Chanting in American English but not imitating Greek singing

#81
FrEphraim: "To what degree is the spirituality of the music of Protestant and Roman Catholic Christianity compatible with Orthodox spirituality?"

I think this is a very interesting question. I'm part of a Greek choir but pretty much the sole chanter for any English, which is increasingly required - which has drawbacks and advantages. In a mostly English service, on the feast of St Ambrose, I decided to chant some of his own (4th c) hymns as Communion Hymns (there are many attributed to him but a few have been attested by St Augustine and I chose those), to melodies in Ambrosian chant (earliest mss are from 8th-12th centuries). While I was thrilled to do this, I think I was the only person who noticed because the Greek congregation know nothing of English hymns. The hallmark of St Ambrose's hymns is his choice of very simple metres and melodies, which could be quickly learned and applied to many hymns and I wonder if the style of Catholic and Protestant hymns have been developed from them. Also, I only really took on board recently that very many of the traditional Catholic and Protestant hymns are Victorian translations from Greek and Latin manuscripts of writings of the early fathers of the church. The Victorian language and marching style of the music were enough to baffle me from those sources (which I never even considered in my Protestant upbringing) and those traditional hymns are probably being increasingly abandoned anyway.

Many Roman Catholics believe their Gregorian chant is the original chant of the great and original Church, which is about as naive as Orthodox people believing the same of our Byzantine chant - which brings me to the question of the thread. Are we talking about chanting in a loosely Byzantine style or not even attempting to do so? Quite a lot of early Western hymnography is being unearthed and translated by scholars now (mainly from Latin and Anglo-Saxon) and musicologists are deciphering more of the early neumes, etc. Is it appropriate to try and incorporate that learning liturgically? I think it's still too specialist to be of much practical use but I do think about it a lot because it is our (almost lost) spiritual heritage. How about we go back to chanting the Psalms in Hebrew?
 
#82
Well, lets ask a different question, can Greeks sing hip-hop?
If thats possible, then Byzantine chant in English can also be possible.

The problem as i understand it, is that we dont have an authoritative translation of the hymns and poetry, and the existing ones are not rhymming or following patterns (as in Προσομοια). There should be a new approach to the poetry of the hymns, and also new composers to start the whole process fresh from the beginning.
By the way, i do know that father Ephraim is doing an excellent work, and i do hope that many people will follow this example.

By the way, how did the Romanians, Serbs and Russians solve the poetry issues? Do they use direct translations?

AGES Initiatives is also a great website for English chanting. It even uses the same melodies that the original Greek does.
 
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