Revista Studii Teologice


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Dimensiunea teologică şi duhovnicească a cântării liturgice (bizantine) în Biserica Ortodoxă

Autor(i): Zaharia Matei
The study entitled „The theological and spiritual dimension of liturgical (Byzantine) chant in the Orthodox Church” has a threefold structure: 1. Liturgical chant understood as theological experience, 2. The role of liturgical chant in the view of the Church Fathers, and 3. The position of the Church Fathers on lay music. As early as the introductory paragraphs, the author emphasizes the role of chanting in the early Christian Church worship, as a liturgical manifestation appropriate for the Saviour’s Gospel, which constitutes a way of tightening the Christians’ communion and of glorifying God, as well as confessing and strengthening the true faith.
Following the course of chanting, from the religious ceremony of the Holy Temple, to continue with the period after the Lord’s Ascension and then reach the Byzantine age, the present study asserts the liturgical chant’s development due to hymnographers and melodists, who introduce novel hymnographic genres with poetic and theological contents, intended to counter the spread of heretical teachings. During the same period, church chanting acquires new manners of performing, such as antiphonic, or alternating, chanting or the responsorial one.
The present study aims at emphasizing the theological and spiritual sense of liturgical chanting, as well as its importance in Christians’ spiritual life.
In the first part of the study, the subchapters The word as instrument of expression in the divine worship, and The word-melody symbiosis in liturgical chant, broach the relationship between word as a means of expression, a manifestation of man’s rational, thinking side, and tune as a form of expression in worship, which clothes the holy words. Due to its outstandingly poetical character and emotional load, the chant addresses both spiritual life and the discourse on God, thus constituting one of the liturgical ways of placing the word in the service of Christian theology.
The wording and tune must achieve perfect balance, and mutually determine each other, and as such – the author cautions – any exaggeration in the melodic aspect becomes uncanonical, that is in disagreement with the principles of church chanting as established by the Holy Fathers and so, implicitly, this „deviant” performance contradicts the norms that prescribe sobriety in singing.
The focus of the second part of the study is the patristic argumentation on the instrumental role held by chanting within the divine service, both in order to convey the God-revealed truth, and to create a proper atmosphere for praying; chanting is the most effective means for the spiritual elevation of the worshippers, and for the consolidation of their unity of faith in Christ. Thus, St. Basil the Great as well as St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Ambrosius of Milan stress the role of psalmody in memorizing the teachings inspired by the Holy Spirit. Truths of faith are more easily remembered, for the language employed is the analogical and symbolical one.
Finally, the theological analysis dwells on the position of Church Fathers on lay music. This attitude was manifest in their establishing of rules intended to educate and perfect the worshippers’ conduct in churches, as well as in the endeavour to spiritualize the music originating from the Greek cultural realm, which they aimed to adapt to the Church’s spirit and bring closer to the psalm singing. The distinctive traits of their outlook on church chanting are the spirit of humility, piety, sincerity and morality in singing, meant to counter the theatrical, solely artistic character of lay music, and to pursue the sobriety that stems from the understanding of the liturgy as the mystic sacrifice of Christ, Who offers Himself to the faithful.

Pagini: 85-116