This weekend, the Metropolitan visited my church for several days. He came for the feast day of Saint John the Baptist and presided over two Vespers services and two Liturgies. Given that I have only lead the chanting with a presiding hierarch once at another mission church, it was quite a learning experience. I thought I would share what I learned from it and see what you think.
First, His Eminence’s grace and patience with services was fully appreciated. As you may or may not know, in Vespers some things are read by the Bishop instead of the Priest, Deacon, or Head chanter. When these times came up, the Metropolitan was calm and graceful about either reading or not reading these texts. I felt completely relaxed and unafraid of a possible slip-up. Having a Hierarch that is relaxed at services, and understand their possible stress is awesome!
Second, and on that note, we prepared quite a bit to avoid any slip-ups! If you are a chanter or choir director, you must-must-must clarify with your priest, all that is going on, and what happens when. Hosting a hierarch can be stressful and the last thing you want is for something Liturgically to go awry in front of the congregation and add to that stress. Prepare, prepare, prepare, and then relax.
Thirdly, I was reminded that you can never know too much. Given the heavy amount of festal hymning, this weekend was a reminder, similar to Holy Week, at the density of hymnology in the church, and the amazing gaps that still exist in English. Thank God for Saint Anthony Monastery’s Theophany hymns, as they made the services possible. Hymnology in other languages has had a couple hundred (or a thousand) years start on America, but thanks to these efforts, the situation is getting better. The point being, never ever stop learning or pursuing a way to make it better.
So those are my three somewhat generic conclusions that may help you in a time of a Hierarchical service. I’ll repeat them for added clarity.
Having a Hierarch that is relaxed at services, and understand their possible stress is awesome!
Prepare, prepare, prepare, and then relax.
Never ever stop learning or pursuing a way to make it better.
That’s it. Tell me what you think about these observations!