By Michael Bauml
Recently I found myself in Saints Constantine and Helen Church dressed
in a choir robe. Our Saint Luke choir had just finished singing for a wedding there. I
was ecstatic because I felt we had never sounded better.
Our invitation to sing for the wedding came from a visitor to our
parish who had worshipped at Divine Liturgy quite often. (She was also related to one
of our singers.) We were very honored to accept herb gracious request to sing for her
If anyone told me two years ago that I would sing at a wedding, I
would have said they were crazy.
So how did this happen? Quite simply, I was asked if I would try to
sing for our church services, so I took a chance. I was apprehensive because I never had
any formal vocal training. Maria Vrame, our choir director, was very patient and worked
many hours with me and several other neophytes like myself. Truthfully at this point, I
don’t think that any of our choir members are in danger of being lured by a record
contract. But with hard work we try to create a prayerful spirit to strengthen all
worshippers in their faith. We are just ordinary people working together, getting to
know one another, and caring about each other while trying to fashion something
beautiful. I have had some casual relationships develop into deep friendships through
my participation in choir. My fellow singers are really great persons. We have a lot
of fun together and feel a sense of accomplishment when notes come together to produce
liturgical music. More importantly we are praising God while we sing. A priest once
told me that when you sing in church, you are actually praying twice.
If you are not a trained vocalist but like to sing, consider joining
us in the choir loft. We can help you learn as you go. If you are willing to invest
work and time into attending rehearsals, the result will be worth it.
Father Andrew once told me that when you sing in the choir, you are
really practicing to sing in the Heavenly Choir. I really hope he’s right! If you don’t
feel that you want to join us in the loft, please help by singing along - whether in
the church nave or sanctuary. Remember to "Make a joyful noise to the Lord" Serve the
Lord with Gladness! Come into His presence with singing!" Psalm 100:1,2
As a popular song said it so well, "Don’t worry that you’re not
good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing, sing a song." And if I can become a
"Wedding Singer", so can you!
Now that I have hopefully inspired you to sing, please read the
following excerpt from our Sunday Divine Liturgy book. The Orthodox Liturgy is always
sung. The responses are given by specially trained cantors, choir directors, choirs or
by the entire congregation. The ancient practice of the Church was that the entire
congregation sang the responses. Singing in an Orthodox Church is considered prayer
transformed into poetry and music. For this reason the Holy Fathers and Church Canons
condemned the use of elaborate music or instrumental music in the Liturgy.
1. You shall sing!
2. You shall sing with your heart, with all your soul and with all your might!
3. You shall sing fearlessly, ignoring the possible wondering glances of your
neighbors. They would like to sing with you if they had the nerve, and they will
sing with you if you continue!
4. You shall sing joyfully, as it is written by the prophet Isaiah; ‘Sing, O heaven,
be joyful, earth and break forth into singing, O mountains’
5. You shall sing reverently, for music is prayer!
6. You shall not be afraid to sing, for although an individual may pray in prose or
even in wordless silence, a congregation must sing!
7. You shall not resist new melodies, for it is written in the book of Psalms ‘ O
sing unto the Lord a new song.’
8. You shall not mumble the melody, but shall sing it out loud, even if with occasional
9. You shall not hesitate to sing together with the trained chanters. They want you to
10. You shall not forget the words of the Psalmist: ‘I will sing unto the Lord as long as
Add 11. YOU SHALL NOT DRAG!!!