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« on: April 09, 2012, 12:03:18 AM »

I'm curious why the choir arrangements are so difficult? It makes me wonder how it is possible that anyone outside the choir is able to follow along with many of these complex melodies/rhythm's etc. This doesn't seem to lend itself towards laity participation. Sure they are beautiful, but this comes at a significant cost, imo. Discuss.
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 03:50:44 AM »

I like the beauty of choral music during the Divine Services; congregational participation can be interspersed, but certain hymns, like the Cherubic hymn, can be far more inspirational when executed by the choir and the congregation can sub-sing, essentially, along with the choir, for those who so desire.  I like a mix of congregational participation and choral music.
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 05:53:44 AM »

When our choir sings the Cherubic Hymn, they use a simple arrangement, and I like to sing along.  Smiley When it's just our chanter, he uses a more complex style, and I can't really follow along.
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 09:51:00 AM »

I like the beauty of choral music during the Divine Services; congregational participation can be interspersed, but certain hymns, like the Cherubic hymn, can be far more inspirational when executed by the choir and the congregation can sub-sing, essentially, along with the choir, for those who so desire.  I like a mix of congregational participation and choral music.
As do I.
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 11:07:29 AM »

When our choir sings the Cherubic Hymn, they use a simple arrangement, and I like to sing along.  Smiley When it's just our chanter, he uses a more complex style, and I can't really follow along.

the choir usually sings it at a very slow and unpredictable pace...its hard to even understand the words much less follow along if your in the pews.
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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2012, 10:56:29 AM »

When our choir sings the Cherubic Hymn, they use a simple arrangement, and I like to sing along.  Smiley When it's just our chanter, he uses a more complex style, and I can't really follow along.

the choir usually sings it at a very slow and unpredictable pace...its hard to even understand the words much less follow along if your in the pews.

Over the years in many churches of many ethnic heritages, it seems that Bortiansky's Cherubic # 7 has become common. It is simple, even for the smallest of choirs and easy to sing along in the congregation.  There are a lot of versions on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4_DB4cxOz8&context=C44833f8ADvjVQa1PpcFM4ysPe8Mq8sj7eEbIzJF6GEPuKz70GrMo=   
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2012, 11:14:07 AM »

When our choir sings the Cherubic Hymn, they use a simple arrangement, and I like to sing along.  Smiley When it's just our chanter, he uses a more complex style, and I can't really follow along.

the choir usually sings it at a very slow and unpredictable pace...its hard to even understand the words much less follow along if your in the pews.

Over the years in many churches of many ethnic heritages, it seems that Bortiansky's Cherubic # 7 has become common. It is simple, even for the smallest of choirs and easy to sing along in the congregation.  There are a lot of versions on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4_DB4cxOz8&context=C44833f8ADvjVQa1PpcFM4ysPe8Mq8sj7eEbIzJF6GEPuKz70GrMo=   


What you say is very ture, but I have often wondered if this piece is so popular because it is so
western" in terms of music and the author was influenced by Italian music.
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2012, 11:29:14 AM »

When our choir sings the Cherubic Hymn, they use a simple arrangement, and I like to sing along.  Smiley When it's just our chanter, he uses a more complex style, and I can't really follow along.

the choir usually sings it at a very slow and unpredictable pace...its hard to even understand the words much less follow along if your in the pews.

Over the years in many churches of many ethnic heritages, it seems that Bortiansky's Cherubic # 7 has become common. It is simple, even for the smallest of choirs and easy to sing along in the congregation.  There are a lot of versions on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4_DB4cxOz8&context=C44833f8ADvjVQa1PpcFM4ysPe8Mq8sj7eEbIzJF6GEPuKz70GrMo=   


What you say is very ture, but I have often wondered if this piece is so popular because it is so
western" in terms of music and the author was influenced by Italian music.

Its simple and quiet and while polyphonic - it is evocative of the mood set by many chant arrangements of the Cherubic - be they be  Kievan, Gallician, Byzantine or whatever.  Then again, I am not upset by choral singing for the most part....
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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2012, 11:52:32 AM »

I love choral music and believe that it should be simple enough for the congregation to sing along. That said, I cannot stand overly complicated arrangements that are designed to show off the capabilities of the choir. And, if you are a good choir the temptation is surely there to select such a piece, which is fine for a concert but IMHO totally inappropriate for the Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2012, 12:07:36 PM »

When our choir sings the Cherubic Hymn, they use a simple arrangement, and I like to sing along.  Smiley When it's just our chanter, he uses a more complex style, and I can't really follow along.

the choir usually sings it at a very slow and unpredictable pace...its hard to even understand the words much less follow along if your in the pews.

