Friday, February 03, 2006

My thoughts on tradition in the context of the Divine Liturgy, as posted on a BBS

There has been much talk of late about "fiddling" with our traditions, liturgical text,music and what not. On the Faith & Worship forum this was said in response to a question regarding the fasting regulations on Theophany eve.

Administrator wrote:

The problem created by moving the Vespers and Divine Liturgy from early in the day to the evening (thereby making it like the Roman Catholic “First Mass of Christmas (or Epiphany)”) is that the fasting and meal customs no longer make sense. Those taking Eucharist on the Eve of Christmas (or Theophany) would have simply fasted from everything (except water) from the time they woke until they took Eucharist. Then they would have their “Holy Supper”. With the Vespers and Divine Liturgy of St. Basil delayed until the evening, in many families the “Holy Supper” comes before Eucharist.

Followed by this:

We really ought not to be fiddling with our inheritance until we have an exact understanding of history. And we certainly must not make any move whatsoever without the rest of Byzantine Orthodoxy.

Part of our understanding of particular history is in the dialogue right here on this BBS and on the internet. How does the Orthodox Church do Theophany eve? How does our typicon advise? We are all free to do our own things in private, but the typicon is the normative instruction for the church.

If our "received tradition" was corrupted over the years and we wish to return to an "authentic" tradition, at what point looking back in time do we stop the clock and say "this is the 'correct' way."? To me, [opinion alert] vespers in the morning make no sense at all. What then was the compulsion for that original move to have vespers in the morning of the eve of Theophany? Mitigation of fasting??? Or was it always that way? [Confused]

With other posts on the Kliros forum regarding the proper music, translation, rubrics and debate over IEMC vs Levkulic texts I myself get somewhat frustrated. There are those whose strongly oppose the work of the IEMC/IELC and staunchly support text/music from Fr. Levkulic while others are supporters of the efforts of the IEMC/IELC. I have opinions pro and con for both.

This Theophany eve our parish used the Levkulic book which for the vespers half of the liturgy omitted the verses of Ps 140 after the music for "O Lord, I have cried..". That to me seems an innovation "fiddling" if it were put another way. Yet, here we are with some arguing that this is our tradition! So, when the IELC and IEMC publish revised material, they are "fiddling" according to others.

Also, I have questions about the "tradition" of priest/cantor&people vs cantor/people responses on the Troparion with verses in the priest-cantor ed of Theophany Vesper. In Levkulic the priest reads (recitando) the verse while the people repond in the prokimenon tone, whereas the IEMC version the people lead in the troparion tone, as indicated, with the verse SUNG by the cantor in the troparion tone!

Hmmmm, I have noticed other differences of this sort (between IEMC/Levkulic)with the Akathist Hymn arranged for being chanted almost entirely by the priests with the congregation singing the most simple responses in Levkulic.

Perhaps these were "innovations" of the time when there were fewer trained cantors who knew how to sing special services? Or perhaps priests who didn't trust cantors? Who knows.

These things seem to be much more recent than the changing of vesperliturgies to mornings of the eve of feasts but are nonetheless issues we face.

It is no secret that I have been in support of the IEMC, having been a student in the Metropolitan Cantor Institute program over the previous five years. I wouldn't have travelled so much if I didn't see some good coming from it. I find the material from the IEMC to be quite singable. I have watched the settings change and improve over time with the input from several cantors. At times am frustrated with the Levkulic (and even the 1965) arrangements of music with texts when compared to the more complex styles of the original settings in Bokshai/Ratsin/Papp. Even those editions had their shortcomings with copied transcription mistakes perpetuated for 100 years.


No comments: