Re: [orthodox-readers] Re: Greetings, & choir directors
----- Original Message -----
From: "psaltisuk" <ivanmoody@...>
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 4:53 PM
Subject: [orthodox-readers] Re: Greetings, & choir directors
Since we are sharing.... :-)
I was tonsured a reader in 1998, and have read the epistle only a handful of
times. Basically, we have a sub-deacon who is usually serving with the
priest, while both tonsured readers along with some others do most of the
chanting. Thus, since he doesn't do a whole lot, he tends to do the Epistles
readings, we usually do the psalms and OT readings. Only problem with that
is that it gives me and the other reader very few touches on the ball, so to
speak, and so I'm sure there are some things about just reading the Epistle
that I don't know how to do very well.
There are certain things which are in Western notation, (like I've seen "He
who was suspended from the tree" like this) with the notation "Chant like
reading the Epistle." Thus, I know there are certain ways to chant it but we
have never been taught them nor would we have much opportunity to practice
it. Only when the sub-deacon is not there do we do this. Actually, this
Sunday will be such a time since the priest is going to be out of town, we
will be doing a Typika, and the sub-deacon will be reading the Gospel, which
leaves the Epistle to me or the other reader.
Anyway, our church has a choir director, and the priest's wife serves as a
back up. The only time I've lead a liturgy (which is about the only time we
have a "choir" going) is when there are not many people there, and then I
usually just start singing and others join in. So, I don't have much to
offer with insight into that question, but most of my duties revolve around
making sure we do the services right and in a proper manner, organizing the
chanters, and I do sing in the choir as well, bass. Thus, I'm rarely ever
(though I have done it before) helping in the sanctuary or reading the
Also, on the note of the vesting to receive communion, I have asked my
priest about it and some others who have been around, and none of them
seemed to know what I was talking about, or recall readers doing such. Not
saying it doesn't happen, obviously it does, but apparently it is a practice
not done much around here or in our archdiocese.
Rdr. Timothy Copple
- johnmblack wrote:
> Greetings to you all, and Christ is risen!Indeed He is Risen!
> Are any of you here share duties as a Reader and as the choirI'm a tonsured Reader, choir member, Altar Sacristan, and I've directed the
> director in your parish? I'd like some (both philosophical and
> logistical) commentary on how the roles fit together in everyday
> parish life. For example, I know a bona fide Reader should read the
> Epistle whenever present, as opposed to a layman, but of course that
> would be difficult with my involvement in the choir.
Slavonic choir at our parish on occassion when the choir director was in
Russia. On a regular basis, I balance choir singing duites with Altar
serving and reading duties. This is not always an easy task.
When directing the choir, that was my primary and only duty at the
service. I deferred to someone else to read, even someone not tonsured.
When I try to do too much, I must remind myself that The Church adjusts
to the needs of a particular community. An example, consider in some
churches that don't have a Winding Sheet (Epitaphios, Plashanitza), the
Antimension is used instead. Therefore, I believe it reasonable that if
the most qualified choir director is the only tonsured Reader, he will
direct the choir and someone else will read.
Naturally, if you are much more talented than I, and can balance reading
the Epistle with directing the choir, that's great, but I'm speaking on
behalf of those less able to read and direct the singing of the
Prokeimenon and Alleluia. :-)
> Also, I get the impression from some friends of mine who are ReadersI certainly began as an Altar server, but that has no bearing on my
> elsewhere in the diocese or region that Readers should take on
> responsibilities assisting the clergy in services. (Perhaps that's
> more due to local situations, where a Reader started out as an altar
> boy; I don't know.) :-)
reading and singing. Again, my first duty is where I'm needed most. I
primarily read when and wherever other Readers are absent (which, at our
church, ends up being most of the time besides Liturgy, where instead we
have a weekly rotation of all tonsured Readers who wish to do so), sing
whenever there are not enough basses and/or tenors, and finally serve
otherwise. I ended up being the head Reader, despite being the youngest,
because I was the only one that came to services consistently, and
therefore tend to have reading as a first priority. Singing is my next
most-important responsibility, as our choir director, the priest's wife
(Matushka, Presbytera) requests my presence. I enjoy singing, but tend
to do it Sunday under obedience to her (yes, that's right, obedience to
the Priest's wife) as it can become laborsome, not necessarily
spiritually edifying, on Sundays. Altar serving, even as head Altar
server and Sacristan, is my last responsibility, as we tend to have
others who can do this. On a weekday, I may need to help at the
Entrances, but again, it's a matter of necessity. Simply speaking, I
concentrate on my first job at hand as much as I need to in order to
make the service run as smoothly, correctly, and spiritually edefying
for the faithful as possible. That, I believe, is my responsibility.
