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walter1234
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« on: October 07, 2012, 01:35:13 PM »

Why do Orthodox Christians not to use musical instruments when they worship the Lord?
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2012, 01:43:51 PM »

The human voice was the first musical instrument. It was made by God. Every other one was developed by humans, after that. Even drumming your hands on a rock. So, the singing voice is still the primary instrument in church.
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2012, 03:16:38 PM »

In the Coptic Orthodox Church, we will occasionally use the cymbal and/or the triangle in order to mark the rhythm of the chant, as Coptic chant is very precisely rhythmically structured for all its famous melisma. The Ethiopians use the sistrum, the prayer staff, and the drum similarly. As the guide explains, these are not really "instruments" proper (in the sense of being used for musical performance), but have deep spiritual significance in themselves, and as such are seen as an integral part of the worship in themselves.

This is, I suppose, one difference between the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox, but it is important anyway to disentangle it a bit, because Westerners will often look to Oriental use of non-vocal accompaniment as "proof" that this diversity somehow sanctions the use of guitars, organs, or other melody-producing instruments in worship, when that is not quite the case. Of course, things are not as simple as binary opposition between those who would use instruments and those who would not, as we also have among us the Armenians who have adopted the organ in their liturgies (and the Greeks, if they are honest with themselves, have gone through periodic romances with the organ as well, though I'm glad to see that it seems to be dying out nowadays). Without judging the faith of the Armenians on that account, I do notice that places where Armenian tradition is taught stick to strictly vocal music. The same can be said about the Indian Syrians, who have otherwise sometimes adopted instruments into their liturgy, for reasons I can't begin to understand or articulate.

So I think it is fair to say, whether talking about the Byzantines or the non-Byzantines, that the standard for Orthodox worship is unaccompanied chant, essentially for the reason previously stated by Biro.
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2012, 03:39:51 PM »

In the Coptic Orthodox Church, we will occasionally use the cymbal and/or the triangle in order to mark the rhythm of the chant, as Coptic chant is very precisely rhythmically structured for all its famous melisma. The Ethiopians use the sistrum, the prayer staff, and the drum similarly. As the guide explains, these are not really "instruments" proper (in the sense of being used for musical performance), but have deep spiritual significance in themselves, and as such are seen as an integral part of the worship in themselves.

This is, I suppose, one difference between the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox, but it is important anyway to disentangle it a bit, because Westerners will often look to Oriental use of non-vocal accompaniment as "proof" that this diversity somehow sanctions the use of guitars, organs, or other melody-producing instruments in worship, when that is not quite the case. Of course, things are not as simple as binary opposition between those who would use instruments and those who would not, as we also have among us the Armenians who have adopted the organ in their liturgies (and the Greeks, if they are honest with themselves, have gone through periodic romances with the organ as well, though I'm glad to see that it seems to be dying out nowadays). Without judging the faith of the Armenians on that account, I do notice that places where Armenian tradition is taught stick to strictly vocal music. The same can be said about the Indian Syrians, who have otherwise sometimes adopted instruments into their liturgy, for reasons I can't begin to understand or articulate.

So I think it is fair to say, whether talking about the Byzantines or the non-Byzantines, that the standard for Orthodox worship is unaccompanied chant, essentially for the reason previously stated by Biro.

While I agree with you that the use of percussion is something very different to the use of melodic instruments, it would be interesting to see how early sources describe the use of the cymbal in worship, particularly before and after the Chalcedonian schism. Clement of Alexandria speaks very unfavourably of the "Egyptian drum" and the "Arabian cymbal", and absolutely rejects its use among Christians. I have also heard many a Copt tell me that they should only be employed during the Verses of the Cymbals, and then only in a very simple fashion, and that the current practice of frequent use and rather fancy rhythms is inappropriate. I mention the Chalcedonian schism particularly since the liturgical character of the non-Chalcedonian Alexandrian Church became increasingly Coptic, both linguistic and otherwise, following 451. Perhaps the cymbal, which is still used in worship by Egyptian Sufis in pretty much the same way as it is used in the Divine Liturgy, was a localised rural practice in places like Upper Egypt, where the Hellenism of Alexandria was much less influential, which then gained general acceptance accross the Egyptian Church? St. Yared then came a century or so later and implemented his musical reforms in Ethiopia, which included the use of percussion, perhaps taking a lead from his mother church to the north.

Am I correct in saying that the Ethiopians only use percussion during certain services like Matins, but never during the Divine Liturgy?
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2012, 03:55:12 PM »

Because it's a silly Protestant innovation you sillyl goose you  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2012, 04:00:01 PM »

Where does Psalm 32 (33) fit into all of this?  David used musical instruments, especially the harp. . . the ten string lyre. . . ?
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 04:06:06 PM »

Where does Psalm 32 (33) fit into all of this?  David used musical instruments, especially the harp. . . the ten string lyre. . . ?
According to St. John Chrysostom in his Exposition on the Psalms  :

"David formerly sang songs, also today we sing hymns. He had a lyre with lifeless strings, the church has a lyre with living strings. Our tongues are the strings of the lyre with a different tone indeed but much more in accordance with piety. Here there is no need for the cithara, or for stretched strings, or for the plectrum, or for art, or for any instrument; but, if you like, you may yourself become a cithara, mortifying the members of the flesh and making a full harmony of mind and body. For when the flesh no longer lusts against the Spirit, but has submitted to its orders and has been led at length into the best and most admirable path, then will you create a spiritual melody."
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2012, 04:07:57 PM »

As biro wrote, the human voice is used during chanting and is usually unaccompanied by human-made instruments (a capella).  

