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[ustav] Re: the move to congregational singing

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  • MatElizbth@aol.com
    In a message dated 6/2/99 8:09:30 PM US Eastern Standard Time, ... We ve had and continue to have good experience with the congregation singing the troparion
    Message 1 of 10 , Jun 2 8:34 PM
      In a message dated 6/2/99 8:09:30 PM US Eastern Standard Time,
      mmalloy@...-state.edu writes:

      >
      > Has anyone had experience with congregational singing of the often repeated
      > troparia? I'm speaking of the Resurrectional tropars from the Oktoik and
      > the tropar for the Saint of the parish/temple

      We've had and continue to have good experience with the congregation singing
      the troparion for the Saint of the temple (St. Nicholas). Some parishioners
      have learned the Resurrectional Troparia as well. We have always encouraged
      congregational singing and, little by little (over the years), the
      congregation has joined in. In my limited experience of being in a parish
      with a small choir, I have come to realize, that for us, it is best to be
      consistent. This may mean that the music usually doesn't vary much. But,
      it is helpful in encouraging congregational singing.

      Matushka Elizabeth Huneycutt
      St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
      Fletcher, NC

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    • Timothy Copple
      ... FWIW, here are my meger thoughts/comments/suggestions. It seems you may have tried to make this whole change at one gulp. I would do it bit by bit,
      Message 2 of 10 , Jun 3 8:01 AM
        At 05:09 PM 6/2/99 -0400, Janet wrote:

        >I'd like some opinions and practical experience on the following:
        >
        >Our priest and parish want to try "congregational singing". This thought
        >has been kicked around now for a about 6 months. back then I thought a
        >good way to get people more involved in singing (they don't want to join
        >the choir - it's too much of a commitment) would be to sing basically the
        >same music for every sunday divine liturgy. I scaled back the selections
        >of cherubicon from 14 to 4. Everything else though, is pretty much the
        >same week to week to week except for, obviously, the prokeimena,
        >troparia, kontakia, and other "changeable" things (for instance, singing,
        >"as many who have been baptised....." when appropriate.
        >
        >Trying to sing basically the same music week after week (for non-Sunday
        >liturgies we'll do some things a little different) has not really
        >encouraged any more congregational participation, and actually has caused
        >a little stir in the choir (why can't we sing.............. like we used
        >to?)
        >

        FWIW, here are my meger thoughts/comments/suggestions.

        It seems you may have tried to make this whole change at one gulp. I would
        do it bit by bit, starting with the standard congregational responses that
        have been mentioned to petitions, blessing by the clergy, etc. Put it all
        in a book which provides the order for the liturgy and the music you will
        use for the responses. If the choir is separate from the people, like way
        in back in their own little loft or something, they will need to move where
        they are near the people though I would not necessarily scatter them among
        the congregation. You need to have a unified core group that sings strongly
        and scattering might destroy that. But, people in the congregation are not
        likely to sing if they feel like they are singing a solo, so the singing
        needs to be going on "around" them rather than somewhere behind them if
        they are to feel comfortable joining in. I would also do this in stages.
        Select what your standard "Lord have mercy" response will be and have the
        choir sing that regularly, only changing it when liturgically necessary
        (like for Lent). Once everyone is use to that, then introduce the books and
        move the choir closer.


        Then, you can gradually introduce standard troparia and patron saint
        troparia, etc. to the congregation's binder after the choir has sung it
        enough and gradually, if you don't change frequently, the congregation will
        pick up on it. Also, don't expect this to happen overnight. Even when you
        have binders for everyone with the music in it and the choir with the
        congregation, it may take a while for people to feel comfortable and begin
        to join in. And I would add not to worry too much about how many are
        singing. The whole object is to worship God anyway. Some may feel that
        singing adds to their worship and some may feel that trying to sing
        detracts from their worship. IOW, don't make it such a critical goal that
        it over rides the real goals of meeting together as the Body.

