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What's the Pastoral Logic behind the Current Practice for Orthros?

MarkosC

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I apologize if this has been asked somewhere before.

I was at a particular Orthodox cathedral this past weekend which had a few Readers chanting Orthros using traditional plainchant.  Attendance of course was minimal, not helped by the fact that Sunday school was going on as well as adult religious ed (though my impression is that most of the parents weren't at adult religious ed).  

But then when Divine Liturgy starts, a whole choir of people (greater than the attendees at Orthros in pseudo-southern Baptist choir garb) came out and started singing various forms of four part music in modern major and minor scales.   Of course, this is when the people start streaming into church.  

I've seen this a gazillion times before at various Greek parishes (never been to Sunday worship at a Slavic parish, but my impression is that this is a non-issue because of the Vigil and that the same people sing both the vigil and the Liturgy).  But I have to ask....

What's the pastoral logic behind this?   To the guy in the pews all of these say that "Orthodox Sunday worship is the Divine Liturgy" - which is of course true.  But if one's left with the impression that Orthros is a service sung a by a few old men singing weird music that no one needs to/wants to attend because there are other things to do.  Like teaching, Bible study, setting up for coffee hour or for such and such parish event, sleeping in, hanging out, or even practicing the "real" choir music.

All those alternatives are OK in my view.  But if Orthros is optional one wonders, why does the priest spend his time there, and why have Orthros at all?    

Markos
(who, as an aside, attends Orthros every week, sees many of the same things and is too chicken to ask his priest this)
 

Fr. George

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Some reasons for Orthros:

- It is the daily morning service (not special to Sundays), and the days are much better, IMO, when Orthros takes place.
- Orthros is a terrific teaching service.  You can learn much about our view on the Resurrection, the Saint(s) and Feast(s) of the day, and much more by attending Orthros.  It is the original Christian bible study in a way.
- The priest needs to be there 30+ minutes before Divine Liturgy anyway, to vest, prepare the gifts, and be ready for Divine Liturgy.  Adding the Orthros is not much of a sacrifice, when understood in this context.
- Orthros more than most services reinforces what and who (or Who) we celebrate that particular day.

Personally, I'm 100% against having Church school, set-up time, choir practice, etc. during ANY divine service - Orthros, Liturgy, Vespers, Paraklesis, etc.  Thankfully, our parish has a longstanding rule against having any activities during Church time.
 

biro

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I also appreciate the honor to the Virgin Mary, the penitential Psalms and hearing a great deal about the saint or feast of the day. It's like a biography in poetic song.
 

FormerReformer

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MarkosC said:
I apologize if this has been asked somewhere before.

I was at a particular Orthodox cathedral this past weekend which had a few Readers chanting Orthros using traditional plainchant.  Attendance of course was minimal, not helped by the fact that Sunday school was going on as well as adult religious ed (though my impression is that most of the parents weren't at adult religious ed).  

But then when Divine Liturgy starts, a whole choir of people (greater than the attendees at Orthros in pseudo-southern Baptist choir garb) came out and started singing various forms of four part music in modern major and minor scales.   Of course, this is when the people start streaming into church.  

I've seen this a gazillion times before at various Greek parishes (never been to Sunday worship at a Slavic parish, but my impression is that this is a non-issue because of the Vigil and that the same people sing both the vigil and the Liturgy).  But I have to ask....
Waitasecond- the Greek parishes you've attended have people start streaming in at the start of the Divine Liturgy? I've never been to one like that, mostly the majority of the people show up just a fraction of a second after "The doors- the doors!"

(disclaimer- currently attending a Greek parish- and usually there before Orthros starts)
 
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FormerReformer said:
MarkosC said:
I apologize if this has been asked somewhere before.

I was at a particular Orthodox cathedral this past weekend which had a few Readers chanting Orthros using traditional plainchant.  Attendance of course was minimal, not helped by the fact that Sunday school was going on as well as adult religious ed (though my impression is that most of the parents weren't at adult religious ed).  

But then when Divine Liturgy starts, a whole choir of people (greater than the attendees at Orthros in pseudo-southern Baptist choir garb) came out and started singing various forms of four part music in modern major and minor scales.   Of course, this is when the people start streaming into church.  