However, there are a few exceptions in many different churches.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, some of the Western-Rite Orthodox churches use organs. A few Syro-Byzantine Orthodox Churches occasionally use traditional Arabic instruments but that is a very rare occasion. In the Albanian Orthodox Church, organs are used along side Byzantine Chant, this is a historical practice which was originally used to help keep the chanter in tune. A more controversial subject, In many North American, a few Greek Orthodox parishes use organs for the same reason that the Albanians use it.

In the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox sometimes use traditional Arabic and Syriac instrument in their worship. The Armenian Orthodox does officially use the organ in their chanting tradition but at certain parts of the liturgy the organ is silenced. The Coptic Orthodox Church uses the cymbals and the triangle during chanting. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church uses the sistrum and drums in their worship.    
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2012, 04:09:19 PM »

Where does Psalm 32 (33) fit into all of this?  David used musical instruments, especially the harp. . . the ten string lyre. . . ?

The Fathers, universally to my knowledge, give one of two explanations (or both, since the two are by no means mutually exclusive): 1. The musical instruments described are symbols (5 stringed harp represents the five senses with which to praise God, etc.) and 2. God allowed musical instruments in the Old Testament as a condescension to the carnal minds of the Jews, in accordance with the limited revelation given to them (similar to what Christ says about divorce being permitted under Mosaic Law). For Christians, who have been called to greater heights following the incarnation, such carnal elements in worship should be done away with.
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« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2012, 04:10:47 PM »

In the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox sometimes use traditional Arabic and Syriac instrument in their worship.

Do they? I have only ever heard the organ being used, and that was something not permitted by the Holy Synod of the Syriac Church until 1974 or thereabouts.
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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2012, 05:27:42 PM »

While I agree with you that the use of percussion is something very different to the use of melodic instruments, it would be interesting to see how early sources describe the use of the cymbal in worship, particularly before and after the Chalcedonian schism. Clement of Alexandria speaks very unfavourably of the "Egyptian drum" and the "Arabian cymbal", and absolutely rejects its use among Christians.


Yes, I have read this before. The response I have given is essentially the response I received when I brought it up, to the best of my recollection: First and foremost, these "instruments" are not treated as instruments at all, but as time-keepers. Furthermore, looking at the context of the objection, it seems that St. Clement's objection to the use of such is due to their association with practices and attitudes not befitting Christians, as he wrote: "In reality, man is an instrument arc for peace, but these other things, if anyone concerns himself overmuch with them, become instruments of conflict, for inflame the passions. The Etruscans, for example, use the trumpet for war; the Arcadians, the horn; the Sicels, the flute; the Cretans, the lyre; the Lacedemonians, the pipe; the Thracians, the bugle; the Egyptians, the drum; and the Arabs, the cymbal" (source). It strikes me that the opposition here is two-fold: (1) that anyone should concern himself "overmuch" with instruments, and (2), that they be "instruments of conflict" for "inflam[ing] the passions". On these counts, I don't think you would find anyone in the Coptic Orthodox Church who would disagree with the great saint.

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I have also heard many a Copt tell me that they should only be employed during the Verses of the Cymbals, and then only in a very simple fashion, and that the current practice of frequent use and rather fancy rhythms is inappropriate.


I agree with this view without hesitation, and while I couldn't find a video of it, the use of the cymbal in the church that I attend is in a simple fashion, and anyway very sparingly used in the first place. Also, the monastic recordings I have found from the Monastery of St. Macarius in Scetis and elsewhere are similar: one cymbal, a steady, not flashy rhythm, etc. I do not go in for the bigger, more extravagant displays such as you can find of the well-attended annual Christmas liturgy at the Cathedral, which has all the finery of a state function and is, if I may be so blunt, as much a barometer of Church-state relations in Egypt as an actual liturgy. But that's me, and who am I to tell others who are much more learned than I what is right...
 
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I mention the Chalcedonian schism particularly since the liturgical character of the non-Chalcedonian Alexandrian Church became increasingly Coptic, both linguistic and otherwise, following 451. Perhaps the cymbal, which is still used in worship by Egyptian Sufis in pretty much the same way as it is used in the Divine Liturgy, was a localised rural practice in places like Upper Egypt, where the Hellenism of Alexandria was much less influential, which then gained general acceptance accross the Egyptian Church?


Perhaps. Certainly the process accelerated after Chalcedon, but also we have examples such as St. Shenouda the Archimandrite of the White monastery, who succeeded his uncle St. Pigol as the abbot of that monastery c. 385 AD, well before Chalcedon, and is often seen as the major figure to have given a uniquely Coptic character to Egyptian Christianity by consciously composing his works in Coptic rather than Greek as earlier Coptic fathers had. I don't see anything particularly "Egyptian" about the cymbal anyway. St. Clement, as quoted above, attributes the cymbal to the Arabs in an era long before "Egyptian" and "Arab" became conflated thanks to the machinations of Nasser and the like. Blah. Anyway, it would be interesting to contrast the practices of the Greeks in Egypt in the time before Chalcedon and in its immediate aftermath, prior to their eventual Byzantinization, if it were possible. I have already found evidence that our saints so reviled now such as St. Dioscorus were actually commemorated for some time after the schism by those of the Chalcedonian communion in Egypt, and it wasn't actually until the time of Gainas in 536 AD that the separation was indisputably final, as it was in that year that Emperor Justinian reconsidered his previous recognition of Theodosius I, exiling him and installing a Chalcedonian in his place (a move which the Copts did not accept, of course).

