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Re: [liturgy-l] Is it LITURGY or an addition?

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  • Frank Senn
    I don t know how to get a handle on addressing the issues you raise. I don t like to write long posts, just long books. Sorry about that. Let me try some
    Message 1 of 40 , Feb 1, 2008
      I don't know how to get a handle on addressing the issues you raise. I don't like to write long posts, just long books. Sorry about that. Let me try some general principles.

      Mild asceticism and mild mysticism should be a part of Christian life. Some Christians want bigger doses and become monks and contemplatives.

      Parochial/cathedral prayer seems to work best when it is highly ritualized and even ceremonial, that is, repetitive and action-oriented. Theologically it serves the sanctification of time and the routines of daily life. Monastic prayer tends to reduce ceremonies in order to deepen contemplation. The prayer offices are less related to the sanctification of time than to ascetic discipline. That's why the recitation of psalms proliferated in a growth of of control in monastic offices. One didn't choose psalms based on the time of day. One simply bulldozed through the psalter.

      To make a long story short, the history of the prayer offices of the church is the history of the monastic takeover of public prayer. Renewal of the prayer offices has tried to reclaim the ritualized and ceremonial aspects of public corporate prayer. Examples of that are the light ceremony and incense offering in Vespers and the paschal blessing in Matins/Lauds. The texts of parochial/cathedral prayer need to be briefer and to the point. For example, one psalm rather than three or four. What works for monks doesn't necessarily work for parish pastors and the average lay person, just as what transpires in seminary chapels seldom works in parish worship.

      Frank C. Senn

      Tom Poelker <TomPoelker@...> wrote: SUBJECT WAS:
      Re: [liturgy-l] Review: Camaldolese Office Book - Lauds and Vespers

      I ask John and Frank in particular because of these two attached recent
      messages, but all are invited to offer an opinion:

      If we are talking about contemplative practices and ascetic practices
      and institutional objectives, have we not lost the fundamental focus of
      liturgical prayer?

      If we use a more specific definition of liturgy rather than including
      all public worship, is not Christian liturgy the formal, public worship
      of the entire community? Is not parish liturgy, even house liturgy, the
      functional basic form, and cathedral and monastic liturgy elaborations
      for specific needs or desires? Is not liturgy something other than
      asceticism or contemplation?

      I see those as spiritual practices in the wider sense of humans being
      composed of body, mind, and spirit, rather than as specifically
      Christian practices in the sense of gifts of the Holy Spirit. Human
      spiritual practices can be adapted to Christian living and a great
      variety of them appeal to a variety of personality types. In this
      sense, asceticism and contemplation are akin to music, with a limited
      role in liturgy and with various types having appeal to various
      demographics but none having any priority over more basic liturgical

      I suspect those additional objectives as being in conflict with full,
      conscious, and active participation of all the faithful. I think that
      participation is meant to strengthen ordinary Christians for daily
      living of the teachings of Jesus in the secular world. I think we ought
      to be identifying things which have attached to the liturgy and
      re-establish those things in their own programs at separate times, just
      as religious music concerts and catechetical education belong outside
      the liturgy.

      What do you think?

      Tom Poelker
      St. Louis, Missouri
      -- When you were born, you were crying
      and everyone around you was smiling.
      -- Live your life so at the end,
      you're the one who is smiling and
      everyone around you is crying.

      asteresplanetai@... wrote:

      > +
      > > In a message dated 1/20/08 2:28:41 PM Pacific Standard Time,
      > > fcsenn@... <mailto:fcsenn%40sbcglobal.net> writes:
      > >> Concluding the psalm with a period of silence and a psalm prayer is a
      > >> contemplative practice and therefore most likely found in developed
      > >> monastic
      > >> traditions or traditions of the office influenced by monasticism. This
      > >> would
      > >> hardly be "early Christian." More likely late ancient or early
      > medieval.
      > Doug provided a relevant quote from Cassian, so that answers my original
      > question. I suspect there's little else to go on, but cassian wasn't
      > particularly an innovator, though as far as i know it's not known whether
      > he's reporting an unusual practice or a widespread one.
      > however the trend, as far as i know, in monastic psalmody was to do more
      > and more and more and more. The trappists, for example, used to sing about
      > 250 psalms per week, with all the repetitions (now since the reforms of
      > the 60's (speaking from memory, not recent experience) they do more like
      > just one psalter, period, with repetitions only of ps 95, magnificat,
      > benedictus, and the lauds psalms.) In the orthodox church we do two entire
      > psalters a week during lent (one per week the rest of the year), plus a
      > *whole* lotta repetitions daily-- probably about 20 extra psalms on a day
      > when great compline is served. i think the practice at cluny was similar.
      > So, under such regime, there is little time for periods of silent
      > contemplation after each psalm.
      > so cassian attests to a very early practice in the sketes and hermitages
      > and small cenobia. but this would seem to have died out pretty much not
      > long after him. the idea of psalmody that took over certainly by the time
      > the monastic and cathedral rites were being wedded in constantinople (4th
      > through 6th century, i think it was), was that of an ascetic act, rather
      > than a contemplative one: to do as much as humanly possible, and to 'pray
      > continuously' or 'without ceasing', not just in the heart (though that
      > too), but institutionally. The introduction of periods of silence in
      > western monasteries in the 1960's was actually a pretty big innovation, in
      > the light of the previous millennium and a half's practice. you'd have to
      > ask the monks who lived through the change (and they're getting old now!)
      > which they've found more fruitful; i suspect most find the new practice
      > more congenial, but we'll have to see in a few centuries what happens
      > with, and as a result of, all those reforms.
      > regards from bright salt lake city
      > john burnett