> I'm also very intrigued by the whole "vesting" discussion that wentEver since I was a simple Altar server I have always seen the reader,
> on a few months ago. I, too, had never realized the implications of
> the Sticharion to a Reader (partly because there were no Readers in
> any of the parishes I grew up in.) I'm glad I read through those
> messages, becase this Sunday will be the first "normal" Liturgy since
> my tonsuring and I hadn't thought of any of those issues. I'll
> report back as to what our custom turns out to be.
tonsured or not (male, of course), wear a Stikharion. However, it was
not until well after becoming a Reader that I learned of the cassock and
Stikharion. The signifigance of the Stikharion is clear, as this is the
garment that the Bishop blesses the Reader to wear at his tonsuring. As
such, it is reasonable to conclude that it should be worn whenever
participating (i.e. performing the duties to which he is ordained) in
the Divine services, and whenever receiving communion. This is
comparable to priests and deacons required to wear, at the bear minimum,
stoles (oraria or epitrachelia) and cuffs when doing the same.
Furthermore, the cassock is the sign of the clergy. Although our bishop
disagrees with this assesment, the canons state that ALL clergy must
wear simple attire and proper liturgical dress (read: cassocks and
vestments when appropriate). Therefore, I ALWAYS wear my cassock
whenever in church, usually when on church grounds, and typically at
church functions. Our bishop hasn't caught me on this regard, and has
furthermore blessed me to wear the skufia outside of the Divine
services, unless outdoors. Be forewarned, however, as your mileage may
vary by individual community and jurisdiction.
I hope this was not too boring, and at least partly helpful.
Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!
With love in Our Risen Lord,
Reader Alexander Vallens
- Reader Timothy Copple wrote, « ... the notation "Chant like reading the
Epistle." Thus, I know there are certain ways to chant it but we have never
been taught them... »
I'm curious about this, too. In our little mission parish, and in at least
one other place I've been, the Epistle is chanted with a slowly rising pitch
as it progresses. That is, the chanter starts chanting in the usual style
but in a fairly low pitch, and then several times through the reading,
raises that pitch by a half-step, so by the end of the reading, he is
chanting in a considerably higher pitch than he began. I think I have
gathered that this is the practice in many places in the ROCOR, and I think
I've been told that it is the practice at the Jordanville monastery, but I
may be wrong.
On a few occasions, there has been no one to read the Epistle but me, though
I am a lay member, so with the priest's blessing, I chanted the Epistle, but
I never had tried chanting the way I just described, and somehow was afraid
I would mess it up, and I've simply chanted the Epistle the way I chant
other things in church.
So I'm curious, too, is one way strongly to be preferred over others? Or is
it just up to the priest, or the reader, or the Jurisdiction? (I'm in the
If I need to do it again, one day, I certainly will try to do it the other
way if that's what I should do.
- --- In orthodox-readers@y..., "Reader Michael J. Bishop"
> [...]Unfortunately I haven't been told any specific rules.
> somebody came up with some rules, one of which
> said that a Reader should wear his cassock only
> during the services. However, this apparently
> is not the rule that several bishops whom I know
What are those bishop's opinions? (I'm just asking
out of curiosity, to see what the opinion of the
average Orthodox bishop is. I know ultimately it's
what _my_ bishop thinks that matters, :-) but I'd
still like to know.)