Over the years in many churches of many ethnic heritages, it seems that Bortiansky's Cherubic # 7 has become common. It is simple, even for the smallest of choirs and easy to sing along in the congregation.  There are a lot of versions on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4_DB4cxOz8&context=C44833f8ADvjVQa1PpcFM4ysPe8Mq8sj7eEbIzJF6GEPuKz70GrMo=   


What you say is very ture, but I have often wondered if this piece is so popular because it is so
western" in terms of music and the author was influenced by Italian music.

What's wrong with Italian music? Or Western music? Is there something specifically sacred in any kind of music or language? I know that Muslims think that Arabic is (because they believe the Quran was written by Allah). I also know that some Protestants consider the original King James Version to be sacred (I could never understand the reasoning). I am not aware any dogmatic pronouncement on the subject by the Orthodox, the clinging to Old Slavonic and Greek notwithstanding.

Regarding Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Serbian choral compositions, I believe that they are less jarring to the ear, intellect and emotions of some folks than Byzantine singing. May be it should not be so, but why should Byzantine sound be normative? I hasten to point out that I grew up in the Bulgarian Church that uses both Byzantine chanting and "western" choral singing. At the present, I am attending an OCA parish that uses choral music of all sorts of provenance: it is true that ir is mostly Russian, but there are pieces that are of Byzantine, Ukrainian and Bulgarian origin. The one thing that distinguishes them all is their singability by the congregation. (Actually, there is one piece that is of 'concert" type--the hymn that is sung during the entrance of a bishop and I dislike it immensely perhaps because it has a trio section and our choir has precisely the wrong singers in that trio section).
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« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2012, 03:31:36 PM »

When our choir sings the Cherubic Hymn, they use a simple arrangement, and I like to sing along.  Smiley When it's just our chanter, he uses a more complex style, and I can't really follow along.

the choir usually sings it at a very slow and unpredictable pace...its hard to even understand the words much less follow along if your in the pews.

Over the years in many churches of many ethnic heritages, it seems that Bortiansky's Cherubic # 7 has become common. It is simple, even for the smallest of choirs and easy to sing along in the congregation.  There are a lot of versions on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4_DB4cxOz8&context=C44833f8ADvjVQa1PpcFM4ysPe8Mq8sj7eEbIzJF6GEPuKz70GrMo=    


What you say is very ture, but I have often wondered if this piece is so popular because it is so
western" in terms of music and the author was influenced by Italian music.

What's wrong with Italian music? Or Western music? Is there something specifically sacred in any kind of music or language? I know that Muslims think that Arabic is (because they believe the Quran was written by Allah). I also know that some Protestants consider the original King James Version to be sacred (I could never understand the reasoning). I am not aware any dogmatic pronouncement on the subject by the Orthodox, the clinging to Old Slavonic and Greek notwithstanding.

Regarding Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Serbian choral compositions, I believe that they are less jarring to the ear, intellect and emotions of some folks than Byzantine singing. May be it should not be so, but why should Byzantine sound be normative? I hasten to point out that I grew up in the Bulgarian Church that uses both Byzantine chanting and "western" choral singing. At the present, I am attending an OCA parish that uses choral music of all sorts of provenance: it is true that ir is mostly Russian, but there are pieces that are of Byzantine, Ukrainian and Bulgarian origin. The one thing that distinguishes them all is their singability by the congregation. (Actually, there is one piece that is of 'concert" type--the hymn that is sung during the entrance of a bishop and I dislike it immensely perhaps because it has a trio section and our choir has precisely the wrong singers in that trio section).

Indeed, as we approach Pascha you reminded me of the popular 'Angel Cried' sung as a trio followed by Shine, Shine. Back when I was a child, the choir was large and experienced at my church and 'Anhel Vopijase' was indeed angelic as sung by the sopranos and altos. We sounded similar to this version. Today, well - not so much...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PwzMvX8DhY Personally, I prefer the Carpatho-Russian chant version for the congregation when chanted properly (although this one is way toooo slow....)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yadL8qYYrfs   This simple chant arrangement is also beautiful and can easily be mastered by most congregations or choirs for that matter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9B7WiNK9t4 Oh well....