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St. Yared then came a century or so later and implemented his musical reforms in Ethiopia, which included the use of percussion, perhaps taking a lead from his mother church to the north.

Perhaps. I don't know much about that.

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Am I correct in saying that the Ethiopians only use percussion during certain services like Matins, but never during the Divine Liturgy?

I am not sure. I only have two liturgical recordings of the Ethiopian church, neither of which are complete. From what I remember, one had the staff and sistrum, but neither had the drum. It's best to ask an Ethiopian for clarification.

RE: Syriac Orthodox -- I have only heard of the organ being used, and even then only recently (and it seems rather rare, at that). You can find videos on YT with the organ, but generally speaking anything with the 'ud or the like is going to be paraliturgical at best. Perhaps a Christmas concert or something. I've seen a lot of things on Suryoyo SAT and the like that could be confused for liturgical hymns but aren't. The situation is perhaps confused by throwing the Indian Syriacs into the mix, who do use instruments in their liturgies sometimes. As I wrote before, I don't personally get it, but then I'm not Indian. Lips Sealed
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« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2012, 05:46:54 PM »

In the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox sometimes use traditional Arabic and Syriac instrument in their worship.

Do they? I have only ever heard the organ being used, and that was something not permitted by the Holy Synod of the Syriac Church until 1974 or thereabouts.

Many of the Syriac/Assyrian Churches in Western countries sometimes use the organs for the churches that were bought from Protestants or Catholics. But in their home countries, they sometimes use traditional instruments.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRhb56R_4aE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Cxdeci_Do&feature=related

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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2012, 05:51:21 PM »

As I wrote before, I don't personally get it, but then I'm not Indian. Lips Sealed

Almost every local church, be it EO or OO, has adopted practices which are less than perfect, either through ignorance or compulsion. I think it's perfectly acceptable to call a spade a spade and point out what is and isn't acceptable in the context of Orthodox Tradition. To say, for example, that using a keyboard in the divine Liturgy is objectively wrong neither calls into question the piety or sincerity of those who use them, nor does it denigrate the cultural context (whether local custom or foreign import) in which such practices arose.
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2012, 05:53:50 PM »

Many of the Syriac/Assyrian Churches in Western countries sometimes use the organs for the churches that were bought from Protestants or Catholics. But in their home countries, they sometimes use traditional instruments.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRhb56R_4aE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Cxdeci_Do&feature=related

But these are just recordings of hymns accompanied by music. You'll find Fairouz and other Orthodox artists singing Byzantine hymns with similar accompaniment. Do you have any evidence that such instruments are actually used during church services?
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2012, 05:58:08 PM »

Am I correct in saying that the Ethiopians only use percussion during certain services like Matins, but never during the Divine Liturgy?

On Sundays, the percussion is used during Matins and only during certain parts of the liturgy but never during the anaphora, and the instruments are fully used in the Mezmur Choir-led Service that immoderately follows the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. Im not Ethiopian Orthodox so you might also want to ask someone who is.    
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« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2012, 06:03:28 PM »

Where does Psalm 32 (33) fit into all of this?  David used musical instruments, especially the harp. . . the ten string lyre. . . ?

The Fathers, universally to my knowledge, give one of two explanations (or both, since the two are by no means mutually exclusive): 1. The musical instruments described are symbols (5 stringed harp represents the five senses with which to praise God, etc.) and 2. God allowed musical instruments in the Old Testament as a condescension to the carnal minds of the Jews, in accordance with the limited revelation given to them (similar to what Christ says about divorce being permitted under Mosaic Law). For Christians, who have been called to greater heights following the incarnation, such carnal elements in worship should be done away with.

Where do we cross the lines on "carnal minds"?  I mean, some Christians will use this argument to avoid use of icons.
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« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2012, 06:06:49 PM »

As I wrote before, I don't personally get it, but then I'm not Indian. Lips Sealed

Almost every local church, be it EO or OO, has adopted practices which are less than perfect, either through ignorance or compulsion. I think it's perfectly acceptable to call a spade a spade and point out what is and isn't acceptable in the context of Orthodox Tradition. To say, for example, that using a keyboard in the divine Liturgy is objectively wrong neither calls into question the piety or sincerity of those who use them, nor does it denigrate the cultural context (whether local custom or foreign import) in which such practices arose.

I agree. I meant that more that there are Indians among us who would have their own take on the matter, so I would default to them to explain how this came about and what they think about it.
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« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2012, 06:12:48 PM »

Where do we cross the lines on "carnal minds"?  I mean, some Christians will use this argument to avoid use of icons.

