Hymns of the Eastern Church

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Orthodox tend to view Protestant worship as being a show; something that professional worshippers perform as a service for the people. This runs counter to Orthodox theology, where Divine Liturgy is the common work of the people "on behalf of all and for all. It seems that Protestant worship is disconnected from its theology. It is acceptable to sing songs with little theological content and preach on any chosen topic.

Orthodox follow the Church calendar which prescribes what readings from scripture will occur and many aspects of liturgy will tie in to this "theme" or focus for each gathering. Everything in the service is united, and the Church calendar is designed to teach the entire Christian Orthodox faith to participants over time and then reinforce it.

It globally unites Orthodox believers because they can go to a different Orthodox church across the world and they will pick up where they left off. I know that in many Protestant churches, even if you go to the same "denomination" down the street it may be a different message and scripture verse being taught.


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In Orthodox Christianity this is not so - thus the churches are truly united in belief and practice. In the liturgy of the Church, the Bible and the Holy Tradition come alive and are given to the living experience of the Christian people. In addition to the living experience of the liturgy, the texts of the services and sacraments provide a written source of doctrine in that they may be studied and contemplated by one who desires an understanding of Christian teachings.

According to the common opinion of the Orthodox Church, the sacramental and liturgical texts—the hymns, blessings, prayers, symbols, and rituals—contain no formal errors or deformations of the Christian faith and can be trusted absolutely to reveal the genuine doctrine of the Orthodox Church. Concerning style, here is a source that says it well:. Eastern chant is almost always a cappella, and instrumental accompaniment is rare. The central form of chant in the Eastern Orthodoxy is Byzantine Chant , which is used to chant all forms of liturgical worship. Exceptions include the Coptic Orthodox tradition which makes use of the sistrum , and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which also uses drums, cymbals and other instruments on certain occasions.

The Orthodox Church has been reevaluating the role of music in worship as of late. One source says,. Byzantine music remains basically monophonic single-line unison singing. But part-singing appeared in Lvov and began to spread in Southern Russia and the Ukraine as early as the 15th Century. From this we can trace early experiments with harmonization, and in the 17th Century the influence of the Kievan schools of harmony on Moscow.

Choirs of sorts began to be schooled in the Imperial Court, although they sang in small groups and were made up of male singers only. The movement to introduce Western European harmonization and the chorale style spread very quickly, initiating the new period of concert-like choir singing.

Hymns of the Coptic Orthodox Church (Egypt)

Bortniansky, under the patronage of Catherine the Great, still remains the best example of the composer-conductors and their church choirs of the choral tradition. By the beginning of the 20th Century there was already a great interest among Church musicians to return to the traditional roots of the canonical chant systems. Kastalsky particularly stands out among them. While choral compositions and choir singing remain popular to this day, among serious students of Church music more and more is sacred singing looked upon as a discipline of liturgical theology rather than simply as a musical art.

This is particularly so in America, as we accept the responsibility for an Orthodox inculturation of a new land, a new language and a new people. As we attempt to find our own style in response to new needs and situations especially those of the small missions , above all we seek to be anchored to the great Tradition.

This great Tradition, however, insists neither on a rigid formalism nor a return to a hypothetically more primitive practice. There is room in Orthodox culture for both choir singing and congregational participation, for ancient chants and familiar harmonized works, as well as perhaps for new adaptations based on the timbre of the English language, developed from the local materials of our own particular time and place. Music in mass is an activity that participants share with others in the celebration of Jesus Christ.

Masses can be a cappella , for the human voice alone, or they can be accompanied by instrumental obbligatos up to and including a full orchestra.

Many masses, especially later ones, were never intended to be performed during the celebration of an actual mass. Generally, for a composition to be a full mass, it must contain the following invariable five sections, which together constitute the Ordinary of the Mass. The Requiem Mass is a modified version of the ordinary mass. Musical settings of the Requiem mass have a long tradition in Western music.

Hymns of the Eastern Church

In a liturgical mass, there are variable other sections that may be sung, often in Gregorian chant. These sections, the "proper" of the mass, change with the day and season according to the church calendar, or according to the special circumstances of the mass. The proper of the mass is usually not set to music in a mass itself, except in the case of a Requiem Mass , but may be the subject of motets or other musical compositions. The sections of the proper of the mass include the introit , gradual , Alleluia or Tract depending on the time of year , offertory and communion.

A carol is a festive song, generally religious but not necessarily connected with church worship, often having a popular character.

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Today the carol is represented almost exclusively by the Christmas carol , the Advent carol, and to a much lesser extent by the Easter carol. The tradition of Christmas carols goes back as far as the 13th century, although carols were originally communal songs sung during celebrations like harvest tide as well as Christmas. It was only in the late 18th and 19th centuries that carols began to be sung in church, and to be specifically associated with Christmas.