What hymn are you referring to for the entrance of the hierarch? The Rusyns have a chant hymn - 'Vosel Jesi - You have entered, O High Priest' for when the Bishop enters the church building prior to vesting. (This is the best I could find from an instructional recording made years ago in Slovakia. http://metropolitancantorinstitute.org/recordings/PappIrmologion/VoselJesi.mp3)

I have also heard the choral  or chanted Bohoroditse Divo/Hail Mary sung at this time as well in the Rusyn or Ukrainian tradition. (this is the melody, but obviously this is not an entrance ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5NJJ9drGB0)  

I suspect each of our respective and venerable traditions have a particular piece for this.

If you are referring to the hierarchichal procession at the Small Entrance, that melody - O come let us Worship - is common among the Russians, Ukrainains and Rusyns - so I suspect it is really old in its common origin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNhoTeN30AQ

To my east/north Slavic ears, the Byzantine Chants are indeed foreign sounding, but I know that to the ears of those who grew up with them or their variants- Greeks, South Slavs, Arabs etc... they are most pleasing and appropriate. I really believe that to God that they are all equal as long as the hearts and souls of those who sing them are possessed with the right 'duch' or spirit!
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« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2012, 03:50:38 PM »

I'm curious why the choir arrangements are so difficult? It makes me wonder how it is possible that anyone outside the choir is able to follow along with many of these complex melodies/rhythm's etc. This doesn't seem to lend itself towards laity participation. Sure they are beautiful, but this comes at a significant cost, imo. Discuss.

While liturgical music should certainly be comprehensible, not every sung part of the divine services were meant for lay participation. While the laity should traditionally sing the responses (Lord, have mercy; Amen; To Thee, O Lord; Holy, holy, holy, etc.), other parts, such as the Cherubic hymn and the Communion hymn, are properly reserved for the chanters.
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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 04:00:23 PM »

I'm curious why the choir arrangements are so difficult? It makes me wonder how it is possible that anyone outside the choir is able to follow along with many of these complex melodies/rhythm's etc. This doesn't seem to lend itself towards laity participation. Sure they are beautiful, but this comes at a significant cost, imo. Discuss.

While liturgical music should certainly be comprehensible, not every sung part of the divine services were meant for lay participation. While the laity should traditionally sing the responses (Lord, have mercy; Amen; To Thee, O Lord; Holy, holy, holy, etc.), other parts, such as the Cherubic hymn and the Communion hymn, are properly reserved for the chanters.

Really? That may be the case in Byzantine tradition, but not so much in other Orthodox traditions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFswLtgG2zQ

I lack the knowledge to speak of what is correct or incorrect in the Greek or Arabic traditions, but I do know what is the tradition among at least the Russians, Ukrainians and other east/north Slavs. Again, a problem which can not be ignored when we speak of 'oneness' in North American Orthodoxy. We have to really work out a model which never existed in the old world in order for us to make this work here.
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2012, 07:48:39 PM »

Really? That may be the case in Byzantine tradition, but not so much in other Orthodox traditions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFswLtgG2zQ

I lack the knowledge to speak of what is correct or incorrect in the Greek or Arabic traditions, but I do know what is the tradition among at least the Russians, Ukrainians and other east/north Slavs. Again, a problem which can not be ignored when we speak of 'oneness' in North American Orthodoxy. We have to really work out a model which never existed in the old world in order for us to make this work here.

I mean historically. I was not referring to the modern practices of any particular local tradition. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, for example, when instructing the newly baptised on their active role in the Divine Liturgy says "you answer, 'We lift them up to the Lord", "you say, 'It is meet and right'", etc. However, "after this you hear the chanter inviting you with the sacred melody to the communion of the Holy Mysteries." The distinction he makes is obvious.

If you consider the fact that the vast majority of Vespers and Matins consists of variable sung material, which requires access to books that very few individuals could acquire for themselves today, let alone before the dawn of the printing press, only a relatively small part of any service would have involved congregational singing. Rather, the chanters would sing the verses, and the congregation would reply with short refrains. If you have a copy of the Old Orthodox Prayer Book, which reflects a more traditional practice than the one in use today, you'll notice how each verse of the Lord, I have cried at Vespers has a corresponding refrain to this effect. The way the prokeimena are sung also hearken back to this practice.