I don't know where the lines are drawn, but the use of melodic instruments certainly crosses that line according to patristic understanding.
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« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2012, 06:23:28 PM »

Many of the Syriac/Assyrian Churches in Western countries sometimes use the organs for the churches that were bought from Protestants or Catholics. But in their home countries, they sometimes use traditional instruments.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRhb56R_4aE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Cxdeci_Do&feature=related

But these are just recordings of hymns accompanied by music. You'll find Fairouz and other Orthodox artists singing Byzantine hymns with similar accompaniment. Do you have any evidence that such instruments are actually used during church services?

I'm searching youtube for the video I watched, it was an Antiochian Orthodox Good Friday service and they were using traditional Arabic instruments. At the Syriac vespers that I went to at one church, they were using a ney flute and an Arabic Qanun/Dulcimer.  
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« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2012, 06:36:02 PM »

For anyone here is interested, here is an archive of recorded Syriac Orthodox liturgies, some dating back several decades (e.g., though there's no date for his liturgy, Fr. Jalil Maiilo reposed in 1993, so it's at least ~20 years old, and probably much older). While I have not listened to all of them in full, what I have sampled of all of them shows at most only the organ, never any traditional instrument. Take that as you will.

It might interest some to note, given the nature of this discussion, that Fr. Jalil was actually a very accomplished folk singer from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s (before his ordination), and his folk songs are very well-remembered. His biography, and samples of his secular work, are found here. I can think of several other people from Syriac churches (not always Orthodox) who have performed both secular and religious/liturgical work, which is interesting in that I can't think of any from the Coptic Church. Perhaps the Syriacs are a bit more open-minded than the rest of us. Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2012, 06:38:21 PM »

Where does Psalm 32 (33) fit into all of this?  David used musical instruments, especially the harp. . . the ten string lyre. . . ?

The Fathers, universally to my knowledge, give one of two explanations (or both, since the two are by no means mutually exclusive): 1. The musical instruments described are symbols (5 stringed harp represents the five senses with which to praise God, etc.) and 2. God allowed musical instruments in the Old Testament as a condescension to the carnal minds of the Jews, in accordance with the limited revelation given to them (similar to what Christ says about divorce being permitted under Mosaic Law). For Christians, who have been called to greater heights following the incarnation, such carnal elements in worship should be done away with.

the Incarnation is the center and the reason for the usage of all instruments  the human and the work of the human for the Glory of God. the Fathers  that spoke against instruments spoke in such a way because they guarded against the pagan worship and the Judisers. however if taken out of their context, their arguments can be used to argue against icons, incense, vestments etc.. that came over from the Temple worship. in Revelation we see incense being used in the heavenly worship, we see instruments such as harps and trumpets being used in the heavenly Liturgy. even before that we see our Lord and his apostles sung the Psalms, not in the Byzantine tradition but in the Jewish one, same with Sts. Paul and Silas sung the hymns. the continuation of the temple worship we see in the Orthodox Liturgy is no accident nor is it contrary to the Incarnational Theology that is the central reason for its existence.

if we are to say that those things need to be do away with and especially for those reasons, we can also argue, our prayers are incense to him, therefore we do not need the physical incense, or that Christ is our vestment of righteousness, we do not need any Liturgical garments, etc etc. we will end up separating the created world from the Salvation and Regeneration given to it In Christ. the Entire Creation is called into the Worship of the Creator in Christ who became Fully Man, the entire Universe is Transfigured through Christ. the flutes, the incense, the cymbal, the icons, everything else man the cosmic priest raises up in thanksgiving to the Creator is ever more made perfect because of Christ's Incarnation.

so If we say the Incarnation is the Center of our Theology of Worship then..... such arguments.... ehm....
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« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2012, 06:43:14 PM »

Anyway, it would be interesting to contrast the practices of the Greeks in Egypt in the time before Chalcedon and in its immediate aftermath, prior to their eventual Byzantinization, if it were possible.

It would be a very interesting study, though I'm not sure how easily one could separate the practices of Copts and Greeks pre-Chalcedon considering that Greek was the predominant liturgical language of both. From what I understand, sources are sparse, and I'm not sure how easily you could identify a particular practice as belonging to Greeks or Copts.

As for post-Chalcedon, I would assume Greek usage pre-Byzantinization would be more conservative in that the Greek populations were concentrated in the Hellenic cities, such as Alexandria and Antioch, which were also the great ecclesiastical and liturgical centres. Whether you have St. John Chrysostom speaking in Antioch, St. Augustine in Hippo, the Cappadocians in Asia Minor, etc. mention of liturgical aberrations among the rural population, whether in the form of outright condemnation or tolerant condescension, is a pretty much universal feature. Thus, to the extent that Greek practice is more likely to reflect that of the cities - and thus what the bishops considered "correct" - a study of the Alexandrian and Antiochian rites as they existed among the Chalcedonians pre-Byzantinization would be very helpful in understanding the development also of non-Chalcedonian liturgical practices.
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« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2012, 06:47:52 PM »

The de facto ban on musical instruments, as far as I can tell, has not to do with instruments being "carnal." The explanations I have seen talk more about the human voice being made a new psaltery or cithara. Perhaps this could be tied to the Incarnation and the renewal of human nature.

In any case I generally prefer a cappella worship. I very much enjoy the Ethiopian style worship songs and mezmurs, but I think if musical instruments were allowed in, say, American Orthodox churches, the results would be less pleasing.
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« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2012, 06:54:06 PM »


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« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2012, 06:54:13 PM »

perhaps st. Augustine explains  best the real reason behind the opposition of things that resemble Temple Worship, and also Pagan temple worship and the Theater.

ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO: “Musical instruments were not used. The pipe, tabret, and harp here associate so intimately with the sensual heathen cults, as well as with the wild revelries and shameless performances of the degenerate theater and circus, it is easy to understand the prejudices against their use in the worship.” (Augustine 354 A.D., describing the singing at Alexandria under Athanasius.)

even Aquinas writes ..ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: “Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.” (Thomas Aquinas, Bingham’s Antiquities, Vol. 3, page 137)

so while it is understandable why the early church felt the need to stay clear from such things , there is no Incarnational Theology that can be convincingly argued that makes the usage of instruments theologically wrong. if there are I am willing to hear them.
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« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2012, 06:55:41 PM »

Where do we cross the lines on "carnal minds"?  I mean, some Christians will use this argument to avoid use of icons.

I don't know where the lines are drawn, but the use of melodic instruments certainly crosses that line according to patristic understanding.
Do you know of any article or writing that goes into detail on the patristic understanding of instruments in the Church?
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« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2012, 06:58:22 PM »


Yes, you can find a million and one pictures of organs, keyboards, pianos being used in Orthodox churches. The question is not are they used, but should they be used.
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« Reply #27 on: October 07, 2012, 06:59:52 PM »

Do you know of any article or writing that goes into detail on the patristic understanding of instruments in the Church?

I can remember coming accross a few online, but I'm afraid I can't remember where to find them.
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« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2012, 07:06:14 PM »

for the record and to reply to my brother Orthodox 11's  correct observation and request for confirmation, yes it is true the Ethiopian Orthodox Tradition also has the Divine Liturgy in accapela only and uses instruments in other Liturgical services.
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« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2012, 07:08:54 PM »

The question is not are they used, but should they be used.

The question is, should we try to draft some semi-theology to small t-traditons and local practices.
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« Reply #30 on: October 07, 2012, 07:11:19 PM »

Anyway, it would be interesting to contrast the practices of the Greeks in Egypt in the time before Chalcedon and in its immediate aftermath, prior to their eventual Byzantinization, if it were possible.

It would be a very interesting study, though I'm not sure how easily one could separate the practices of Copts and Greeks pre-Chalcedon considering that Greek was the predominant liturgical language of both. From what I understand, sources are sparse, and I'm not sure how easily you could identify a particular practice as belonging to Greeks or Copts.

Agreed. I have been told by several people that prior to the schism the Greeks and the Copts worshiped in alike manners, but of course what exactly that means varies greatly according to who says it. So I just wonder. As you probably already know, in the Coptic Orthodox narrative of their own history and origins, their chant forms date back to pre-Christian Pharaohs, though their historically verifiable origins are no earlier than Roman Egypt, which does not allow for the thousands upon thousands of years often found in descriptions written by Copts themselves. (Neither does it say that such connections are categorically impossible, though.)

It's a mystery. How appropriate for Orthodoxy. Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2012, 07:16:39 PM »

The question is, should we try to draft some semi-theology to small t-traditons and local practices.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church you're not talking about local practice, but universal practice pre-20th century, save one or two isolated cases here and there.
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« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2012, 07:19:23 PM »

Just speculating on my part, but I wonder if the insistence on singing as the primary choice of many churches is also from the fact that singing is something most people can try to do. Not everybody can learn to play a harp. It's harder to find someone who's good at that.
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« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2012, 07:22:30 PM »

The question is, should we try to draft some semi-theology to small t-traditons and local practices.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church you're not talking about local practice, but universal practice pre-20th century, save one or two isolated cases here and there.

The fact that something is not popular does not make it wrong. Schemamonks also are not very common yet no one protests against tonsuring them.

Reading this thread reminds me of one of Alex Riggle's popular text on tradition (the one about kneeling on the Cherubim hymn).
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« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2012, 07:40:16 PM »

I have been told by several people that prior to the schism the Greeks and the Copts worshiped in alike manners, but of course what exactly that means varies greatly according to who says it.

Indeed. It was simply the Alexandrian rite. If there was any variance it would have been urban vs. rural. Greeks would have been almost exclusively urban, while native Egyptians would have been represented in both. Beyond that, however, I don't think it's possible to speak of any difference along ethnic lines.

Quote
So I just wonder. As you probably already know, in the Coptic Orthodox narrative of their own history and origins, their chant forms date back to pre-Christian Pharaohs, though their historically verifiable origins are no earlier than Roman Egypt, which does not allow for the thousands upon thousands of years often found in descriptions written by Copts themselves. (Neither does it say that such connections are categorically impossible, though.)

