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Poll
Question: How would you feel about hearing Orthodox texts sung to modal plainchant as well as the other kinds of chant we have (Byzantine, Russian, Znamenny, etc.) ?
Don't know about that...
Sure, why not.
Could care less.
Don't know about that...
Absolutely not!

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Author Topic: Vote: Modal (e.g. Gregorian) style chant in church or no?  (Read 1663 times) Average Rating: 0
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MicahJohn
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« on: April 12, 2006, 07:33:18 PM »

My personal feeling is that here in America (and certainly in the West in general), for those of us who aren't Russian, Greek, etc., modal plainchant is closest to being "ours".  The other chants we use are imported from other cultures and traditions.  Not that we couldn't use them, to be sure, but why not include the modal style as well?  If you ask most people about church chanting here in the U.S., they think Gregorian, because of the Catholic Church.  Strictly speaking, Gregorian refers to a body of texts set to modal plainchant.  We have our own texts; other than catering to peoples likes, dislikes and prejudices, is there a good reason not to use this style for our services?  Is it incapable of bringing the heart to compunction and repentance, as is the aim of the chants that most of the Orthodox world is familiar with?  What do you think?
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yBeayf
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2006, 07:53:04 PM »

No, no, and a million times no. Western plainchant is for Western Rite churches. I fully support spreading its use far and wide, but only within the context of the Western Rite.
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Timos
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2006, 10:53:53 AM »

I second Beafy's opinion. If you are going to use Gregorian chant in whatever language,  use it in the Western Rite where it fits most appropriately. It wouldn't make sense to sing the Cherubic Hymn in a Western Mass in a greek or russian style and also it would not be appropriate to sing western chant in an eastern liturgical setting. It would be very haphazard and would not make much sense liturgically.
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2006, 01:22:24 PM »

I'm not a big fan of having WR churches (which was in another discussion awhile ago), but since they're around, I will have to agree with my brethren here in thinking that Gregorian chant only belongs within the liturgical tradition of the WR.  Any attempt to use it in the Other Churches would represent a radical shift in Liturgical continuity and gradual development.
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MicahJohn
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2006, 02:03:08 PM »

Basically I see two, maybe three viewpoints within the Church:

1. Western Liturgics is totally out to lunch and must be discarded.  It left the true path and was not inspired by the Holy Spirit like the Eastern Liturgy.

2. We ought not to have WR parishes; we ought to be of common faith and worship.  But we should make an effort to salvage anything we can from Western Liturgics for Orthodox use, since we here are Westerners.  One of those salvageable things would be modal chant.

3. Let the Westerners do their thing and lets not mix it up with the Eastern traditions at all.  Western rites are perfectly fine and good, and ought to be encouraged.

So why not have every US parish be WR, since we are certainly westerners here?

I understand the logic of not wanting to mix traditions but keep things separate, distinct, and pure.  I have a hard time understanding the wish to section off the Church into distinct liturgical traditions.  I see great concern for the purity of Eastern rites, but anything Western is either dead, Catholic, or reconstituted.  How much of the Orthodox Church really approves of Western rites at all?  I haven't gotten the impression that it's a very large portion; everyone I've seen disapproves of it, saying it has gone too far afield.  From that point of view it only makes sense, then, in Western countries, to follow the pattern of integrating into the existing culture and appropriating things that can be salvaged, like the chants.

To me the problem of Western vs. Eastern liturgics feels a bit like the problem of the "tossed salad" analogy in reference to multiculturalism, where we must be very careful to separate out and be distinct, and never mix, since that would destroy the purity of individual traditions/cultures.  But traditions/cultures change over time and evolve as peoples interact.  And I just can't see splitting the Church up like having separate rites will do.  Yes, way back there were different rites in different places, but to my knowledge this was due to peoples being cut off from one another by wars and unfortunate circumstances.
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yBeayf
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2006, 04:11:54 PM »

Quote
So why not have every US parish be WR, since we are certainly westerners here?

An excellent question, and one I've never seen a satisfactory answer to.

Quote
I have a hard time understanding the wish to section off the Church into distinct liturgical traditions.

Because having only one liturgical tradition is a historical abberation, and one that has done great damage to the Church by identifying the Church with one particular rite and a particular set of cultures that happened to fall within the Byzantine sphere of cultural influence.

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anything Western is either dead, Catholic, or reconstituted.

False.

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everyone I've seen disapproves of it, saying it has gone too far afield.

I find that hard to believe, especially as on this very board there are several people (such as myself) who are very much in favor of it. If anything, it hasn't gone nearly far enough. The WR should be the normative Orthodox rite in this country, and one should have to justify the creation of a new ER parish, rather than the other way around.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2006, 04:14:00 PM by yBeayf » Logged
Jonathan
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2006, 04:15:14 PM »

I don't like saying that the western stuff is the only stuff that's "ours".

Coptic Orthodox music sounded foreign to me years ago... but western church music was no more mine, the only music I knew was a bit of contemporary worldly stuff... Now the only music that's mine is the Coptic hymnology, everything else is foreign to me.

