Critical reviews (by Lutheran pastors and church musicians) of books and other resources for Christian worship, preaching, and church music from a perspective rooted in Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and good common sense. LHP Quarterly Book Review asks, "Is it worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach?"
Feed: internetmonk.com Posted on: Monday, October 08, 2012 10:01 AM Author: Chaplain Mike Subject: Fr. Ernesto on Music in Orthodox Worship
Note from CM: Fr. Ernesto Obregon has been one of IM's "liturgical gangstas" for a long time. He practices his faith in the Antiochan Orthodox tradition. We turn to him when we want insight into the theology and life of the Orthodox church. He blogs at OrthoCuban.
* * *
Orthodox worship involves the whole body and all its senses. One quote from an Orthodox website says, "Orthodox Church art and music has a very functional role in the liturgical life and helps even the bodily senses to feel the spiritual grandeur of the Lord's mysteries." In many Orthodox worship settings throughout the world, there are literally almost no spoken words. All words are chanted (sung). In fact, chanting styles have developed to try to guarantee that what is said is understood.
This is because in an Orthodox worship, the words that are being chanted are of supreme importance. There are different chanting styles, but they all have as a goal the making the words of the chant to be fully understandable. In fact, the words of an Orthodox worship have not varied in centuries, though sometimes certain words have been omitted. (Note: the translation of the words has obviously varied, but not the general words themselves.)
But, you need to understand that at its heart, the Orthodox see their music as connecting them to the music that is being sung by the angels and the elders at the foot of the throne of God (Rev. 4:8-11, Isa. 6:1-4, Eze. 3:12). Exodus 25 claims that the worship of Israel followed a heavenly pattern. The Book of Hebrews confirms that and further alludes to Christian worship also following that same heavenly pattern. "We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat."
Music is not an option for the Orthodox or frosting on the cake. It is something which ought to be a part of every believer's life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote, "You must every one of you join in a choir so that being harmonious and in concord and taking the keynote of God in unison, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father, so that He may hear you and through your good deeds recognize that you are parts of His Son."
When we chant, we chant Truth. When we sing, we join with the angels in heaven and the elders before the throne and the multitude from every tribe, nation, people, and language. When we chant, we pray to God. When we sing, we express our oneness and our fellowship is with God the Father through Jesus Christ so that He may hear us. When we chant we join ourselves to the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets, to the New Testament apostles, to the historic saints and martyrs of the Church, to both the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant. When we sing we join our Earthly experience to the heavenly realities.