Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chanting in an Ecclesia according to the Church Fathers

Our psalmody should be angelic, not spiritual and secular. For to psalmodize with clamour and a loud voice is a sign of inner turbulence. St. Gregory of Sinai
The chanting that is done in churches is an entreaty towards God to be appeased for our sins. Whoever begs and prayerfully supplicates must have a humble and contrite manner; but to cry out manifests a manner that is audacious and irreverent. Canon LXXV of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod
Nothing so arouses the soul, gives it wings, sets it free from the earth, releases it from the prison of the body, teaches it to love wisdom and to despise all the things of this life, as concordant melody and sacred song composed in rhythm. St. John Chrysostom
Those who chant in the churches should refrain from forcing their nature to yell, but also from saying anything else that is unsuitable for the church. Canon LXXV of the Sixth Ecumenical Council
At all times, but most of all while chanting, let us be still and undistracted. For through distractions, the demons aim to ruin our prayer. St. John of the Ladder
A holy hymn gives birth to piety of soul, creates a good conscience, and is accepted by God in the treasuries of the heavens. St John Chrysostom
No one in chanting with a ready and eager mind will be blamed if he be weakened by old age, or young, or have a rough voice, or is altogether ignorant of rhythm. What is here sought for is a sober soul, an alert mind, a contrite heart, sound reason, and a clear conscience. If having these you have entered into God’s sacred choir, you may stand beside David himself. There is no need of zithers, nor of taut strings, not of a plectrum, nor skill, nor any instruments. But if you will, you can make yourself into a zither, mortifying the limbs of the flesh, and forming full harmony between body and soul. For when the flesh does not lust against the spirit, but yields to its commands, and perseveres along the path that is noble and admirable, you thus produce a spiritual melody. St. John Chrysostom, commentary of Psalm 41
Pray gently and calmly, sing with understanding and rhythm; then you will soar like a young eagle high in the heavens. Psalmody calms the passions and curbs the uncontrolled impulses in the body. Evagrios the Solitary
Oh, that blessed alleluia of heaven that the angels chant where God dwells! There, the harmony of those who hymn God with words and deeds is perfect! So let us take care to chant the alleluia with perseverance now, so that we will be counted worthy of chanting it with stillness then. Blessed Augustine

Sometimes singing in moderation successfully relieves the temper. But sometimes, if untimely and immoderate, it lends to the lure of pleasure. Let us then appoint definite times for this and so make good use of it. St. John of the Ladder
When pleasure predominates during psalmody, then through this pleasure we are brought down to passions of the flesh. St. Basil the Great
To recite the psalms with melody is not done from a desire for pleasing sound, but it is a manifestation of harmony among the thoughts of the soul. And melodious reading is a sign of the well-ordered and tranquil condition of the mind. St. Athanasius the Great
Quality in psalmody and prayer consists in praying with the spirit and the nous. One prays with the spirit only when as he prays and chants, he is attentive to the content of the Holy Writings, and thus raises his heart to divine thoughts. Nikitas Stithatos
When you worship God with hymns, you should be worshipping Him with your entire being;  your voice should sing; your heart should also sing; and your life should also sing. Everything should sing. Blessed Augustine
At all times, but most of all while chanting, let us be still and undistracted. For through distractions, the demons aim to ruin our prayer. St. John of the Ladder
Sing to God in love and humility of spirit, for the Lord rejoiceth therein. St. Silouan the Athonite
Just as the angels stand with great fear and chant their hymns to the Creator, likewise should we stand in psalmody. St. Ephraim the Syrian
Psalmody in a crowded congregation is accompanied by captivity and wandering of the thoughts; but in solitude, this does not happen. However, those in solitude are liable to be assailed by despondency, whereas in congregation the brethren help each other by their zeal. St. John of the Ladder
Sing to God, not with the voice, but with the heart; not, after the fashion of tragedians, in smearing the throat with a sweet drug, so that theatrical melodies and songs are heard in the church, but in fear, in work and in knowledge of the Scriptures. And although a man be cacophonous, if he have good works, he is a sweet singer before God. St. Jerome

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