> Monday I was at a monastery most of the day and II agree wholeheartedly. It's interesting to note
> was in cassock all day. Nobody told me that it
> was inappropriate for me to wear my cassock. In
> fact, one priest told me that I am supposed to be
> in my cassock there. He also said that I am
> supposed to be in cassock if I attend any church
> related function, including the local Greek
> festivals, etc.
that in ancient times, cassock-like garments were
even worn by the laity. For those of us who have
been ordained/tonsured/blessed into service, it is
our permanent liturgical garment, and we should wear
it for any Orthodox liturgical function, home or
away. As for church-sponsored social events, I
suppose it's more of a grey area, but ask yourself:
"Am I (or could I be perceived as) representing the
Church in any way?" Obviously, if you came to
church to do painting or yard work, that's different.
On the flip side, I'm not so sure about wearing it
totally outside of church (like all day at home, etc.)
That seems a bit weird. :-) But that's just me.
> My former Bishop saw me in cassock at a churchBut it was in an Orthodox church, right? Then you did
> where the President of the United States spoke.
> This definitely was not a religious activity and,
the right thing. I guess a general rule of thumb
would be "any time you are participating in any
liturgical function, or on church grounds for any
> [...] Now I own five cassocks, including one grayI was under the impression that the custom of colored
> which I wear during Pascha season. I discussed
> this with my former priest before I had it made and
> he told me not to get white because it will get dirty
> too easily. So I chose gray. My Bishop saw me in it
> last year. This year I wore the black.
cassocks for married clergy only applied to the rank of
Priest. What have other people experienced in this
Rdr John M. Black
- --- "Timothy Copple" <Timothy@r...> wrote:
> There are certain things which are in WesternThe styles of chanting vary from culture to
> notation, (like I've seen "He who was suspended
> from the tree" like this) with the notation
> "Chant like reading the Epistle." Thus, I know
> there are certain ways to chant it but we have
> never been taught them nor would we have much
> opportunity to practice it.
culture as much as the music traditions do. For
example, the custom of reading the Epistle in
chromatic fashion is a particularly Russian
custom, and even then I think it only began in the
17-1800s with the influence of the western music
academia. (I could be wrong on that -- anyone
know for sure?)
Regardless of the particular [musical] style used
for chanting various things, I think the style of
chanting depends on what is being read -- almost
like a "hierarchy". Chanting for OT readings and
Psalms should be the least stylized (or simplest.)
The Epistle and Prokeimenae should be more
stylized, and then the Gospel should be the most
Some people I've talked to about this also feel
that chanting in general should be less stylized
during Great Lent.
----- Original Message -----
From: "johnmblack" <johnmblack@...>
Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 11:11 AM
Subject: [orthodox-readers] Chanting styles
> --- "Timothy Copple" <Timothy@r...> wrote:
> > There are certain things which are in Western
> > notation, (like I've seen "He who was suspended
> > from the tree" like this) with the notation
> > "Chant like reading the Epistle." Thus, I know
> > there are certain ways to chant it but we have
> > never been taught them nor would we have much
> > opportunity to practice it.
> The styles of chanting vary from culture to
> culture as much as the music traditions do. For
> example, the custom of reading the Epistle in
> chromatic fashion is a particularly Russian
> custom, and even then I think it only began in the
> 17-1800s with the influence of the western music
> academia. (I could be wrong on that -- anyone
> know for sure?)
Yes, I would gather. The music I've seen in our (Antiochian) archdiocese
that indicates "Chant like the Epistle" is not in the chromatic fashion
(moving gradually higher and higher), though I have heard that several
times. I've also heard it done where it goes up, and then somewhere
mid-point, it begins to go back down. Personally, I find that style very
distracting to me. It builds a tension in me that grows with each step up
and I find it very difficult to really pay attention to the words, more so
than normal. That's just me, however. Thus, I would probably only use that
style if told to by a bishop or priest specifically. I would, however, like
to learn the style for my own archdiocese, but that is one of the things we
don't do here. Our sub-deacon who usually reads the Epistle, does so without
chanting, in a spoken voice. However, he is one of the few in our
archdiocese who I've seen do that, most chant in some fashion. Thus,
whenever I read it, I usually plain chant it as I do other text.
