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.