St. Nicholas Patriarchal Choir of Philadelphia
Liturgical Music at Saint Nicholas
In the Orthodox Faith, our singing in church is meant to be an Icon of worship. We sing our prayers. Our prayers are sung. And hardly ever do we hear prayers simply said. The Orthodox Church’s tradition is to offer up prayers to God in uttered heightened speech called sacred singing. Liturgical music is not something added to prayer. Rather, it is the way we pray in church when we assemble together as God’s People.
This tradition of sung worship is fundamentally Biblical. For both the people of the Old Testament as well as the New, worship means first to gather as a group, and then to sing praise with one mouth and one heart. As a matter of fact, more than two-thirds of the Bible is phrased in such a way that it is obviously meant to be sung. Especially the Book of Psalms the essential prayer-book of the Church in essence, is a song-book. Orthodox hymnody developed from the singing of Psalms and Scriptural Odes, first as simple responses and refrains, later developing into Troparia, Kontakia and strophic hymns on these Biblical verses.
The word antiphon in our prayer-books describes how the people originally divided themselves into two parts and sang the Psalm verses back and forth, from one side to the other. Our liturgical texts show that the assembly responds in a type of song to whatever is chanted by the Bishop, Priest, Deacon, or Cantor. St. Justin the Philosopher, writing in 150 A.D., calls special attention to the way the people sing the Amen as their assent to the great Eucharist Prayer. St. Augustine reflects on the Orthodox tradition of the 4th Century, when he remarks: …truly, is there a time when the faithful assembled are not singing? Truly, I see nothing better, nothing more useful or more holy that they could do.
The mission of the Saint Nicholas Patriarchal Choir is to perpetuate the long tradition of fine liturgical music performance that has been the foundation of worship in our orthodox community for over a century. Under the direction of Musical Director Paul J. Kauriga, the choir leads prayer and worship in liturgy. This upcoming church year the choir is expanding its repertoire to include concerts for orthodox outreach
Stay tuned for upcoming events!