Reader John David and Emily L. are sharing the role of Protopsalti. Both are converts to the Orthodox faith.
Chanting provides the congregation with a particular manner of worship. It also provides the chanter with a way of serving God and the community. In particular, the ministry of chanting —the study, the practice, and the singing— gives to the chanter a means of spiritual formation and growth, a path to humility, and an increasing knowledge of theology.
If you would like to minister to the parish or deepen your own faith through chant, or if you have any questions or comments, please contact Reader John David or Emily.
Byzantine Chant: History and Theory
It is the divinely bestowed privilege of the Saints to sing praises to the Holy Trinity, and to extol the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Throughout Scripture and the history of Divine salvation, even to the present day, the people of God have expressed the inner reality of the Divine encounter by means of song. Where mere written words fail to portray fully the truth of the mystery of faith, the Church has employed sacred hymnology to be, as it were, an icon of song and verse, expressing clearly the truth in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"Properly understood [chant] is not a local ethnic musical style, but rather the living embodiment of a timeless and profoundly theological proclamation of the Orthodox faith…"The music of the Church, therefore, should not be considered as one might consider other forms of music, whether classical or contemporary. This music requires in us a longing to know God and to possess a desire to behold Him portrayed in our song. It requires that we be true to Christ, for in singing and chanting we become witnesses (martyrs) to the truth. Likewise, we err if we approach Orthodox hymnology simply as a science, seeking only to know technique, formulae and method. If this is our outlook we will certainly miss the heart of what it has to offer. Let us rather approach it in faith and in love, as an outgrowth of our service for our Lord, knowing that it is the Holy Spirit who inspires these poems and songs of the Church, to the glory of Jesus Christ.
The fundamental inspiration for this recording is the thesis that the inner reality of Byzantine music is neither Greek nor oriental. Properly understood it is not a local ethnic musical style, but rather the living embodiment of a timeless and profoundly theological proclamation of the Orthodox faith. With its roots deep in Christian antiquity, it may be legitimately viewed as a part of Holy Tradition, uncorrupted by the Western captivity which has so often distorted other artistic expressions of Orthodoxy, both musical and iconographic. It poses a universality, which allow it to surmount any narrow boundaries of nationality or language.
More information on Byzantine Chant, as well as inspirational quotes and an explanation of the Eight Tones can be found on our Byzantine Chant page.
*Sample Byzantine chant is Prokeimenon 3, Have Mercy, sung by Fr. Apostolos Hill on the CD Gates of Repentence.