Shortening Church Services??

Timos

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Sunday school season is now over for many parishes including mine, so today many sunday school kids were either not there and the few who were seemed to be having a really hard time in church (which I believe is due to the stupid system of having sunday school from right after the gospel to before communion time).

So would it be wrong o have church services shortened?
The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is already shortened as it is because the priest is usually scrambling to finish the "private" prayers while the chanters are singing---which at one point, I've read these prayers were read/chanted aloud by the priest..

So would it be permissible to say cut out the repetitive litanies? I love the liturgy the way it is, but the way things are going, I'd say we need to do this, add some more english, or else lose all the people.

We start liturgy @ 10 sunday mornings and end by 12 if we're lucky, but with memorials it can go into 12.15-12.30 noon. I just love how Catholics have daily mass which last 45 minutes o an hour so you can still pray and get communion throughout the week but don't have to stay for very long. Again I love liturgy but it would be so much more practical if on weekdays, it could just be 45 minutes and you're out.

Does this border on sacrelige?...and I consider myself pretty traditional- my issue is not with the time spent in church (esp. on weekdays) or the content, it's with the consequences. I know so many people who'd come to liturgy every morning before work or school if it was not too long.
 

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Timos said:
We start liturgy @ 10 sunday mornings and end by 12 if we're lucky, but with memorials it can go into 12.15-12.30 noon. I just love how Catholics have daily mass which last 45 minutes o an hour so you can still pray and get communion throughout the week but don't have to stay for very long. Again I love liturgy but it would be so much more practical if on weekdays, it could just be 45 minutes and you're out.
I know what you mean, and especially if your standing, it can take a tole on you. Unfortunately, I cant see any way of shortening it. Like at serbian churches, people are beginning to show up late, at 11 so they only have to stay for an hour.
 

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I think that the entire liturgical service may need some form of reform, from the liturgical texts used themselves to the style and type of music applied...it just seems that while theological trends in the church may have made enormous advances in the 20th century much of the liturgical tradition has remained more or less static...the texts being limited to the Christological controversies of the early centuries and for the most part representing a creedal statement of the church's position on many of these views...

I believe that current trends in theology need to be codified into the liturgy somehow in much the same way as it was done in earlier centuries, else we remain at risk of losing many of the precious gems that have been uncovered in recent times...

Also, just as the cultural tools of the time were used to promulgate the faith so should the modern church reflect a culturally sensitive attitude in all aspects of her worship...
 

chris

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Timos said:
We start liturgy @ 10 sunday mornings and end by 12 if we're lucky, but with memorials it can go into 12.15-12.30 noon. I just love how Catholics have daily mass which last 45 minutes o an hour so you can still pray and get communion throughout the week but don't have to stay for very long. Again I love liturgy but it would be so much more practical if on weekdays, it could just be 45 minutes and you're out.
I guess I'm trying to determine why it takes so long for your priest to complete the Liturgy. This morning, our GOA DL started at 9:30 and was over, including the sermon and a memorial, by 11:15. The Gospel, Lord's Prayer, and Creed were done in both languages, but the vast majority of it (90%) was in English, which in my experience seems to take longer to complete than Greek!

One priest told me that, within the GOA, the Archdiocese once had a directive that a Liturgy of St. John Crysostom should take between 1 hour 5 minutes and 1 hour 15 minutes to complete, including the sermon but not including memorials, artoklasia, etc. Perhaps the priest may have been mistaken regarding the Archdiocesan directive, but he absolutely kept the Liturgies he celebrated to those time guidelines, and in Greek he was able to complete the Liturgy basically in an hour.

Are there many people receiving the Eucharist? If so, what a blessing! Would having more deacons or priests help reduce the time for the Eucharist distribution?

Does your priest repeat a lot of the Liturgy in different languages? Chant slowly?

And, btw---I am not in favor of 'adjusting' our services. They can be completed with alacrity and IMO shortening the service to accommodate the needs of some parishioners to get out of Church more quickly is just a non-starter.

Also, just as there are no new heresies, we should not adjust the language of the Liturgy because the 'Christological controversies are not present nowadays' is not an accurate statement, especially when looking at some of the various sects out there nowadays.

However, possibly new hymns could be developed that may be introduced into Orthros or whatever that may decry things like The Da Vinci Code as long as this introduction was done properly and not independant of our hierarchs.