        >So now, after 6 months I see that didn't work and my next step is going
        >to be to make "congregational song books" for the congregation. and to
        >"release" the choir from standing together and send them back into the
        >congregation with the "song books" so they can sing from wherever they
        >want.
        >
        >Has anyone had success with congregational singing? I've seen it both
        >succeed and fail. I've seen it fail when no one is leading, when its
        >impossible to get the pitch from the clergy, and no one knows when to
        >start singing, for example: Let us pray to the Lord................(long
        >pause)............l-l-l-l-l-l-lord have mercy?
        >
        >I've seen it succeed when a little group is gathered up front, but not
        >separate like a choir, and that little group is leading, with the rest of

        >the people falling in to the best of their ability.
        >

        Our mission started off singing congregationally. Partly out of necessity
        (when they were starting out) and partly because of a conviction by those
        who began it to keep it that way. Our choir is toward the right front of
        our Nave. It is small enough space that the congregation stands all around
        us. Usually the only thing that choir sings by themselves is the inserted
        music that the congregation would not have the opportunity to learn. We
        have a standard set for the Trasagion and the Cheribumic Hymn that we
        rotate every few months. Every once in a while we will add in a new
        version, and for several Sundays it will just be the choir singing it, but
        the music is in the congregation's binders and they usually pick it up in a
        few weeks and it is not long before most people don't even have to look at
        their music to sing it. Those who want to and can join in. We currently run
        around 80 to 100 people at our liturgies.

        >Something about the "congregational" model bothers me in that we have
        >such a flood of beautiful music that we'll never sing again.
        >

        That is what we felt like coming from our Protestant tradition into
        Orthodoxy. :-)

        However, even the more difficult pieces, if they are used for an extended
        period of time, can be picked up by the congregation if they have the music
        in front of them. The version of the Cheribumic Hymn we are using now is
        not easy, and took a bit for the choir to learn, but now it all seems
        second nature and most of us don't even need to look at the music.
        Repetition is a great Orthodox teacher!

        I should add, that our parish started out that way and it is a lot harder
        to change things that have been in place for a period of time. The priest
        and people involved will have to decide whether proposed changes are
        beneficial or will cause more problems than it will solve. In whatever
        case, introduce such changes slowly and in biteable chunks and don't expect
        any immediate results. Those are my only suggestions at any rate. Take them
        for what they are worth.



        Rd. Timothy Copple


        http://www.RLCData.com

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      • Fr. Michael Spainhoward
        The small mission to which I was assigned nearly two years ago had a 12 year custom of congregation singing. The average attendance was about 35 on Sunday
        Message 3 of 10 , Jun 3 8:52 AM
          The small mission to which I was assigned nearly two years ago had a 12
          year "custom" of congregation singing. The average attendance was about
          35 on Sunday and zero for any other day and time. The former priest and
          a couple of laymen put together a "liturgy/song book" for the worshippers
          to use. It contained the liturgical texts, the material from the Sunday
          Octoik, the Resurrection troparia and kontakia, the festal alternatives
          to the "Holy God...", the temple tropar, and few other tid-bits. The
          books were used with some success and the people were comfortable with
          them.

          When I arrived, we continued the custom. When I began to introduce such
          things as the Beatitude verses, the singing of Psalm 33, the other
          troparia and kontakia from the menaion, and other "stuff" (as the former
          priest called it), they people wanted the text in their hands so they
          could sing them. I tried to accommodate them and very soon saw that such
          would be a very expensive and daunting task. I then formed a choir.

          The choir was not welcomed warmly by the people and for almost six months
          there were many complaints but we stuck with it. Today, they would not
          be without the choir.

          Today the people sing along with what they know. The choir leads them in
          the familiar pieces. The choir has introduced them to variant settings
          of liturgical texts, to the beauty of harmony, and to the furthering of
          their knowledge and understanding of our Faith by being able to offer the
          fullness of the liturgy.

          I would not break-up my choir to "seed" the congregation. Where a choir
          exists, I would let such worshippers sing as they are able. Where a
          choir does not exist, I would make it a goal to establish one.