I've seen this a gazillion times before at various Greek parishes (never been to Sunday worship at a Slavic parish, but my impression is that this is a non-issue because of the Vigil and that the same people sing both the vigil and the Liturgy).  But I have to ask....
Waitasecond- the Greek parishes you've attended have people start streaming in at the start of the Divine Liturgy? I've never been to one like that, mostly the majority of the people show up just a fraction of a second after "The doors- the doors!"

(disclaimer- currently attending a Greek parish- and usually there before Orthros starts)
Personally, I feel an overwhelming urge to run to all the doors in turn and bolt them shut at that point of the Liturgy, because we still have people arriving as late as at "the holy things for the holy".
 

MarkosC

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FormerReformer said:
Waitasecond- the Greek parishes you've attended have people start streaming in at the start of the Divine Liturgy? I've never been to one like that, mostly the majority of the people show up just a fraction of a second after "The doors- the doors!"
:D 

Thanks for the replies so far. 
 

Alveus Lacuna

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MarkosC said:
But if Orthros is optional one wonders, why does the priest spend his time there, and why have Orthros at all?
Proskomedia

Most Eastern Rite churches in communion with the Pope of Rome have been Latinized to the point where Proskomedia (Preparation) is no longer down, but we keep doing it because it is essential to the liturgy and for the living and the dead. You might be unfamiliar with it because perhaps it had fallen into disuse among the Melkites. I know it has among the Ruthenians.
 

MarkosC

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Actually, not quite.  I am quite familiar with the Orthros since I attend it every week, and have heard of the Proskemedia (but have no idea whether or not it's done since I've never been behind the iconostatis at the time).

I was looking at a bit more specific a question, and apologize if I'm not making that so clear since in typing plainly it can look like I look down on that Orthodox cathedral.  

Said cathedral spends such an effort selecting and rehearsing "good" major/minor key four part "church" music* and sends out  about a dozen laypeople in nice Baptist choir robes to sing when the DL begins, and when people begin to stream in.  Earlier, 2-3 psaltai in black robes sing bizarre music in a service no one goes to .  

Looking at the typikon, it would seem to me that Orthros should preceed DL, that the same people who sing Orthros would sing DL, that they would wear traditional psaltai garb not baptist style choir robes, and they would sing Byzantine Chant either in Greek or English (since there is enough good resources to do it in English too).   The pastor would encourage attendance at Orthros as well. 

However, all these factors would give one the impression said parish considers Orthros as an inferior service, and has no interest in even making the people it chooses to be its primary music ministers to attend, leaving it to a few eccentric weirdos.   In such a context, I think one can reasonably ask why have this service since no one goes to it (I've heard people in such parishes discourage visitors from attending Orthros for that reason), and why the situation I described is considered pastorally desirable in some parishes.    

Again, I don't mean to look down on such places, I'm just curious about the logic.  

Markos

* e.g. John Sakellarides' Greatest Hits, etc.  
 

arimethea

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MarkosC said:
Said cathedral spends such an effort selecting and rehearsing "good" major/minor key four part "church" music* and sends out  about a dozen laypeople in nice Baptist choir robes to sing when the DL begins, and when people begin to stream in.  Earlier, 2-3 psaltai in black robes sing bizarre music in a service no one goes to .  

Looking at the typikon, it would seem to me that Orthros should preceed DL, that the same people who sing Orthros would sing DL, that they would wear traditional psaltai garb not baptist style choir robes, and they would sing Byzantine Chant either in Greek or English (since there is enough good resources to do it in English too).   The pastor would encourage attendance at Orthros as well.   

However, all these factors would give one the impression said parish considers Orthros as an inferior service, and has no interest in even making the people it chooses to be its primary music ministers to attend, leaving it to a few eccentric weirdos.   In such a context, I think one can reasonably ask why have this service since no one goes to it (I've heard people in such parishes discourage visitors from attending Orthros for that reason), and why the situation I described is considered pastorally desirable in some parishes.    
I think the answer you are looking for is a very simple one. The parts sung during 95% of the Liturgy never change. In Orthros the hymnography changes each week and is the most complicated service to put together. It takes a lot more effort, knowledge and talent to sing Orthros then it does to sing the Liturgy.
 

Deacon Lance

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Alveus Lacuna said:
Most Eastern Rite churches in communion with the Pope of Rome have been Latinized to the point where Proskomedia (Preparation) is no longer down, but we keep doing it because it is essential to the liturgy and for the living and the dead. You might be unfamiliar with it because perhaps it had fallen into disuse among the Melkites. I know it has among the Ruthenians.
You are quite incorrect.  Proskomedia is a regular and essential part of the Liturgy for both Melkites and Ruthenians.  Now precut particles are often used which cuts down the time it takes, but I have never seen it not done or heard any bishop say it was okay to skip it.
 

Subdeacon Bob.C

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As an Antiochian subdeacon, I have participated at times in the Proskomedia (handing the wine, keeping the incense going, turning a page in Father's book, etc) and I cannot imagine us using pre-cut loaves.  The prayers that go along with each slice of the lance (no pun intended, Deacon Lance! ;D) are absolutely beautiful and so meaningful of the sacrifice being prepared!  I had memorized them and prayed them along with our priests.  BTW, have you had the opportunity to serve your priest at Orthros?  I assume your jurisdiction uses essentially the same liturgy as the E/O churches?  bob.c
 

scamandrius

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MarkosC said:
and why have Orthros at all?    
My priest, time and again, has said that if people were to come to Orthros, they would really understand their faith.  Nowhere (at least in the Sunday cycle of services) is the whole core of our faith, centered in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord, so boldly proclaimed or God's glory manifested in His saints realized.
 

Deacon Lance

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Subdeacon Bob.C said:
As an Antiochian subdeacon, I have participated at times in the Proskomedia (handing the wine, keeping the incense going, turning a page in Father's book, etc) and I cannot imagine us using pre-cut loaves.  The prayers that go along with each slice of the lance (no pun intended, Deacon Lance! ;D) are absolutely beautiful and so meaningful of the sacrifice being prepared!  I had memorized them and prayed them along with our priests.  BTW, have you had the opportunity to serve your priest at Orthros?  I assume your jurisdiction uses essentially the same liturgy as the E/O churches?  bob.c
I am not for the use of precuts but it is not my call.  However, all the prayers are said even though the Lamb is already extracted.  I have served Orthros.  Yes, we use the same basic Liturgy as the EO in the Ruthenian usage which we share with ACROD.

 

Subdeacon Bob.C

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Deacon Lance: glad to hear that, as I am not familiar with the Ruthenian liturgical forms.  Thanks for your follow up.  bob.c
 

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there was a time i chanted at a Greek Orthodox parish on a feast day. there was orthros followed by the Divine Liturgy. the problem was a funeral was also scheduled that day, so we had to skip orthros, sing the doxology and rush through the liturgy. its a great disappointment that people dont show up for orthros or take it seriously because it sets up the Liturgy and there are some really beautiful hymns in the service of Orthros
 

scamandrius

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^Same is true for Vespers.  Vespers sets the "mood" or "tone" (couldn't think of a better term) for the Liturgical Day.  There are all these great ways to prepare for Liturgy; most don't take advantage of it.

It's like confession; I doubt many Orthodox Christians take the time to prepare for it as they should.
 

JamesRottnek

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akimori makoto said:
FormerReformer said:
MarkosC said:
I apologize if this has been asked somewhere before.

I was at a particular Orthodox cathedral this past weekend which had a few Readers chanting Orthros using traditional plainchant.  Attendance of course was minimal, not helped by the fact that Sunday school was going on as well as adult religious ed (though my impression is that most of the parents weren't at adult religious ed).  

But then when Divine Liturgy starts, a whole choir of people (greater than the attendees at Orthros in pseudo-southern Baptist choir garb) came out and started singing various forms of four part music in modern major and minor scales.   Of course, this is when the people start streaming into church.  

I've seen this a gazillion times before at various Greek parishes (never been to Sunday worship at a Slavic parish, but my impression is that this is a non-issue because of the Vigil and that the same people sing both the vigil and the Liturgy).  But I have to ask....
Waitasecond- the Greek parishes you've attended have people start streaming in at the start of the Divine Liturgy? I've never been to one like that, mostly the majority of the people show up just a fraction of a second after "The doors- the doors!"

(disclaimer- currently attending a Greek parish- and usually there before Orthros starts)
Personally, I feel an overwhelming urge to run to all the doors in turn and bolt them shut at that point of the Liturgy, because we still have people arriving as late as at "the holy things for the holy".
If I promise to donate $100 to your parish, will your priest let you do that for four consecutive Sundays?
 
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