I think a better method to educate would be to conduct a class for the adult learners in the evening to debunk this claptrap, and continue to hold these meetings on a regular basis so the adult parishioners can get the information they need from the Church addressing their current issues instead of tinkering with the Liturgy.

It would be cool to see which Church hymns actually debunk the lies put forth in The Da Vinci Code and use them in your class. That may help to get increased attendance at Vespers/Orthros when people see that these services will help answer their questions....

But, I'm an idealist!
 

Anastasios

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Timos,

The minute you change the liturgy, you will have a response of what happened in the RCC after that 45 minute Mass you mentioned was introduced: nearly everyone stopped going to church! Please don't confuse more English with changing services. More English is fine, changing the Tradition of the Church is not.  Also, one can shorten the service by singing faster and executing the liturgical actions more quickly--you would be surprised how much poor liturgical celebration can lengthen a service.  I think an hour and a half is a good amount of time for Divine Liturgy.

Falafel,

I am totally opposed to what you suggest because I believe it would wreck Orthodoxy. People convert to Orthodoxy precisely because it does not have the developments you cite. I am not sure what theological advances you speak of anyway--perhaps Schmemann or Bulgakov?  I'm just asking as I don't see this idea of "progress" as something that can be defined, grasped, studied, and implemented as something that is consonant with the prior liturgical development of the Church.  Orthodox liturgy does develop, but in its own way in response to genuine need, not by liturgical comittees revising texts to meet the latest theological whims or trends.  I'm sorry if I sound harsh but after having been in a Church that does precisely the things you mention and seeing how badly such attempts fail, I am worried that this might spread into Orthodoxy.  I also simply don't have any desire to see anything about Orthodox liturgy change.

I personally find Orthodox music to be wonderful but I admit some find it strange.  Music per se could develop but again it would have to be a practical and natural development for it to be Orthodox.  At any rate, I think the way to renew Orthodoxy is to cut out the ethnocentrism by introducing more vernacular, have more outreach, better preaching that is focused on the gospel passage of the day and not just some topical sermon or worse yet, stories and jokes, having Bible studies and studies of the liturgy and why it is the way it is (it's amazing to me the history of liturgical studies), etc.  The Churches where I have seen this done have accomplished a lot--and have not needed to alter the services.  Cutting up services and changing them around, updating them, etc., is really more of a cosmetic fix in my opinon.  Forgive me if I have offended you by my bluntness.

Anastasios
 

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I think what is definitely needed here is a balanced view. That is to suggest that we simply should discard all of tradition is not what is being intimated, however to suggest at the same time that the church should remain static and forever unchanging also is not in the spirit of the fathers...Tradition was not handed to us on a plate by either Christ or the apostles but they planted the seed and the church developed and grew and progressed as it saw fit according to the wisdom, grace and discretion endowed upon it by God.

Hence the fathers introduced feasts, fasts, liturgical rites and garments, canons, iconography, horologion, monastic communities, ascetic practices, ecclesiastical architecture, music, hymns, prayers, clerical ranks, etc...

All of these were developed through the centuries according to the needs of the people that our saintly fathers served and according to what they saw fit by the grace of God...

That's why almost every ethnic church has rites which differ from any other because the fathers wisely adapted the tradition to incorporate the culture of the people and to suit the times and their very needs...

What about 21st century western culture??? I wonder the type of service the fathers would in their wisdom would have tailored to suit our needs...

No new heresies have been introduced since the Christological controversies of the 4th centuries?????????????????????????????

Are you for real? Are you serious?

I think the rites of the church today need more than anything else to address the philosophical quandary of modern man...His existential angst and the anguish and despair which languishes our modern world...
 

Anastasios

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No new heresies have been introduced since the Christological controversies of the 4th centuries??

Are you for real? Are you serious?
That's not what I said. If you can't take the time to read what I said carefully, then I see no need to discuss this with you.

Anastasios
 

falafel333

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Anastasios said:
That's not what I said. If you can't take the time to read what I said carefully, then I see no need to discuss this with you.

Anastasios
Sorry Anastasios I was actually refering to chris' comment by this statement...
 

Anastasios

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falafel,

I guess to get a better grip on what you are saying, I'd like to pose this question:

I think the rites of the church today need more than anything else to address the philosophical quandary of modern man...His existential angst and the anguish and despair which languishes our modern world...
How do you think that the liturgy does NOT answer these problems, and what would you do to change it? I think we need some concrete ideas to discuss, otherwise we will just talk past each other.