          BWDIK,

          In His Love,
          Fr. Michael

          ----------
          > From: damianj@...
          > To: ustav@egroups.com
          > Subject: [ustav] Re: the move to congregational singing
          > Date: Wednesday, June 02, 1999 2:09 PM
          >
          > I'd like some opinions and practical experience on the following:
          >
          > Our priest and parish want to try "congregational singing". This
          thought
          > has been kicked around now for a about 6 months. back then I thought a
          > good way to get people more involved in singing (they don't want to
          join
          > the choir - it's too much of a commitment) would be to sing basically
          the
          > same music for every sunday divine liturgy. I scaled back the
          selections
          > of cherubicon from 14 to 4. Everything else though, is pretty much the
          > same week to week to week except for, obviously, the prokeimena,
          > troparia, kontakia, and other "changeable" things (for instance,
          singing,
          > "as many who have been baptised....." when appropriate.
          >
          > Trying to sing basically the same music week after week (for non-Sunday
          > liturgies we'll do some things a little different) has not really
          > encouraged any more congregational participation, and actually has
          caused
          > a little stir in the choir (why can't we sing.............. like we
          used
          > to?)
          >
          > So now, after 6 months I see that didn't work and my next step is going
          > to be to make "congregational song books" for the congregation. and to
          > "release" the choir from standing together and send them back into the
          > congregation with the "song books" so they can sing from wherever they
          > want.
          >
          > Has anyone had success with congregational singing? I've seen it both
          > succeed and fail. I've seen it fail when no one is leading, when its
          > impossible to get the pitch from the clergy, and no one knows when to
          > start singing, for example: Let us pray to the
          Lord................(long
          > pause)............l-l-l-l-l-l-lord have mercy?
          >
          > I've seen it succeed when a little group is gathered up front, but not
          > separate like a choir, and that little group is leading, with the rest
          of
          > the people falling in to the best of their ability.
          >
          > Something about the "congregational" model bothers me in that we have
          > such a flood of beautiful music that we'll never sing again.
          >
          > (btw, our parish has about 175 attendance on any given Sunday with an
          > average of 20+ in the choir).
          >
          > I'd love any and all opinions on this.
          >
          > thanks so much!
          >
          > janet
          >
          >
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        • mark bailey
          Message 4 of 10 , Jun 3 10:52 AM
          • Bishop Tikhon
            Father Pimen Simon wrote a most interesting message on the topic. I feel that much of what he wrote, with few alterations, would apply to official Russian
            Message 5 of 10 , Jun 3 6:34 PM
              Father Pimen Simon wrote a most interesting message on the topic.
              I feel that much of what he wrote, with few alterations, would apply to
              "official" Russian Orthodoxy as well.

              I believe it is incorrect to characterize "It is truly meet" as any sort of
              "processional." As far as I am aware, there really are no such
              "processionals" at all in our Church, save those in the process called
              "Cross Procession", i.e., the circuiting of a Church that happens during
              Passion Week and as prelude to Paschal Matins, and the same circuiting of
              the Church during the Parish Feastday Molieben.

              "It is truly meet" is sometimes entitled "Vkhodno'e" on sheets of music.
              However, that "Vkhodno'e" has nothing to do with procession, but with
              Entrance, thus, "vkhodny'e molitvy" are just Entrance Prayers. And
              "Vkhodno'e" after "Wisdom! Attend!" at Divine Liturgy refers to the
              Entrance sentence.

              Let's take such a standard reference as Fr. Rostislav Gan's (or Han's)
              "Hymnography of All-Night Vigil and Liturgy: with rubrical remarks."
              (P'esnop'eni'a Vsenoshchnago Bdeni'a i Liturgi'i s ustavnymi ukazani'ami).
              Here is how Fr. Rostislav characterizes the Entrance of an Hierarch in the
              section called: "Meeting" in the Division called "Directions for Sacred-
              and Church-Servitors at an Hierarchical Serving of the Liturgy of Saint
              John Chrysostom."

              "Meeting"....The Hierarch, entering the Temple, stands on the Eagle, the
              Sacristan at his place together with the other Priests, and all pray three
              times, bowing to the Hierarch, who blesses them. The Singers sing first:
              "From the rising of the sun," and then "Meet it is in truth", "kosno" (this
              word as used in the Typikon usually indicates singing to a melody rather
              than psalmodizing) and melodiously. The Protodeacon says: "Wisdom!" and
              reads "More honorable than the Cherubim", "Glory"...."Both now".."Lord,
              have mercy," 3 times, Very Most Reverend Vladyka, bless"..."Amen",
              according to the exclamations of the Hierarch: "Most Holy Theotokos, save
              us, Glory to thee, O Christ God, our hope, May Christ our true God..."
              During this time the Subdeacons are placing the manti'a on the Hierarch,
              and so forth.