Traditionally, carols have often been based on medieval chord progressions, and it is this that gives them their characteristic sound. Some carols like "Personent hodie" and "Angels from the Realms of Glory" can be traced directly back to the Middle Ages , and are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. Carols suffered a decline in popularity after the Reformation in the countries where Protestant churches gained prominence although well-known Reformers like Martin Luther authored carols and encouraged their use in worship , but survived in rural communities until the revival of interest in carols in the 19th century.

Sears and Richard S. Thomas Aquinas , in the introduction to his commentary on the Psalms, defined the Christian hymn thus: " Hymnus est laus Dei cum cantico; canticum autem exultatio mentis de aeternis habita, prorumpens in vocem. The Greek hymn, Hail gladdening light was mentioned by Saint Basil around Latin hymns appear at around the same time, influenced by Saint Ambrose of Milan. Early Christian hymns are known as canticles and are often based on Biblical passages other than the psalms; they are still used in Catholic, Lutheran , Anglican and Methodist liturgy, examples are Te Deum and Benedicite.

Catholic hymnody in the Western church introduced four-part vocal harmony as the norm, adopting major and minor keys, and came to be led by organ and choir. The Protestant Reformation resulted in two conflicting attitudes to hymns. One approach, the regulative principle of worship , favoured by many Zwinglians, Calvinists and other radical reformers, considered anything that was not directly authorised by the Bible to be a novel and Catholic introduction to worship, which was to be rejected.

All hymns that were not direct quotations from the bible fell into this category. Such hymns were banned, along with any form of instrumental musical accompaniment, and organs were ripped out of churches. Instead of hymns, biblical psalms were chanted, most often without accompaniment.

This was known as exclusive psalmody. Examples of this may still be found in various places, including the "free churches" of western Scotland. The other Reformation approach, favoured by Martin Luther , produced a burst of hymn writing and congregational singing. Luther and his followers often used their hymns, or chorales, to teach tenets of the faith to worshipers. The earlier English writers tended to paraphrase biblical text, particularly Psalms ; Isaac Watts followed this tradition, but is also credited as having written the first English hymn which was not a direct paraphrase of Scripture.

Charles Wesley 's hymns spread Methodist theology , not only within Methodism, but in most Protestant churches.

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He developed a new focus: expressing one's personal feelings in the relationship with God as well as the simple worship seen in older hymns. The Methodist Revival of the 18th century created an explosion of hymn writing in Welsh, which continued into the first half of the 19th century. The Heretical Churches are self-supporting Churches in the countries in which they are situated. They are termed heretical on account of their revolt from the jurisdiction of Constantinople. They hold with the rest of the Church to the doctrine of the Nicene creed as drawn up at the first two Councils, but reject the decisions of the subsequent Councils.

The causes which gave rise to those so-called Heretical Churches are not a little interesting, but cannot be gone into here at any length. They may, however, be referred to as shewing the relation of the Churches of the East to the various Councils.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations

At these the doctrines accepted by Orthodox and Heretical Churches alike were distinctly expressed. But when to the decisions of those Councils there came to be added the decrees of succeeding Councils, certain Churches revolted. It was, however, only when theologians tried to make plain what was meant by the latter phrase, that it prickled with disputable points.

The differences of opinion emerging took two types. One of these so thoroughly divided the Divine from the human nature in Christ, as almost to destroy altogether any real union.


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  • Another insisted on an absorption of the human in the Divine, such as would disfigure both, and by that absorption create a distinct nature. The former, the separation of the natures, became the doctrine of the Churches of Chaldea, while the latter was adopted by the Churches of Egypt. The Nestorians in like manner accept the decrees of the first two Councils, and refuse to entertain the additions made by the latter Councils, characterising them as unwarranted alterations of, or additions to the findings of the first two Councils.

    The Monophysites accept the addition of Chalcedon and of all the Councils following it.

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    The third General Council, that of Ephesus, decreed that the title Theotokos God-bearer should be applied to the Virgin, and at the Council of Chalcedon this was repeated, affirming that Christ was born of the Theotokos, according to the manhood; the same Symbol affirming that two natures are to be acknowledged in Christ, and that they are indivisible and inseparable. Thus it was that the Nestorians repudiated the decrees alike of Ephesus and Chalcedon, by repudiating the term Theotokos and holding the duality of Christ's nature so as to lose sight of the unity of His Person.

    There was nothing for it, therefore, but to separate from the Greek Church orthodox , and in separation from that Church they became most extensive and powerful. At the Council of Chalcedon, the fourth General Council, the now widely acknowledged doctrine in all the Churches of the West, as also in the Orthodox Greek Church, was declared, that Christ was to be acknowledged in two natures. The Monophysites--those who held by the one nature theory--revolted, and gave rise to many sects, and to three Churches--the Coptic Church of Egypt, the Abyssinian Church, and the Jacobite Church of Syria.

    Jacobus Baradaeus, an eminent Syrian theologian, who rejected all decisions of Councils subsequent to Constantinople, A. The Armenian Church is in much the same position; but it has been termed even more heretical than the Jacobite, a very erroneous charge against a Church which is really orthodox.