The prayers of the liturgy are not simply divided between priest and people, but between priests, deacons, readers, singers, and the congregation. If the people are capable of singing along with the chanters, that's wonderful, but there is certainly no traditional obligation to ensure that the congregation is able to sing along at all times. If the priest, for pastoral reasons, decides that this is beneficial and will keep people attentive, that is another matter.
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« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2012, 08:57:10 AM »

I love choral music and believe that it should be simple enough for the congregation to sing along. That said, I cannot stand overly complicated arrangements that are designed to show off the capabilities of the choir. And, if you are a good choir the temptation is surely there to select such a piece, which is fine for a concert but IMHO totally inappropriate for the Divine Liturgy.
But why the hard dichotomy? Who's to say that if it's "too hard for the congregation" it's automatically fit only for concerts?
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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2012, 09:54:03 AM »

I love choral music and believe that it should be simple enough for the congregation to sing along. That said, I cannot stand overly complicated arrangements that are designed to show off the capabilities of the choir. And, if you are a good choir the temptation is surely there to select such a piece, which is fine for a concert but IMHO totally inappropriate for the Divine Liturgy.
But why the hard dichotomy? Who's to say that if it's "too hard for the congregation" it's automatically fit only for concerts?

In the 'big' picture, I think that everyone who has 'chimed' in here has raised valid points. Starting with Peter's comment it is true that there are many beautiful and beloved choral pieces that are not suitable for congregational 'singing along.' For example, many of Chesnikov's compositions are evocative of a style better suited for congregational reflection and prayer rather than participation.

On the other hand, the week to week repetroire of most church choirs is such that the familiarity with the selections does lead many in a congregation to sing along, if in a 'sotto voce.'

And as Orthodox11 points out there are simply many parts of our services which require a chanter or 'cantor' to take the lead, reserving the repetitive parts to the larger congregation for the reasons he pointed out. While the roots of this derives out of necessity as literacy was not widespread among the faithful of any culture until the beginning of say, the 19th century or so, most 'modern' parishioners have neither the time nor the inclination to learn these tones given their sporadic attendance at these services.

This is as true in the Slavic tradition as in others. My original comments were really directed to liturgical responses - not those of say the Orthos or Vespers. In the Ukrainian or the Russian tradition one is more accustomed to hearing a harmonious choral of a few members using the Kievan Chant or the Znammeny for the irmosi. (for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LRdSVB5fW8  or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NMPK1BSnUI ) Truth be told, those chant melodies are oftentimes are easier to pick up than are the Byzantine ones or even the Carpatho-Russian chants and lend themselves to three or four part simple harmonies sung at at relatively quick pace. (For example here are the Carpatho-Russian Tone 5 vesperal tone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LRdSVB5fW8 , Tone 3:  http://metropolitancantorinstitute.org/recordings/DivineLiturgies/211SundayTone3Psalm140_LIHC.mp3 ,  Tone 6: http://metropolitancantorinstitute.org/recordings/DivineLiturgies/226SundayTone6Psalm140_LIHC.mp3  ,  One method that the Carpatho-Russian cantors and teachers used to teach the broader membership these tones was to adapt them to liturgical or para-liturgical hymns - hence the Otce Nas/Our Father may be heard in this Tone 5 or Tone 3 in Rusyn churches, the Meet it is in Truth/Das Ispolnatsja in  Tone 6 etc...) .

In the end it comes down to a matter or personal preference in many cases. As a general rule, a small choir with a non-professional director probably should keep the 'playbook' simple and leave the complex renditions to the larger churches or concert choirs which exist for special non-liturgical events in many regions.
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2012, 11:56:20 AM »

What's wrong with Italian music? Or Western music? Is there something specifically sacred in any kind of music or language? I know that Muslims think that Arabic is (because they believe the Quran was written by Allah). I also know that some Protestants consider the original King James Version to be sacred (I could never understand the reasoning). I am not aware any dogmatic pronouncement on the subject by the Orthodox, the clinging to Old Slavonic and Greek notwithstanding.

The issue is not whether a particular form of ecclesiastical music happens to be Italian or Western in origin. The issue is whether the particular form of Italian ecclesiastical music referred to is consistent with the basic principles governing traditional ecclesiastical music. Gregorian and Ambrosian chant are western, but they share their basic characteristics with Byzantine, Znamenny, Coptic, Syrian, Armenian, etc. chant forms, although these all have very different sounds, reflecting the cultures under which they developed.

So this has nothing to do with considering one language or culture holier than another, but is a question of whether certain forms of music - eastern and western alike - are suitable for Orthodox worship.
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« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2012, 11:58:59 AM »

What's wrong with Italian music? Or Western music? Is there something specifically sacred in any kind of music or language? I know that Muslims think that Arabic is (because they believe the Quran was written by Allah). I also know that some Protestants consider the original King James Version to be sacred (I could never understand the reasoning). I am not aware any dogmatic pronouncement on the subject by the Orthodox, the clinging to Old Slavonic and Greek notwithstanding.