              May I add that in the Rubrical Instructions for Hierarchical Liturgy
              published by Patriarch Pimen in a booklet, there is the added instruction
              to the choir that they keep singing "Meet it is in truth" until the
              Hierarch has *completed* the Entrance Prayers in their entirety and is
              ready to bless the People from the Soleas, i.e, if they finish singing it
              once, and the Hierarch is still praying, then they have to start over, etc.
              There is no instruction to sing anything while anyone "proceeds" (or, in
              Awful English "processes" something I had always thought until traveling
              "Back East" applied only to meat!)
              Therefore, it may be said quite accurately that "Meet it is in truth" here
              is not a processional at all, but an echoing by the choir of what the
              clergy are praying. I believe this was also Father Pimen's point in his
              reference to the regular beginning of any prayer sequence including the
              entrance of an Hierarch.

              One may hear this process very plainly on the old Paris recording (Spassky)
              of selections from the Hierarchical Liturgy, Passion Week and Pascha,
              except that on that record, it is the Hierarch that Exclaims "Wisdom. Most
              Holy Theotokos save us!" and the Protodeacon begins to intone "It is truly
              meet." followed almost immediately by the Choir singing the same.

              There is also no processional at a Marriage. Not even that Psalm chanted by
              Priest and Choir (or Deacon and Choir) with the refrain" Glory to Thee, Our
              God, Glory to Thee". In fact, upon the conclusion of the service of the
              Putting on of Rings, The Priest utters the first verse of the Psalm, and
              the choir begins to respond repetitiously, "Glory to Thee..." and then he
              and the Bridal party go to the table in the center of the Church. The
              Priest (or the Deacon) takes the Censer and censes around the
              Tble/Analogion where the Gospel lies, crosswise, and then does a complete
              "local" censing: Altar, Iconostasis, and People/Temple from the Amvon, all
              the while chanting the Psalm verses, and returns to the stand on his place
              and ask the questions. The experienced Priest knows how to space the verses
              so that they last throughout the censing and conclude at the final censing
              before the Gospel.

              As for "Come forth, come forth" (Gr'adi, gr'adi) sung when the Bride
              appears at the Western Doors of the Church, that is merely a kind of
              exclamatory verse announcing her arrival, and not something meant to
              accompany her steps to the waiting groom, while the rest of the party lines
              up according to the customs of the parish near the west end of the nave,
              for the Ring Ceremony.

              Love,
              +B.T.


              I should add here that I am aware of the (to me completely untenable)
              reasoning of some that censing is for funerals and panikhidas and their
              practice that one should not cense at all at Weddings, let alone during
              that Psalm or before the Gospel; however, a moment's reflection reveals
              that one of the very most joyful moments in Orthodox liturgical life is the
              singing of the Paschal Canon at Paschla Matins at Midnight on Pascha, when
              the censer is just about constantly in motion!

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            • Isaac E. Lambertsen
              Dear Ustav listers, Apropos congregational singing, the renowned Prof. Ivan von Gardner wrote two substantial articles on this question, which I translated
              Message 6 of 10 , Jun 3 7:15 PM
                Dear Ustav listers,

                Apropos congregational singing, the renowned Prof. Ivan von Gardner wrote
                two substantial articles on this question, which I translated some years ago
                for one of the Church Music Conferences (they originally appeared in
                Russian, in the newspaper "Pravoslavnaya Rus'", published by Holy Trinity
                Monastery, in Jordanville, NY). My translation of these two articles was
                published by the St. John of Kronstadt Press and is, I feel certain, still
                in print. I recommend them as embodying the reasoned thoughts of one of the
                premier scholars of liturgical singing, whose opinion on such a matter is
                ignored at one's peril.

                When Prof. von Gardner travelled in Carpatho-Russia in the time between the
                two World Wars, he was overwhelmed by the congregational singing he heard in
                the churches of that region, which he describes in fulsome terms.

                He also describes how parts of the divine services were chanted
                congregationally in the main church of the Russian diaspora in Serbia, and
                offers suggestions as to which portions might most effectively be sung
                congregationally in any given parish.

                I urge you all to try to obtain copies of this booklet. The SJKP's phone
                number is (615) 536-5239. Their e-mail address is: agape@...

                Sincerely,

                Isaac Lambertsen.