Early musical notation only indicates features and changes in the music, serving merely as a reminder for someone who already knew the tunes, but does not allow you to decipher the melody itself. Thus it would be near enough impossible to verify any connection between modern Coptic chant and Pharonic music. The last Pharaoh of Egypt was herself a Greek who, unlike her predecessors, also spoke Coptic and saw herself very much as an Egyptian, so the interplay between Coptic and Hellenic culture and identity just before the arrival of Christianity is a very interesting one. I think it's safe to assume that the musical forms used in Alexandria pre-schism would have been, if not Greek, at least more Hellenic than the Coptic chant of today. That, however, does not mean Pharonic music was not preserved among the Copts, particularly those living away from the urban centres. It could be that while a more Hellenic musical form existed in Alexandria, something more akin today's Coptic chant was used elsewhere and that the latter became dominant after the schism. Alternatively, Pharonic melodies might not have been used liturgically pre-schism, but a more authentically Egyptian form of chant might have developed out of popular folk melodies following the schism. This is mere speculation on my part, of course, but I don't see any reason to assume that Coptic chant can't be both Pharonic and post-schism.
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« Reply #35 on: October 07, 2012, 07:43:40 PM »

The fact that something is not popular does not make it wrong. Schemamonks also are not very common yet no one protests against tonsuring them.

Reading this thread reminds me of one of Alex Riggle's popular text on tradition (the one about kneeling on the Cherubim hymn).

These aren't remotely comparable, though pretty much every monk on Mount Athos is a schemamonk, not that it matters.

The Fathers universally spoke against the use of musical instruments, musical instruments were avoided by the whole Church for 1900 years until someone went to a Catholic Mass and thought "that looks cool, why don't we put one in our church too?". Comparing it to kneeling at the Cherubic hymn is silly.
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« Reply #36 on: October 07, 2012, 07:51:43 PM »

I only very recently learned that a cappella literally means "of the church." I never noticed this before. While this doesn't necessarily point to the correctness of using or not using instruments in church, I find it interesting that lack of instruments was so strongly associated with church music that it became our term for it.

Does the association of a cappella music with church continue to hold outside of the romance languages?
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« Reply #37 on: October 07, 2012, 07:55:45 PM »

Excellent observation, Orthodox11, regarding the possible origins of Coptic chant. I think that is much more likely than the current view that has captured popular imagination, though I'll have to be careful in how I repackage your idea in any discussions with my Coptic friends, as all questions of self-identity or anything tied to the liturgy or history of the Church can be quite sensitive.
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« Reply #38 on: October 07, 2012, 08:08:57 PM »

I only very recently learned that a cappella literally means "of the church." I never noticed this before. While this doesn't necessarily point to the correctness of using or not using instruments in church, I find it interesting that lack of instruments was so strongly associated with church music that it became our term for it.

Does the association of a cappella music with church continue to hold outside of the romance languages?

In Spanish, the Latin-derived cognate "capilla" means "chapel" (the term "a capella" is just the Italian version of the phrase "of/like in the chapel") , so I guess I never stopped to notice that in English. I think in most European languages the word has been borrowed and treated as its own nativized word (e.g., even though the meaning is transparent in Spanish, as noted above, there is also the word "a capela" in Spanish which is understood to mean the same thing as when we use the word in modern English).

I looked it up in Arabic, and the resulting translation was بدون مصاحبة من الالات الموسيقية, meaning "Without the accompaniment of musical instruments". I have no idea how accurate that is (Google...), but "of the Church" would be من الكنيسة, so that's transparently not related.

Interesting question. Makes me wish I knew more languages (for Russian, Lithuanian, etc., I'm thinking it's a nativized loan as in English).
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« Reply #39 on: October 07, 2012, 11:41:48 PM »

Do you know of any article or writing that goes into detail on the patristic understanding of instruments in the Church?

I can remember coming accross a few online, but I'm afraid I can't remember where to find them.

If you ever find them, that would be helpful to learn.  Considering that only two fathers have been quoted so far, it's going to be hard to believe that it was "universally" written against, not that I don't believe you.
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« Reply #40 on: October 07, 2012, 11:49:39 PM »

If you ever find them, that would be helpful to learn.  Considering that only two fathers have been quoted so far, it's going to be hard to believe that it was "universally" written against, not that I don't believe you.

Let me add a third since I have that reference handy:
"David formerly sang songs, also today we sing hymns. He had a lyre with lifeless strings, the church has a lyre with living strings. Our tongues are the strings of the lyre with a different tone indeed but much more in accordance with piety. Here there is no need for the cithara, or for stretched strings, or for the plectrum, or for art, or for any instrument; but, if you like, you may yourself become a cithara, mortifying the members of the flesh and making a full harmony of mind and body. For when the flesh no longer lusts against the Spirit, but has submitted to its orders and has been led at length into the best and most admirable path, then will you create a spiritual melody." (Chrysostom, 347-407, Exposition of Psalms 41, (381-398 A.D.) Source Readings in Music History, ed. O. Strunk, W. W. Norton and Co.: New York, 1950, pg. 70.)


I just found this. I've only just skimmed it, so no idea what his thesis is or whether it's a convincing one, but he appears to have quite a lot of relevant quotes from the Fathers so I thought it might be of interest:
http://biblicalspirituality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/ancient-fathers-on-instrumental-music-by-david-vanbrugge.pdf
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« Reply #41 on: October 07, 2012, 11:56:34 PM »

If you ever find them, that would be helpful to learn.  Considering that only two fathers have been quoted so far, it's going to be hard to believe that it was "universally" written against, not that I don't believe you.