The issue is not whether a particular form of ecclesiastical music happens to be Italian or Western in origin. The issue is whether the particular form of Italian ecclesiastical music referred to is consistent with the basic principles governing traditional ecclesiastical music. Gregorian and Ambrosian chant are western, but they share their basic characteristics with Byzantine, Znamenny, Coptic, Syrian, Armenian, etc. chant forms, although these all have very different sounds, reflecting the cultures under which they developed.

So this has nothing to do with considering one language or culture holier than another, but is a question of whether certain forms of music - eastern and western alike - are suitable for Orthodox worship.

Alas, we are at the point of divergence as to what is a BIG T Tradition and essential to the unity of the Faith and what is a little t tradition and essential to the pious beliefs of the faithful.  I suspect that this disagreement is not to be resolved easily.
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« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2012, 12:06:10 PM »

Alas, we are at the point of divergence as to what is a BIG T Tradition and essential to the unity of the Faith and what is a little t tradition and essential to the pious beliefs of the faithful.  I suspect that this disagreement is not to be resolved easily.

It's a can of worms I have no desire to open in this thread. I merely wished to point out that the issue is not one of favouring one cultural expression above another, but of whether ecclesiastical music should follow a particular set of guiding principles. I think the fact that the early liturgical music of both East and West, while having distinct sounds, followed the same set of guiding principles is enough to put to rest any mistaken notions that this is a question of supposed cultural inferiority/superiority.
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« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2012, 12:21:01 PM »

Alas, we are at the point of divergence as to what is a BIG T Tradition and essential to the unity of the Faith and what is a little t tradition and essential to the pious beliefs of the faithful.  I suspect that this disagreement is not to be resolved easily.

It's a can of worms I have no desire to open in this thread. I merely wished to point out that the issue is not one of favouring one cultural expression above another, but of whether ecclesiastical music should follow a particular set of guiding principles. I think the fact that the early liturgical music of both East and West, while having distinct sounds, followed the same set of guiding principles is enough to put to rest any mistaken notions that this is a question of supposed cultural inferiority/superiority.

I am not suggesting that, merely positing the argument that reasonable men and women may diverge in opinion as to what constitutes proper development of music over time - not doctrine. I, for one, would not argue that one necessarily follows from the other. Regards!
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« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2012, 12:46:03 PM »

I love choral music and believe that it should be simple enough for the congregation to sing along. That said, I cannot stand overly complicated arrangements that are designed to show off the capabilities of the choir. And, if you are a good choir the temptation is surely there to select such a piece, which is fine for a concert but IMHO totally inappropriate for the Divine Liturgy.
But why the hard dichotomy? Who's to say that if it's "too hard for the congregation" it's automatically fit only for concerts?

I would like to add to Podkarpatska's excellent response to your question. I am approaching this from the perspective of somebody who has chanted and also been part of the choir in Orthodox churches. You are essentially correct; there cannot be a hard dichotomy as proven by Handel's Messiah. It is the sort of complicated concert piece that I am talking about; however, because so many folks have sung it (in and out of church), it has a potential to also be suitable for congregational singing (amongst the right milieu of course). Now, to a professional singer, the definition of complexity is obviously different than that of simple folks like me. So, if a congregation is chuck full of professional singers, hardly any composition would be overly complicated, even if worshiping amongst such a congregation would deprive me of the opportunity to do my part of the "common work" in even such a thing as an "Kyrie eleison" if for example the selection is from Mozart's Requiem.
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« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2012, 03:39:38 PM »

I am not suggesting that

I know, I just wanted to clarify what I meant in my response to Second Chance.

Quote
merely positing the argument that reasonable men and women may diverge in opinion as to what constitutes proper development of music over time - not doctrine.

I agree with you  Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2012, 09:38:52 PM »


The prayers of the liturgy are not simply divided between priest and people, but between priests, deacons, readers, singers, and the congregation. If the people are capable of singing along with the chanters, that's wonderful, but there is certainly no traditional obligation to ensure that the congregation is able to sing along at all times. If the priest, for pastoral reasons, decides that this is beneficial and will keep people attentive, that is another matter.

My sentiments exactly. Thanks.
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« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2012, 11:30:30 PM »

whew, it seems that we are finally finding common ground... Wink  angel
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« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2012, 10:40:19 AM »

I prefer it if the people can (and do) sing along as much as possible so that all voices may be lifted up to God.  Overly complex choral arrangements I find to be largely useless as the congregation cannot sing along with it and it does not fit well with my personal tastes in music - note that this is my opinion and NOT something that I believe on a theological level.  If the choir is going to sing something that I cannot keep up with or understand then I will usually just say the Jesus Prayer silently or under my breath.  In the end, so long as God is glorified, that's all that really matters.

