When I walk into my Greek Orthodox Church on any given Sunday service, I am greeted by the sound of the past—florid melodies backed only by the single-note drone of another chanter. The exotic sounding notes echo in the cavernous cathedral as incense lightly stings my nose. Suddenly, from out of nowhere booms an organ, plunking out a major chord for the slightly out of tune choir that begins to sing in harmony. These two types of liturgical music seem to be at complete odds with one another, and yet, each holds a significant place in the Greek Orthodox tradition. However, their relationship is not always easy—the rapport between choirs and chanters is often tense, stemming from a conflict over orthopraxy. Church musicians are separated by what they believe to be the ‘correct’ music of the Church, pitting the Byzantine purists against choral enthusiasts. The Byzantine purists believe that as the original music of worship in the Greek Orthodox Church, Byzantine music is obviously more authentic to the experience of the Orthodox Christian. Choral enthusiasts, on the other hand, grew up hearing harmonized music in Greek Orthodox parishes of the United States, and thus reject the notion that Byzantine chant should have dominance.
Religions; Religions -- Philosophy; Religions -- History
Relics, Remnants, and Religion: an Undergraduate Journal in Religious Studies
The University of Puget Sound
"Becoming Byzantine: Modernization and Tradition in the Liturgical Music of the Greek Orthodox Church,"
Relics, Remnants, and Religion: An Undergraduate Journal in Religious Studies: Vol. 3
, Article 4.
Available at: https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/relics/vol3/iss1/4