St. Mark Of Ephesus Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church of America
261 Main Street, Kingston, Massachusetts 02364

Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and chant

the thrice-holy hymn unto the life-creating Trinity, now lay

aside all earthly cares. That we may recieve the King of all,

who comes invisibly upborne in triumph by the angelic hosts.

+The Cherubic Hymn of the Divine Liturgy


When chanters chant with the tongue and also with the mind,

they greatly benefit not only themselves but also those who

want to hear them. 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.

+St. Athanasios the Great


St. John Chrysostom writes, "When we sing church hymns, we must be careful that we do not pronounce only the words with our tongues while our hearts wander elswhere." Every hymn, every phrase, ever verse of the church service must be rendered clearly and fittingly. This requires singers who are inwardly committed not just to the music, but also, and primarily, to the Faith. The music of the Orthodox Church is an integral part of worship services. Choral music must add to the liturgy, not distract from the prayerful environment of worship. The Bishops and priests stand in the place of Christ in creating the Liturgy as "heaven on earth." They are the leaders and the ones who are celebrants of the mysteries of God, who is their Author. Those who sing represent the angels, who stand around His throne offering Him hymns of praise. St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians in his first letter suggests the Orthodox "phronema" for choir members in their role during divine services: "I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the mind." (1 Corinthians 14:15). First and foremost, then, choir members must evaluate themselves according to the following guidelines:

  • Take time to be spiritually focused before beginning a worship service.
  • Be on time and ready to sing when the service begins.
  • Concentrate on the worship service, actively participating by making the sign of the Cross, standing, reverencing, and praying whenever appropriate.
  • Learn about the structure and meaning of the various services and the changing cycles of the ecclesiastical year.
  • Understand the meaning of the hymns and their significance in the service.
  • Search for sprirtual meaning in everything you sing. Remember, "singing is believing."
  • Participate in the sacramental life of the church, such as recieving frequent communion.
  • Refrain from creating distractions, thus separating yourself and others from the worship experience.