On a side note, being overly flashy can lead to pride and ostentation.  Christ warned us about this, about seeking the praise of men.  It is definitely something to keep in mind.  I don't find this to be a reason to not sing beautifully, it's just that the choir needs to be careful to avoid temptation and ensure that it is being done for the glorification of God and not of themselves.  If you can sing well then by all means use this gift!  Let your talent multiply for the Lord.  But also keep an eye out for the adversary.


One last point that I found highly ironic...last night we had a Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.  As we were finishing up the post-Communion prayers I heard the choir downstairs having their Wednesday night practice.  Seems kind of a waste to have a practice session when there was a perfectly good Liturgy to practice at.  (I wonder if anyone asked the Priest why he was late!   Cheesy)
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« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2012, 10:43:29 AM »

I prefer it if the people can (and do) sing along as much as possible so that all voices may be lifted up to God.  Overly complex choral arrangements I find to be largely useless as the congregation cannot sing along with it and it does not fit well with my personal tastes in music - note that this is my opinion and NOT something that I believe on a theological level.  If the choir is going to sing something that I cannot keep up with or understand then I will usually just say the Jesus Prayer silently or under my breath.  In the end, so long as God is glorified, that's all that really matters.

On a side note, being overly flashy can lead to pride and ostentation.  Christ warned us about this, about seeking the praise of men.  It is definitely something to keep in mind.  I don't find this to be a reason to not sing beautifully, it's just that the choir needs to be careful to avoid temptation and ensure that it is being done for the glorification of God and not of themselves.  If you can sing well then by all means use this gift!  Let your talent multiply for the Lord.  But also keep an eye out for the adversary.


One last point that I found highly ironic...last night we had a Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.  As we were finishing up the post-Communion prayers I heard the choir downstairs having their Wednesday night practice.  Seems kind of a waste to have a practice session when there was a perfectly good Liturgy to practice at.  (I wonder if anyone asked the Priest why he was late!   Cheesy)

You nailed that comment! The pastor should have grabbed the choir director by the neck and firmly said - Later! Liturgy first!
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« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2012, 12:22:49 PM »

I prefer it if the people can (and do) sing along as much as possible so that all voices may be lifted up to God.  Overly complex choral arrangements I find to be largely useless as the congregation cannot sing along with it and it does not fit well with my personal tastes in music - note that this is my opinion and NOT something that I believe on a theological level.  If the choir is going to sing something that I cannot keep up with or understand then I will usually just say the Jesus Prayer silently or under my breath.  In the end, so long as God is glorified, that's all that really matters.

On a side note, being overly flashy can lead to pride and ostentation.  Christ warned us about this, about seeking the praise of men.  It is definitely something to keep in mind.  I don't find this to be a reason to not sing beautifully, it's just that the choir needs to be careful to avoid temptation and ensure that it is being done for the glorification of God and not of themselves.  If you can sing well then by all means use this gift!  Let your talent multiply for the Lord.  But also keep an eye out for the adversary.


One last point that I found highly ironic...last night we had a Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.  As we were finishing up the post-Communion prayers I heard the choir downstairs having their Wednesday night practice.  Seems kind of a waste to have a practice session when there was a perfectly good Liturgy to practice at.  (I wonder if anyone asked the Priest why he was late!   Cheesy)

You nailed that comment! The pastor should have grabbed the choir director by the neck and firmly said - Later! Liturgy first!

wow, you mean the choir missed the liturgy entirely? Shocked
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« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2012, 01:18:42 PM »

I prefer it if the people can (and do) sing along as much as possible so that all voices may be lifted up to God.  Overly complex choral arrangements I find to be largely useless as the congregation cannot sing along with it and it does not fit well with my personal tastes in music - note that this is my opinion and NOT something that I believe on a theological level.  If the choir is going to sing something that I cannot keep up with or understand then I will usually just say the Jesus Prayer silently or under my breath.  In the end, so long as God is glorified, that's all that really matters.

On a side note, being overly flashy can lead to pride and ostentation.  Christ warned us about this, about seeking the praise of men.  It is definitely something to keep in mind.  I don't find this to be a reason to not sing beautifully, it's just that the choir needs to be careful to avoid temptation and ensure that it is being done for the glorification of God and not of themselves.  If you can sing well then by all means use this gift!  Let your talent multiply for the Lord.  But also keep an eye out for the adversary.