Let me add a third since I have that reference handy:
"David formerly sang songs, also today we sing hymns. He had a lyre with lifeless strings, the church has a lyre with living strings. Our tongues are the strings of the lyre with a different tone indeed but much more in accordance with piety. Here there is no need for the cithara, or for stretched strings, or for the plectrum, or for art, or for any instrument; but, if you like, you may yourself become a cithara, mortifying the members of the flesh and making a full harmony of mind and body. For when the flesh no longer lusts against the Spirit, but has submitted to its orders and has been led at length into the best and most admirable path, then will you create a spiritual melody." (Chrysostom, 347-407, Exposition of Psalms 41, (381-398 A.D.) Source Readings in Music History, ed. O. Strunk, W. W. Norton and Co.: New York, 1950, pg. 70.)


I just found this. I've only just skimmed it, so no idea what his thesis is or whether it's a convincing one, but he appears to have quite a lot of relevant quotes from the Fathers so I thought it might be of interest:
http://biblicalspirituality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/ancient-fathers-on-instrumental-music-by-david-vanbrugge.pdf
Awesome...cannot wait to read it Smiley
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« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2012, 05:38:41 AM »

for the record and to reply to my brother Orthodox 11's  correct observation and request for confirmation, yes it is true the Ethiopian Orthodox Tradition also has the Divine Liturgy in accapela only and uses instruments in other Liturgical services.

Thank you.

Quote
if we are to say that those things need to be do away with and especially for those reasons, we can also argue, our prayers are incense to him, therefore we do not need the physical incense, or that Christ is our vestment of righteousness, we do not need any Liturgical garments, etc etc. we will end up separating the created world from the Salvation and Regeneration given to it In Christ. the Entire Creation is called into the Worship of the Creator in Christ who became Fully Man, the entire Universe is Transfigured through Christ. the flutes, the incense, the cymbal, the icons, everything else man the cosmic priest raises up in thanksgiving to the Creator is ever more made perfect because of Christ's Incarnation.

so If we say the Incarnation is the Center of our Theology of Worship then..... such arguments.... ehm....

The incarnation not only sanctifies matter, but makes possible its ascent to something higher, more spiritual. It does not follow that anything, simply on account of being matter, automatically becomes appropriate for worship on account of the Incarnation. Even that which is decidedly good, food and sex, is still moderated on account of worship in order to subdue the carnal in favour of the spiritual. The question, then, is whether something is conducive to prayer or detracts from it. With respect to melodic instruments, the Fathers said quite decidedly that the latter was the case. The Jews were permitted to use them on account of their weakness - i.e. to keep them from going elsewhere, as we see them do on numerous occasions - but after Christ, we are called to a higher standard where such condescensions to carnal nature are no longer appropriate. Yes, the Fathers cite pagan worship, judaising, and general immorality as reasons against the use of instruments, but unlike so many other things, they never saw it appropriate to rehabilitate or christianise these, as attested to by their near two millennia long absence among the Orthodox (with the exception of the moderate use of non-melodic percussive devices among African OO communities - the distinction between melodic and percussive instruments was pointed to above).


It should also be noted that when the organ was introduced in the West, not long before the Great Schism, its purpose appears to have been similar to the isokratima in modern Byzantine chant (though I'm prepared to stand corrected here). In other words, its function was practical, much like the use of cymbals or triangles as time keeping devices among the Copts, and so even here we do not see the introduction of melodic instrumentation in worship until very late.
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« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2012, 08:26:27 AM »

Quote
The incarnation not only sanctifies matter, but makes possible its ascent to something higher, more spiritual. It does not follow that anything, simply on account of being matter, automatically becomes appropriate for worship on account of the Incarnation

will offer few clarification in here, you might also want to reread what I was saying as well. It is true that the entire creation that God called 'good' becomes sanctified and ascends to a higher realm because of  the Incarnation of God the Word. Now in the fallen world that seeks to exist apart from Christ corruption rules. So matter becomes perverted of its goodness and starts to serve sin and ultimately death. We are not talking about the perverted usage of matter that separates it from participating in the regeneration and elevation of state it got in Christ. It must be noted we are talking about the spiritual worship which created matter participates in, through Christ, not a carnal perversion of it at the hand of the fallen man and his carnal lusts.

for instance,the icons allow the participation in the Spiritual worship of God by the creation even though another painter can use the same ink wood, clay, color, etc. to create something that serves his carnal lusts and takes him away from worship of God. The abuse of all things good is an ever present possibility, however the Incarnation brings about the right relationship between the Creator and the Created World, in such a way that the Created world finds its fulfillment of purpose, perfection of being, via its participation in the Right Worship of the Father, through the Son in the Spirit.

I also must disagree with the assumption that the presence of the musical instruments used in the Temple Worship of God was an assention of God to Israel's carnality, and a way of appeasing thier hunger for the carnal.The Temple Worship of God with the Instruments was not a carnal event nor was it designed to keep Israel inside to satisfy their carnal desires of music and dance. We know the Temple worship of Israel was extremely focused on distancing oneself from any outside and inside hold of carnality, and idolatry. The purification laws and the separation laws attest to the level the law has put on the physical and spiritual separation of Israel as Holy people of God in imitation of the Holiness of their God. Although the law was not able to bring them life and freedom. He gave them the Law to hold them separate from the heathen to consecrate them for Himself as the people of his inheritance. Through the musical instruments that they used to praise Him, we see the Holy Spirit using to cast out demons just like He would use any other created matter that is sanctified and elevated through the participation in the Right Worship of the Creator. We see the Holy Spirit command in the psalms how to praise God by harmonizing our instruments of music as well as our voices. We see the same thing happening after the Coming of Christ, in Revelation in the Heavenly Liturgy the use of: the censors, the incense, the musical instruments, the vocal singing, all of it in harmony being used in a spiritual manner and not in a carnal manner.