The hymnology is so intertwined with the history of the church, with the practice, with being Orthodox that it can't simply be cut out and replaced without serious harm... Maybe over generations it will become less eastern sounding in the churches here, but naturally, evolving, not as an artificial, imposed change.

I can't imagine Holy Week without all the Psalms chanted in the ancient tunes... I can't imagine Great Friday without Golgotha chanted in its ancient pharonic tune... I've heard some british orthodox stuff, and I just can't imagine going to church and singing that, it just doesn't feel right, it's not mine... My linieage may come from england, but that doesn't make their tunes mine.

My priest had western style icons put in instead of coptic ones... he's said it makes the church more open to white converts (like me)... but I don't like them, they feel out of place there, I like the Coptic ones... The church is beautiful as it is, there's no need to make it more paletable to westerners, it's stands as it is (except of course for saying things in the local language, which is what the Coptic Church has always done, at least until 50 years ago when some people wanted to use other languages to keep their culture, which is not right)
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Timos
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2006, 04:53:32 PM »

now we're really getting a whole bunch of issues mixed together!

So why not have every US parish be WR, since we are certainly westerners here?

Technically, if Orthodoxy is really the Apostolic missionary church for all people everywhere that it is and strives to be, then yes, the WR should be the normative Rite here in North America but then we must answer the huge question of where that leaves all the ethnic Orthodox people like the Greeks, Serbs, Arabs (AOA/Copts), Russians, etc.

Perhaps in a few generations this might come about....and yet I highly doubt this since for example Greeks in the future generations will most probably still want to practise the Greek Byzantine Rites as do I. I personally love my Byzantine Rite. But I also love the Roman Rite, perhaps because I went to Catholic school for many years and was exposed to it at an early age.

Another thing is that converts (at least that I know of) often want to dispose of anything of their past Protestantism/Catholicism as if the very fact that they are Western are somehow defiled, evil, and not fit for worshipping God in--perhaps with the help of us easterners pushing our rites (not meaning to maybe), train of thought on converts etc. With this in mind, many converts want to be "fully" Orthodox and so think that if they don't transfer their rite, that won't be accomplished.
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Elisha
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2006, 06:33:48 PM »

We've been rehearsing a Gregorian Chant (taken from an Alleluia in Tone 1) Christ is Risen in Latin (Christus Ressurexit) for Pascha.  Our Choir director also intends to scrounge up a Gregorian melody for the Pope St. Gregory Post Communion prayer (for Presanctified Liturgy), but that will probably happen sometime next year.  Oh, and we are a regular Byz Rite OCA parish that is probably a little more "Byzantine" in culture than your average OCA parish.

But that is all the "Gregorian Chant" we are potentially doing.  Christ is Risen is fair game in every language.
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MicahJohn
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2006, 09:03:14 PM »

Quote
anything Western is either dead, Catholic, or reconstituted.

I mean that's the impression I get of what people think, not that I think it.

Quote
I don't like saying that the western stuff is the only stuff that's "ours".

I didn't say the only thing, just the closest.  It's the closest simply because of the dominance of the Catholic Church here as liturgical Christianity, with Anglican next in line.  Sure, we can make anything "ours", as we have been doing with the Eastern rites and music.  You've immersed yourself in the Coptic traditions so they are the most familiar to you.  But the fact remains that the liturgical heritage of Americans of European descent is that of the West, the Catholics and Anglicans.  Some of us may decide we fit better into something we appropriate as our own, and that's fine, but someday I'd like to get out of using borrowed traditions.  We have our own!

It just doesn't happen to be Orthodox.  A well-educated priest told me at one time, upon my questioning him, that in order to find a Western liturgical tradition that was fully Orthodox and could validly be used, one would have to go so far back in time, before the Carolingian period and Charlemagne, that it would be unrecognizable; it would seem Eastern to us.  In essence, a true Western Orthodox rite has never existed, because as soon as the West began to look like the West, it was already departing from Orthodox Christianity.

I'm not an expert in this stuff.  Those who know better than me have made it clear that the Western liturgical orders we have today are too far from the center to be used.  That's why I ask about salvaging the good things from them.
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yBeayf
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2006, 10:46:58 PM »

Quote
A well-educated priest told me at one time, upon my questioning him, that in order to find a Western liturgical tradition that was fully Orthodox and could validly be used, one would have to go so far back in time, before the Carolingian period and Charlemagne, that it would be unrecognizable; it would seem Eastern to us.

This priest may be well-educated, but he's full of it. The liturgies used by the Antiochians and ROCOR are fully Orthodox, having been adopted by the Church. And a Western liturgy from before the Carolingians would *still* seem more Western than Eastern, and *still* be much more familiar to Westerners than any Eastern liturgy is; the Western liturgy is remarkably conservative, and the Eastern liturgies are not; if we were to go back in time, the Western liturgies would still look Western, but the Eastern liturgies would look pretty Western, too!
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