How marvelous that he wrote this letter to inspire and educate his clergy and laity.
So many of the experiences he speaks of I have also had, and are rare to encounter except amongst those involved in the WR orthodox and perhaps some similar experience. (some resemblence to the eastern byzantine roman catholics comes to mind as well).
Fr. Dimitri, his mother and I, went to a church in Connecticut that followed the Western rite, to see what it was like. But, while the actual text of the Mass or Liturgy was entirely correct and historical, there was no music -- due, I think, to the small number of people and to a lack of musical ability on those involved.
Fr. Dimitri, who was a learned medievalist and linguist, and active in the Old Rite, giving him a broader liturgical perspective, told me that this service should have been in Gregorian chant, and at least partly in Latin. He had lived in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, and had seen the old Mass as it was kept in those places in the 1940's and early 1950's.
To this day the only times I have experienced a WR rite orthodox liturgy that has actually fully met these standards , at least as I understand them, has been times where I was personally involved with maintaining them and singing them, including the mission I am part of. However, I do know that such conditions do exist, though not as often, or as nearby where I live as they ideally ought to. When on rare occasions I visit other WR churches/missions I must be content to be satisfied with a more minimalist "4 hymn sandwich" approach, as is rather typical amongst western churches of any sort. While they do usually have a few of the simplest gregorian chants in english (the ordinary of the mass and propers with a psalm tone), by far what often attracts more notice because they spend more time on them, is the metrical hymns which are "superimposed" as aliens onto the liturgy rather than being directly part of it, as the gregorian chants are. (generally it is post reformation style hymnody in melody and words, though without any theology opposed to orthodox teachings).
Though I always appreciated all manner of traditional music, I had very little experience singing or sight reading music until I was forced by my experience with Church to do so, as no one else was interested in pursueing it due to time, perceived lack of talent, cultural factors or time consumed learning it. I have to say that when I first began I was probably not very good, but I have become quite adequate, perhaps even good, after enough years of practice. It's been a very worthwhile experience and one that makes me naturally fit into the Orthodox Church, because these skills translate perfectly into the sung liturgy of the byzantine rite as well, even though the music and notation may be slightly different, if you can sing one, you can sing them all eventually.
But grasping the idea of "various typicons in the Church" is, as Patriarch Kyrill said in a private conversation with me at the Sobor in Moscow,* not only very Orthodox, but a key element in the education of future clergy. That was why he, himself, when he taught candidates for the priesthood, used to celebrate such rare Liturgies, and why he has continued to encourage me in this direction.
"There are 17 ways to do everything in the Orthodox Church", as one of our departed hierarchs was wont to say, "and 17 ways to do each of the 17 ways".
This is quite true. Amongst a few of the more conservative Roman Catholic Seminaries operating today there has been a trend toward allowing them to experience a byzantine rite liturgy at least once a year as a sort of "field trip". I once saw this happen in person and was very pleased and inspired to see it. (Not very many seminaries are doing this, but as a few of the ones that do are very large, it does in fact have a profound impact over time.)
The problems of misunderstanding and ignorance of different liturgies within the Church is a recurring challenge that has had negative results in both Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic church. To encourage appreciation and respect toward this multiplicity of historic orthodox liturgies is integral to missionary activity in multi-cultural societies. One doesnt have to be a "deranged ecumenist masonic modernist liturgist" in order to appreciate genuine historic timeless liturgical diversity as the various Saints and Fathers of the Church bear witness to in their writings. The Church faithful only grow stronger to understand in a casual way how these things are possible and how they historically were there, unbeknownst to many.
Thank you for sharing that letter!
Ad multos annos Epíscopo Hieronymus (Jerome) et omni clero ei commísso pax, vita et salus perpétua!
(Many years to Bishop Jerome and to all the clergy under his charge, everlasting peace life and salvation! )