In the History of the Early Church we see a number of battles being fought on many fronts by the fathers: cultural, spiritual, historical, and traditional, there were the Jews who want to Judaize everything in the church, there were the Jews who were repulsed by the pagan influence of the music that the newly convert former pagans  have in their tradition, the Temple having being destroyed the synagogue worship did not see it appropriate to include instrumental music that was part of the Temple worship so it was offensive to the Jews who were distraught at the loss of the Temple.


There were the newly converted pagans with cultures and traditions that have pagan origins that indulge in using music for carnal purposes and idol worshiping. There was such a strong association of music and sexual immorality, idolatry etc. that the only solution was to cut such influences off completely from the Church, this is a complex historical , cultural , social and spiritual event that lent its way to a practical and radical pastoral solution.


In order to do so and separate themselves from such influences a new theological argument that proved the usage of instruments to be inherently carnal seemed to develop. some using allegories have tried to say that the usage of instruments by the Jews is not literal, but allegorical, and others have used the literal presence of those instruments in the Temple Worship as signs of imperfection of Israel’s worship and the using of the human voice to be the most elevated worship, even though the human voice was present at the time of the Temple Worship also. There are also those who condemned any kind of music as satanic, base, which serves only the carnal nature. Jerome goes so far as to argue for no music at all in the Church be it accapella or with instruments. The argument remains the same that we are better than the Jews now Christ has come we can use our voices only to please God and all the scriptural instruments mentioned have allegorical meaning to us rather than literal. Those who perhaps like me, find it difficult to accept the interpretation that the Temple Worship of the Lord in musical instrument was engaging in carnality must ask then what else can be the reason for the argument against instruments. The motivation factor behind such argument is diverse, ranging from those who were fighting against the pagan influence of cultish practices of ritual music and dances that are often followed by sexual immorality, the others guarding against the common life of the people that was predominantly secular and pagan, with the theater being the major source of entertainment and influence. Those that worked in the theater in any form such as animal trainers etc. were told to quit or be excommunicated.  So the only feasible answer at least to me is that this was a pastoral care issue that necessitated the implementations of such canons at the time, much like the canons of avoiding a Jewish physician etc.

Again the Incarnation sanctifies and elevates matter to a complete and perfected existence in the spiritual worship of God, this is true. Matter is not holy by itself or simply because the Incarnation happened, bu tonly  in so far as it participated in the sanctification and elevation given to it by Christ, this happens by God’s Grace by the hand of Man the cosmic priest that bears the Image and Likeness of the Son, that lifts the interior and the exterior world in thanksgiving and adoration of the Creator. in such Right Worship the Scriptures will be fulfilled ‘Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5

Now having said that, I am not arguing for the incorporation of musical instruments where they are not used or the throwing away of them where they are used. Nor am I arguing against the long standing tradition of the Church. I am simply making an observation and trying to discuss for the sake of studying the matter as honestly as possible in the light of the Incarnational Theology of the Church. As well as the pastoral care the church has freedom to apply as needed.

I am still looking for the theological reason that relies on the scriptures and the Incarnational theology of the Church that will lead us to do away with musical instruments.

open to all corrections.
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« Reply #44 on: October 08, 2012, 11:45:35 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

In the Coptic Orthodox Church, we will occasionally use the cymbal and/or the triangle in order to mark the rhythm of the chant, as Coptic chant is very precisely rhythmically structured for all its famous melisma. The Ethiopians use the sistrum, the prayer staff, and the drum similarly. As the guide explains, these are not really "instruments" proper (in the sense of being used for musical performance), but have deep spiritual significance in themselves, and as such are seen as an integral part of the worship in themselves.

This is, I suppose, one difference between the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox, but it is important anyway to disentangle it a bit, because Westerners will often look to Oriental use of non-vocal accompaniment as "proof" that this diversity somehow sanctions the use of guitars, organs, or other melody-producing instruments in worship, when that is not quite the case. Of course, things are not as simple as binary opposition between those who would use instruments and those who would not, as we also have among us the Armenians who have adopted the organ in their liturgies (and the Greeks, if they are honest with themselves, have gone through periodic romances with the organ as well, though I'm glad to see that it seems to be dying out nowadays). Without judging the faith of the Armenians on that account, I do notice that places where Armenian tradition is taught stick to strictly vocal music. The same can be said about the Indian Syrians, who have otherwise sometimes adopted instruments into their liturgy, for reasons I can't begin to understand or articulate.

So I think it is fair to say, whether talking about the Byzantines or the non-Byzantines, that the standard for Orthodox worship is unaccompanied chant, essentially for the reason previously stated by Biro.

We do have Liturgical instruments, but I'm not sure if they are ever used during the Liturgy proper the way the Copts use the symbols.  We use them for hymns, and for Vigil prayers (the Mahalet) but I've never heard any instruments used during the Liturgy, not even our treasured Kibero drums which make such a delightful racket to annoy the more conservative Orthodox folks in Jerusalem every year at Epiphany and Pashca Wink

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