical setting?
 

It's an interesting question. I have only heard it in one musical setting, of course, but there is nothing to stop it from being prayed in another. I would have no problem with it being put into a traditional Spanish/Mozarab setting (who could argue against something like this?), but then that is just a bit of my own
ethnic/cultural bias poking through. Smiley That's why I asked earlier about how this is supposed to work in a country of hundreds of different ethnic and cultural groups. The RCs already have a setup whereby the Anglos have their Mass and the Latinos theirs, but I would be afraid (because I went to many Spanish masses when I was RC) about the possibility of effectively creating two separate and unequal communities. Probably with the OO it would not be a problem, though.

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Does not have to be the Protestant hymns themselves, but at least let's start with the already established words of the ancient churches.  Then perhaps, using that basis, these cultures may create some amazing hymns that mirror the other churches' developments.

Yes. And make no mistake about it: You can find plenty of brilliant examples of early American and Canadian folk melodies that could be adopted for some sort of religious use (I hesitate to say "liturgical", because I don't know what goes into developing a liturgy). Take, for instance, American banjo player Roscoe Holcomb's take on the American traditional "I am a man of constant sorrow" (first recorded 1913, but probably composed sometime in the late 1800s). It's really moving, haunting almost, but of course it is a folk/blues song. Could something similar be made with an ancient liturgical text? I don't see why not, it just hasn't happened yet. Perhaps these melodies are too old fashioned or provincial sounding to appeal to wide cross-sections of America. And there again, we would run into the issue of the many cultures in this country: Would we have a more "Hispanic" style of chant here in Albuquerque (and what about the Navajos? They're about 5% of our population), but a more "Lutheran-esque" chant in the historically Scandinavian areas of the country, like Minnesota? At what point would it end? From my point of view, the problem is not so much that American culture is hard to define, it's that it is not one thing and we are hyper-individualists, so collective identity is hard to establish on a macro-level. For some people, an "American" anything would probably involve an air show and Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA", while others think of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon. Both those groups are equally American, even if each might not see the other on the same level. So it would take a long time to develop something organically.

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Well, forgive my racial "we."  Wink  I meant Egyptians like myself, who grew up with Coptic music, but might be tone deaf to other cultural norms.  I do believe that if other cultures do develop something acceptable and Orthodox, even if outside our comfort zones, then for the sake of mission, I should support its growth.

I agree.
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« Reply #54 on: March 09, 2012, 12:52:23 AM »

Yes. And make no mistake about it: You can find plenty of brilliant examples of early American and Canadian folk melodies that could be adopted for some sort of religious use (I hesitate to say "liturgical", because I don't know what goes into developing a liturgy). Take, for instance, American banjo player Roscoe Holcomb's take on the American traditional "I am a man of constant sorrow" (first recorded 1913, but probably composed sometime in the late 1800s). It's really moving, haunting almost, but of course it is a folk/blues song. Could something similar be made with an ancient liturgical text? I don't see why not, it just hasn't happened yet. Perhaps these melodies are too old fashioned or provincial sounding to appeal to wide cross-sections of America.

Well, "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" seemed to have modernized this song for our modern ears.  But, yes, I can see this being a possible "sub-American" culture of liturgical development.  It may sound old, but it has a sense of potential spirituality, and very hauntingly so.

I almost felt that he was beginning to say Lamentations, "I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath..."
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« Reply #55 on: March 10, 2012, 12:58:44 PM »

The mission's website now has a link to photos of the first liturgy, as well as an MP3 you can listen to.

http://stpauloc.org/
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« Reply #56 on: March 10, 2012, 07:53:02 PM »

They definitely did make in English a lot of the Coptic hymns we chant here:

http://www.youtube.com/stpauloc

I will caution the listener, while beautiful, some of the hymns do seem "abbreviated" musically from the original Coptic ones.  Wink

But otherwise, for a mission-oriented purpose, these are a nice collection, and a good beginning.  I guess it's good for Western cultures who are not in tune to the melismatic tunes the original Coptic ones give.
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« Reply #57 on: March 11, 2012, 02:56:39 AM »

It is fashionable and trendy to have missionary parishes nowadays in the Coptic Church.

Lord have mercy!

Is your post suggesting that missionary parishes are an unfortunate development?  If so, why?

There are issues with the concept that is validated by practice and experience. A visit to the any of the "mission" churches in Toronto or Washington D.C. will make the issues clear if one is sensitive to Orthodox worship. A look at the priests who run the show will make it more evident.

There are examples of successful conversions due to interaction with true orthodox believers inside and outside the church, but these individuals do not label themselves as "mission" churches or groups for marketing purposes.
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« Reply #58 on: March 11, 2012, 03:15:29 AM »

It is fashionable and trendy to have missionary parishes nowadays in the Coptic Church.

Lord have mercy!

Is your post suggesting that missionary parishes are an unfortunate development?  If so, why?

There are issues with the concept that is validated by practice and experience. A visit to the any of the "mission" churches in Toronto or Washington D.C. will make the issues clear if one is sensitive to Orthodox worship. A look at the priests who run the show will make it more evident.

There are examples of successful conversions due to interaction with true orthodox believers inside and outside the church, but these individuals do not label themselves as "mission" churches or groups for marketing purposes.

I didn't think the DC church started as a mission church, but that the priest attracted non-Copts to it, which seem, from my few visits to the church, quite promising.  Thus far, the priest himself, even though he might not be something we're accustomed to listening his way of preaching, doesn't seem to hold any wrong beliefs as far as I've heard him.
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« Reply #59 on: March 12, 2012, 08:13:48 PM »

A tangent about possible Protestantizing influences in mission parishes was split off and put in the private forum:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,43563.new.html#top

If you do not have access to the private forum, please pm Fr. Chris for admission.

I ask that all future posts alleging or discussing Protestantizing in mission parishes be posted in the new thread.
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« Reply #60 on: March 13, 2012, 04:14:33 PM »

thanks, salpy, i feel better for it to be in the private forum.
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