For my part, I think the DL already answers modern man's angst. When I go to liturgy and hear the Cherubic hymn, I set aside my earthly cares in a literal way. Sunday liturgy is what gets me energized enough to make it through the week. During Lent when we have presanctified, it's even better. The liturgy moves me in ways I can't describe, and I am very wary of changing them even one bit because I already believe it already does such a great job. You obviously feel differently so I'd like to know why.

Anastasios
 

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I don't really think the services need to be shortened. What I do think is that the music needs to be held to agreed upon musical standards and rewritten. Being the son of a cantor and somewhat knowledgable in music in general, I can assure you that service length is increased by singing:

1) Dragging out songs and hymns by adding counts to notes or by slowing down counts. My father who is getting up in years is notorious for slowing down his counts while he sings. I on the other hand keep to a musical count where half notes indeed get 2 counts and not 4.... When I sang for 8 weeks in my father's absence, the service was done 15 minutes earlier.

2) The difficulty and length of some of the feast day hymns. While the tropar and kondak and such can be relatively easy to sing, the Irmos and Glorifications generally are not (*at least not the chanted ones...). Now this may be different depending on the structure of the music (e.g. Arabic tone 1 is not the same as Russian Tone 1 which is not the same as Carpatho-Russian Tone 1). This can add to the length of the service if it is not properly reviewed ahead of time.

Note of course that the second one doesn't really apply to a choir, only a chanter/cantor. This would be the first place I would look since often it is easier to revise music and tonal structure than it is to revise a service. If you want a long service, you can visit Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. The liturgy is routinely an hour and 45 minutes, not including memorials and/or molebens well, enough said....

-Nick
 

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Well i think you're asking a very philosophical question and perhaps a subjective one at that as well and also personal as any reflection on such a question would be each individual's interpretation of the current condition of modern man...

However, I believe that more than anything else today we need a liturgy that affirms the existence of God against the Nietzschean philosophy which tried to kill Him...We need a rite which affirms the beauty and unconditional love of God in unambiguous and emphatic terms and his sanctification of all of creation...

We need rites which address man's destiny and purpose...We need rites which address the capitalist/materialist world that we live in today, the poverty, violence and intolerance and something that over and over again emphasises the need of man's love for God as well as neighbour equally to be able to attain salvation...

If change or discarding certain elements really bothers you that much there's always the possibility of diversity...I suppose people can be very different and have different needs. Therefore, the schism you mention doesn't have to necessarily be inevitable as I believe that the church can try to accomodate the needs of of both the new and old whether this is done separately, in different services, or jointly in a single service...
 

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Here are some ideas about reducing the length of the Divine Liturgy WITHOUT shortening or deleting portions of the actual text of the Liturgy itself:

    1. Allow memorial services only on Saturdays (this is canonically what is supposed to be done anyway). This will not unnecessarily lengthen the Sunday Divine Liturgy.
    2. Curtail the laundry list of commemorations at the Great Entrance and don't drag it out. What on earth could possibly be wrong with "You and all Orthodox Christians may the Lord God remember in His kingdom." ? It's short, elegant, and says everything that needs to be said.
    3. Have the priest REFUSE to hear confessions immediately before Divine Liturgy so that the service can begin ON TIME. (Sounds harsh, but I have seen parishes where it works.)
    4. Have the choir director sit down with the priest and plan music that can be sung straightforwardly and quickly with good enunciation. Why we must sing Cherubic Hymns that last almost 15 minutes is beyond me!
    5. Have the Divine Liturgy begin exactly at the time appointed. (my priest is wonderful about that.)
    6. A concise, well prepared homily on the Gospel reading for the day that lasts no longer than 10 minutes can help.
    7. Refuse to drag everything out at the conclusion of the Liturgy with endless announcements, "Many years" sung for every conceivable reason, travel blessings, ad nauseum. I have seen parishes where that stuff alone adds 15 or 20 more minutes to the service.
    8. Let the Divine Liturgy END with the veneration of the cross and don't have the readers drag it out for 20 more minutes reading the post-communion prayers. Encourage the faithful to read these prayers at home.
    9. Hope you have a priest that doesn't insist on reading every one of the priest's secret prayers aloud and very slowly.
  10. Be patient and tolerate stuff. :)