One last point that I found highly ironic...last night we had a Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.  As we were finishing up the post-Communion prayers I heard the choir downstairs having their Wednesday night practice.  Seems kind of a waste to have a practice session when there was a perfectly good Liturgy to practice at.  (I wonder if anyone asked the Priest why he was late!   Cheesy)

You nailed that comment! The pastor should have grabbed the choir director by the neck and firmly said - Later! Liturgy first!

wow, you mean the choir missed the liturgy entirely? Shocked

Well, one of them came...
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« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2012, 08:45:29 PM »

I prefer it if the people can (and do) sing along as much as possible so that all voices may be lifted up to God.  Overly complex choral arrangements I find to be largely useless as the congregation cannot sing along with it and it does not fit well with my personal tastes in music - note that this is my opinion and NOT something that I believe on a theological level.  If the choir is going to sing something that I cannot keep up with or understand then I will usually just say the Jesus Prayer silently or under my breath.  In the end, so long as God is glorified, that's all that really matters.

On a side note, being overly flashy can lead to pride and ostentation.  Christ warned us about this, about seeking the praise of men.  It is definitely something to keep in mind.  I don't find this to be a reason to not sing beautifully, it's just that the choir needs to be careful to avoid temptation and ensure that it is being done for the glorification of God and not of themselves.  If you can sing well then by all means use this gift!  Let your talent multiply for the Lord.  But also keep an eye out for the adversary.


One last point that I found highly ironic...last night we had a Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.  As we were finishing up the post-Communion prayers I heard the choir downstairs having their Wednesday night practice.  Seems kind of a waste to have a practice session when there was a perfectly good Liturgy to practice at.  (I wonder if anyone asked the Priest why he was late!   Cheesy)

You nailed that comment! The pastor should have grabbed the choir director by the neck and firmly said - Later! Liturgy first!

wow, you mean the choir missed the liturgy entirely? Shocked
The liturgy could have used a good choir.
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« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2012, 08:46:40 PM »

I prefer it if the people can (and do) sing along as much as possible so that all voices may be lifted up to God.
Honestly, there are some voices that are better off NOT being lifted up to God. Tongue
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« Reply #30 on: April 15, 2012, 09:28:32 PM »

Every Christian musical tradition is beautiful in its own way. From simple to complex, it all has a place at the table. Congregational singing, in my opinion, is not an absolute necessity.

For my part, the thing I dislike is mixing very different traditions in the same service. Singing an elaborate Russian Cherubic Hymn and following it with a litany in Byzantine tone 5 is just bizarre to me. Both are wonderful in their own context, but church music should not be a buffet of randomly chosen pieces.

No right-thinking Catholic choir would mix a bit of the Missa de Angelis, a little Jesu Redemptor, and maybe a few modern praise songs. And those are all from the same musical tradition, to say nothing of entirely different musical cultures.
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« Reply #31 on: April 15, 2012, 09:48:28 PM »

^Totally agree. The Antiochian Church mixes and matches so many disparate traditions that the liturgy becomes an amorphous hodgepodge of Russian, Greek, Arab, Serb, American, Romanian traditions.  It's senseless. If you use Russian music, use it consistently; if you use Byzantine chant, use that consistently.
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« Reply #32 on: April 15, 2012, 09:49:57 PM »

For my part, the thing I dislike is mixing very different traditions in the same service. Singing an elaborate Russian Cherubic Hymn and following it with a litany in Byzantine tone 5 is just bizarre to me. Both are wonderful in their own context, but church music should not be a buffet of randomly chosen pieces.

I dunno, I kind of liked it when our choir sang the Our Father and God is With Us according to what I'm pretty sure is some sort of Russian polyphony (usually they sing Byzantine chant). Though I'd prefer everything be in Russian-style polyphony, that's probably not gonna happen at an Antiochian parish.

Quote
No right-thinking Catholic choir would mix a bit of the Missa de Angelis, a little Jesu Redemptor, and maybe a few modern praise songs. And those are all from the same musical tradition, to say nothing of entirely different musical cultures.

That's pretty much what the choir at my parents' RC parish did.
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« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2012, 09:51:29 PM »

Quick question for you liturgical music buffs: is it considered chant when it's sung by a choir?
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« Reply #34 on: April 15, 2012, 10:13:14 PM »

Quick question for you liturgical music buffs: is it considered chant when it's sung by a choir?