                ----------
                >From: mark bailey <mark.bailey@...>
                >To: ustav@egroups.com
                >Subject: [ustav] Re: Congregational singing
                >Date: Thu, Jun 3, 1999, 1:52 PM
                >

                > Dear Janet and Ustav-list Readers,
                >
                > May I recommend to you and to others interested in congregational singing
                > my article entitled "The Ministry and Song of the Liturgical Assembly,"
                > Jacob's Well (Spring/Summer 1998), 26-30. I not only survey the principles
                > of congregational singing in Orthodox tradition but offer step by step
                > suggestions which address many of your questions. Unfortunately, the
                > article is not available on-line, but I'm sure Jacob's Well has back issues
                > available. You may wish to contact them at: JacWell@...
                >
                > Let me make a few brief points as a prelude to the article:
                >
                > 1. The main problem with this topic is that often parish communities and
                > musical leaders re- invent (and therefore unnecessarily re-shape) what is
                > already addressed within Orthodox liturgical tradition. There are several
                > well-established models for congregational participation which should be
                > taken into account, so as to unearth the liturgical principles which
                > inspired this ancient practice in the first place. Fr. Shaw's excellent
                > posting alluded to this. I appreciate Janet's posting, therefore -- it is
                > clear that she realizes a lot of homework has to be done first before
                > instituting change.
                >
                > 2. Concern for congregational singing should focus on returning to the
                > faithful their role or ministry as liturgical respondents. Often, the
                > congregation is given the liturgical opportunity to punctuate prayer by
                > responding to it and affirming it. Therefore, I propose the first thing the
                > congregation should learn to sing is "Amen." It is the audible
                > manifestation of the congregation's presence and engagement in worship. One
                > liturgical component will not move to the next unless the people sing
                > "Amen." What follows then are, as Fr. Shaw recommends, the short responses;
                > these were originally designed for the people i.e. as the liturgies
                > attributed to St. John and St. Basil took form, they assumed congregational
                > participation at this level. Next are antiphonal refrains which follow
                > verses e.g. the prokeimenon before the epistle and the Alleluia before the
                > Gospel etc. [the right music must be in use for this to work, of course].
                >
                > 3. The choir or cantors have an equally important ministry: to lead the
                > congregation in their singing and also to prepare and execute by themselves
                > those special texts and settings which change from week to week, feast to
                > feast, day to day e.g. festal stichera, psalm verses, irmoi and troparia of
                > Matins canons etc. The choir or cantors and the congregation form a
                > liturgical partnership, which is most evident in the singing of
                > responsorial antiphons: the cantor sings the opening few words of the first
                > verse to inform the assembly of the psalm that is to be sung (e.g. "Lord, I
                > call upon Thee"). Then the cantor follows immediately by singing (read:
                > teaching) the refrain to the assembly ("Hear Me, O Lord"). Then the cantor
                > sings the full first verse, and the assembly responds (verse: "Lord, I
                > call...receive the voice of my prayer...Thee." refrain: "Hear me, O Lord").
                > And so on. [Note: the Obikhod manner of singing "Lord I call..." preserves
                > these textual elements, but not their functions. Rather, we combine
                > introduction and actual text as if they comprised a unified hymn]. This
                > formula, when done properly, makes passing out music unnecessarily, since
                > the refrain is taught orally.
                >
                > To disperse the choir among the others simply turns the congregation into a
                > choir, and the essential partnership is lost. Ancient Christian liturgy, as
                > a ceremonial structure, evolved out of the principle of "dialogue." The
                > Anaphora is the centerpiece dialogue; every responsorial antiphon is a
                > dialogue; every litany as well. The idea of dialogue then implies various
                > people performing various roles or aspects of liturgical ministry through
                > the sung word, so that the dialogue is achieved.
                >
                > I submit, therefore, that most problems of congregational singing are
                > answered, not just in our liturgical tradition, but in liturgy itself. My
                > experience, sadly, has been that most people innocently and with the best
                > of intentions impose their ideas on liturgy, rather than seek what liturgy
                > already says about itself in its content and structure. This, again, is why
                > I appreciate someone like Janet who raises these issues for discussion
                > before hand. And again, I attempt to address the details of choosing the
                > right kind of music etc. in my aforementioned article.
                >
                > Mark Bailey

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