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • asteresplanetai@jbburnett.com
      ... hmmm. interesting comparison between the kathisma hymns and the collects, but actually not quite the same, although they do reflect the theme of the day of
      Message 40 of 40 , Feb 7, 2008

        > 2.1. Re: Prayer Offices
        > Posted by: "James Morgan" rdrjames@... rdrjames
        > Date: Wed Feb 6, 2008 7:16 pm ((PST))
        > Just a thought on the use of 'psalm collects' during the recitation of
        > the psalter. In the Eastern tradition we have 'kathisma prayers' which
        > are added at the end of each kathisma or section of the psalter. John
        > burnett will no doubt have more information on this. they are only used
        > in private recitation, not in the offices.
        > And I intend to get the Camaldolese book. it looks to be very
        > interesting.

        hmmm. interesting comparison between the kathisma hymns and the collects,
        but actually not quite the same, although they do reflect the theme of the
        day of the week or of the saint and feast if it's one of those days. Their
        purpose is to provide a bit of music (and an occasion to stand), which
        breaks the monotony of reciting 15 or 20 psalms in a sitting. Or rather,
        three sittings, interrupted by kathisma hymns.

        Here are a couple of examples, from the Paralikitiki (a.k.a Octoechos, or
        Book of the Eight Tones), which is the main book used throughout the year
        for the (eight-)weekly cycle of vespers and matins. They almost always
        have special melodies, but if you don't know the special melody, you use
        the troparion tone:


        From Matins on the Lord's Day, Tone 1:

        After the First Reading from the Psalter, we sing the Resurrectional
        Kathisma Hymns:

        Tone 1

        The soldiers who kept watch over your tomb, O Savior, / fell down as dead
        at the lightning brightness of the angel, / who appeared and proclaimed
        the resurrection to the women. / We glorify you, the Destroyer of
        corruption; / we fall down before you, who are risen from the tomb, / our
        only God.

        V. Arise, O Lord my God, lift up your hand: / do not forget your poor
        until the end.

        Nailed to the cross of your own will, O Merciful One, / and laid in the
        tomb as dead, O Giver of Life, / by your death you have wiped out the
        power of death, / for the gatekeepers of hades trembled before you. / With
        your-self, you have raised up the dead from the ages, / O only Friend of

        Glory; both now. Theotokion.

        All of us who, yearning, seek refuge in your goodness, / know you to be
        the Mother of God, / who after bearing child remained truly Virgin. /
        Indeed, we sinners have in you an intercessor, / and in temptation we have
        you as our salvation, / who alone are without blemish.

        And another set from Monday, Tone 1:

        After the second Reading from the Psalter, other Kathisma Hymns [of

        [To the melody:] The soldiers standing guard.

        In your open arms receive me, O my Father; I have wasted my life like the
        prodigal. But I gaze, O my Savior, on the inexhaustible wealth of your
        great mercy. Despise not my heart, though I have utterly wasted it. O
        Lord, to you I cry, pleading for mercy: Father, I have sinned against
        heaven and before you.

        V. O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or chasten me in your wrath.

        Fearsome is your judgment seat, and your judgment is just; but my works
        are very evil. Come, O merciful Lord, before it is too late: save me and
        deliver me from punishment. Redeem me, O Master, from the condemnation of
        the goats, and count me worthy to stand at your right hand, O Judge most

        Glory; both now. Theotokion.

        O pure Virgin, pilot my wretched soul and have pity on me, for I perish,
        sinking into the deep water under a multitude of offenses; and in the
        dread hour of death, set me free from the fearsome sentence of the
        accusing devils.


        However, it is not at all correct to say that the kathisma hymns are used
        only in private recitation and not in public liturgy. There is nothing in
        our books which is intended for private recitation only. What has happened
        is that, in Russian parish usage, the singing of the kathisma hymns (which
        by the way are found only at matins, not after the psalter at vespers) has
        dropped out in most places along with the recitation of the psalms
        themselves; but russians tend to do at least a good-sized chunk of the
        canon (and i believe that some sing the kathisma hymn that's appointed for
        after the 3rd ode of the canon as well). The greeks don't recite the
        psalter and don't sing the canon at all, except for the seasonal
        katavasiai (the concluding verse of each ode), but they do sing the
        kathisma hymns. However, in monasteries, they do everything just as
        appointed in the books.

        The first hymn on monday ("In your open arms") above, by the way, happens
        to be the one that is sung when a novice is brought forth to be tonsured
        as a monk. The Znamenny melody i'm familiar with is quite beautiful.

        i'm sure all of this is quite opaque to our western friends.

        regards from snowy salt lake city,

        john burnett.
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