Chant refers to the type of singing style, not to the number of singers performing it.
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« Reply #35 on: April 16, 2012, 10:29:27 AM »

^Totally agree. The Antiochian Church mixes and matches so many disparate traditions that the liturgy becomes an amorphous hodgepodge of Russian, Greek, Arab, Serb, American, Romanian traditions.  It's senseless. If you use Russian music, use it consistently; if you use Byzantine chant, use that consistently.
This is what I'm trying to get my priest to understand. He simply likes certain Russian melodies, so insists that we use those - even though we don't have a choir - just three male chanters! Rather difficult to do four-part harmony Smiley. I finally took a stand and said, "I've been working as hard as possible at Byzantine chant. I don't have the time to add Russian styles." I sit (stand?) those out and let the other two chanters (or one when we're not all there) handle it. Those two feel exactly as I do, but haven't had the nerve to say so to our priest.
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« Reply #36 on: April 16, 2012, 01:01:42 PM »

^Totally agree. The Antiochian Church mixes and matches so many disparate traditions that the liturgy becomes an amorphous hodgepodge of Russian, Greek, Arab, Serb, American, Romanian traditions.  It's senseless. If you use Russian music, use it consistently; if you use Byzantine chant, use that consistently.

I don't have any experience with the Antiochians other that my son and his wife attended a small, very Arab traditional, parish in upstate NY for a number of years while they lived there. The people were wonderful and the music was all chanted Byzantine style but I understand that what you are talking about is true in larger more non-Arab dominated parishes.

Most of us Slavs stick to Slavic stuff - mixing Slavic chant with most Slavic choral usually doesn't sound strange to us but i can see where it might to others.

I think that there are problems in selecting arrangements and chant styles in retirement areas where you may have a parish of many mixed, cradle baby-boomers who have aged out and moved there. Don't have any answers for that one as it is 'complicated.' (My favorite word of the month!)
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« Reply #37 on: April 16, 2012, 02:05:11 PM »

Folks are confusing melody with type of singing. For example, in my OCA parish, we do sing a number of hymns in four-part harmony even though the melodies are from Byzantine chanting. The Holy Friday Lamentations/Praises immediately come to mind. Also, the refrains of the First and Second Antiphons ("Through the prayers of the Theotokos" and "Save us who sing to Thee") in major Feast Days are likewise sung in four part harmony but are indeed of Byzantine origin. But, we don't have to search for special occasions to see this happen, the usual Sunday DL Theotokion is also based on a Byzantine chant.  In execution, the melodies are  simply sung in four-part harmony. Sure, the scales are different and thus the notes are somewhat different; however, the melody is still there.

I think the problem is "newness" of melody for some folks, who will think it strange if they hear the melody or even the arrangement for the first time. These kinds of folks may also think that a there is a world of difference between fried and roast chicken; yes, they are different but they are both chicken! Lighten up and enjoy.
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« Reply #38 on: April 16, 2012, 02:53:29 PM »

^Totally agree. The Antiochian Church mixes and matches so many disparate traditions that the liturgy becomes an amorphous hodgepodge of Russian, Greek, Arab, Serb, American, Romanian traditions.  It's senseless. If you use Russian music, use it consistently; if you use Byzantine chant, use that consistently.

My Lebanese friends refer to this kind of liturgical hodgepodge as Haraam Chant.  Cheesy
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« Reply #39 on: April 16, 2012, 03:13:54 PM »

^Totally agree. The Antiochian Church mixes and matches so many disparate traditions that the liturgy becomes an amorphous hodgepodge of Russian, Greek, Arab, Serb, American, Romanian traditions.  It's senseless. If you use Russian music, use it consistently; if you use Byzantine chant, use that consistently.

i love variety! If it sounds good, go for it.
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« Reply #40 on: April 16, 2012, 03:23:08 PM »

I like Russian usage of Byzantine melodies most. I dislike most Russian opera-like tunes.
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« Reply #41 on: April 16, 2012, 05:24:41 PM »

I like Russian usage of Byzantine melodies most. I dislike most Russian opera-like tunes.

Exactly! For example, I love the youth choir of st. John Damascene from Russia. Sometimes when I hear Russian opera-like tunes I feel as I was on a concert. Generally, I'm for variety, but with dominance of melodies based on the byzantine chant (Serbian, antiochian, Romanian etc.)
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« Reply #42 on: April 16, 2012, 10:58:27 PM »

^Totally agree. The Antiochian Church mixes and matches so many disparate traditions that the liturgy becomes an amorphous hodgepodge of Russian, Greek, Arab, Serb, American, Romanian traditions.  It's senseless. If you use Russian music, use it consistently; if you use Byzantine chant, use that consistently.

i love variety! If it sounds good, go for it.

One's variety is another's chaos.
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