 

chris

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falafel333 said:
I think that the entire liturgical service may need some form of reform, from the liturgical texts used themselves to the style and type of music applied...it just seems that while theological trends in the church may have made enormous advances in the 20th century much of the liturgical tradition has remained more or less static...the texts being limited to the Christological controversies of the early centuries and for the most part representing a creedal statement of the church's position on many of these views...
My comment about the Christological controversies was in disagreement to what you wrote in the above paragraph. As I read it, it seemed like you were saying that the liturgical texts needed change because newer theological trends have occurred, and the last paragraph seems to indicate you feel that the Liturgy could be changed since our Liturgy does much to teach of the Triune nature of God and not those 'newer trends'.

My quote:

Also, just as there are no new heresies, we should not adjust the language of the Liturgy because the 'Christological controversies are not present nowadays' is not an accurate statement, especially when looking at some of the various sects out there nowadays.
indicates that I do not agree with this assertion, and so your statement:

No new heresies have been introduced since the Christological controversies of the 4th centuries??

Are you for real? Are you serious?
is actually in agreement with mine, even though it contradicts what I thought was the statement you were making in the beginning.
 

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Although often maligned for doing so, Byzantine Catholics have been abbreviating services for many years.  Common usage today is:

no little litanies bewteen the antiphons, of which we only take one verse

Troparia are usually limited to three, one troparia, one kontakion, one theotokion (Rusyn Custom)

no litanies of the catechumens or faithful or offering, the priest simply takes the prayers silently.

And the fact that Prostopinje is pretty simple and doesn't drag out gives you a Sunday Divine Liturgy that is about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.

Fr. Deacon Lance
 

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Am I the only one who thinks services are over too quickly?  :D  I think we should make them longer.  But this may be because 1)I've only been Orthodox for a few years and 2) I don't have children.
 

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Our Sunday DL usually lasts 1:45 excluding memorial/commemoration stuff.  Unfortunately, due to having a reasonably sized well established parish, there are a bunch of older people, of which I think many have died off in the last 10 years.

Things we do that do NOT lengthen the service:
1.  Sing/Chant at a reasonable pace and not slow and drawn out.
2.  Have 2 or even 3 Communion lines (Yes, we frequently have 3 priests, although I have no idea how long it will last).
3.  We DO read the post-Communion prayers, but this happens DURING the cross veneration and does zilch to lengthen the time in church.  Besides, not everyone stays in the church after they venerate the cross.
4.  Only a couple of mass (meaning general) commemorations during the Great Entrance.  It is an OCA parish, so no long procession like which usually happens in Antiochian parishes (GOA too?).

Things we do that DO add length:
1.  Chant verses during the Beatitudes (we do this 90+% of the time - rubrics say so and our priest is conservative and the bishop emphasizes these).
2.  Sermon sometimes goes longer than planned.  They say they try to keep it to 10 minutes, but it doesn't always happen.
3.  We almost always do all the litanies between the Gospel and Cherubic Hymn.  On Pentecost, the sermon was shorter and we only did the augmented litany...and liturgy ended promptly at 11:30 and we went immediately into the kneeling Vespers.
4.  Memorials/Commemorations can push things over the 2 hr mark occasionally.  Unfortunately, the family of those for memorials would just not come on a Saturday.


Re: long Cherubic hymn.
There certainly WOULD be a reason to have a really long Cherubic hymn...if there is some big Hierarchical brouha with a grace of Bishops (I made that up for a group) - especially if a Patriarch is there.  If it is a regular DL or even a HDL with one bishop, I don't see why it should be any longer than 5 min though.
 

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Landon77 said:
Am I the only one who thinks services are over too quickly?  :D I think we should make them longer.
Well, we could always go back to the apex of the Cathedral Rite of Hagia Sophia, during which time it appears that the Kiss of Peace alone took about one hour.
 

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Why would you want to shorten services and spend less time in church?!?  Seriously, why would you do that if God is really the most important thing in your life? And if He's not, then all this is just a charade and there's not much point in coming at all.
 

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Sloga said:
Like at serbian churches, people are beginning to show up late, at 11 so they only have to stay for an hour.
The same in some Greek & Antiochian parishes.  It's just like the midnight Pascha service, in many Greek churches, after the priest proclaims ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΙ the church empties out.
 
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