However, if I took that music which says to "Chant like an Epistle", I could
probably use that as a basis for learning how to do it in that fashion. So
maybe I will practice a bit tomorrow since there is a high likelihood that I
will be reading it Sunday.
> Regardless of the particular [musical] style used
> for chanting various things, I think the style of
> chanting depends on what is being read -- almost
> like a "hierarchy". Chanting for OT readings and
> Psalms should be the least stylized (or simplest.)
> The Epistle and Prokeimenae should be more
> stylized, and then the Gospel should be the most
I've gathered that. We simply speak the OT and Psalm readings, so that is
fairly simple. Then as I said above, I've used a plain chant for Epistle
readings, trying not to make it too fancy so as not to end up approaching
the way our priest reads the Gospel.
> Some people I've talked to about this also feel
> that chanting in general should be less stylized
> during Great Lent.
That I haven't heard before, but it would seem to fit if one had the degrees
down to do it. Much to eventually learn here. :-)
Rdr. Timothy Copple
- Christ is risen!
Thank you, Reader Alexander, for your explanation. My priest told me that
since I am a tonsured Reader, I should wear my cassock at any church function.
I have been doing this in my former jurisdiction and my bishop has seen me in
cassock at banquets, presidential speech, picnics, etc. Every year I try to
attend the pilgrimage at St. Tikhon Monastery and I wear my cassock and the
abbott and rector saw me there the last two years in cassock and this year he
personally greeted me with "Christ is risen" as he was heading in the opposite
If I am not serving, I do not vest to receive Communion. My bishop has seen me
with the skufia outside and has not said anything yet. I generally put my
cassock on before I leave home and take it off when I arrive home. One reason
that I do this is to remind people that God is. If I can help turn one person
around, it would be well worth the less than minimum effort that I make. Last
week I took a big bag of clothes to church for shipment to Russia because my
neighbor across the street has seen me in cassock and when I approached her in
cassock and requested that she donate anything that does not sell in her yard
sale to the church, she was delighted to do so.
Alex Vallens wrote:
> jEver since I was a simple Altar server I have always seen the reader,--
> tonsured or not (male, of course), wear a Stikharion. However, it was
> not until well after becoming a Reader that I learned of the cassock and
> Stikharion. The signifigance of the Stikharion is clear, as this is the
> garment that the Bishop blesses the Reader to wear at his tonsuring. As
> such, it is reasonable to conclude that it should be worn whenever
> participating (i.e. performing the duties to which he is ordained) in
> the Divine services, and whenever receiving communion. This is
> comparable to priests and deacons required to wear, at the bear minimum,
> stoles (oraria or epitrachelia) and cuffs when doing the same.
> Furthermore, the cassock is the sign of the clergy. Although our bishop
> disagrees with this assesment, the canons state that ALL clergy must
> wear simple attire and proper liturgical dress (read: cassocks and
> vestments when appropriate). Therefore, I ALWAYS wear my cassock
> whenever in church, usually when on church grounds, and typically at
> church functions. Our bishop hasn't caught me on this regard, and has
> furthermore blessed me to wear the skufia outside of the Divine
> services, unless outdoors. Be forewarned, however, as your mileage may
> vary by individual community and jurisdiction.
> I hope this was not too boring, and at least partly helpful.
> Christ is Risen!
> Indeed He is Risen!
> With love in Our Risen Lord,
> Reader Alexander Vallens
Reader Michael J. Bishop
12 E Read St
Baltimore MD 21202-2459
Personal web site: http://www.Michael-Bishop.com and
E-mail for personal messages: Reader@... or
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Baltimore Orthodox web site: http://www.BaltimoreOrthodox.org
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