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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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 We wish those who attend church for the purpose of chanting neither to employ disorderly cries and to force nature to cry out aloud, nor to foist in anything that is not becoming and proper to a church; but, on the contrary, to offer such psalmodies with much attentiveness and con-triteness to God, who sees directly into everything that is hidden from our sight. “For the sons of Israel shall be reverent (Lev. 15:30), the sacred word has taught us.



The chanting, or psalmody, that is done in churches is in the nature of begging God to be appeased for our sins. Whoever begs and prayerfully supplicates must have a humble and contrite manner; but to cry out manifests a manner that is audacious and irreverent. On this account the present Canon commands that those who chant in the churches refrain from forcing their nature to yell, but also from saying anything else that is unsuitable for the church. But what are the things that are unsuitable for the church? The expositor Zonaras replies that they are womanish members and warblings (which is the same as saying trills, and an excessive variation or modulation in melodies which inclines towards the songs sung by harlots). The present Canon, therefore, commands that all these things be eliminated from the Church, and that those chant therein shall offer their psalmodies with great care to God, who looks into the hidden recesses of the heart, i.e., into the psalmody and prayer that are framed mentally in the heart rather than uttered in external cries. For the sacred word of Leviticus teaches us sons of Israel to be reverent to God.[212]



David the prophet, too, says, “chant ye understandingly” (Ps. 47:7). In expounding this text St. Basil the Great (Epitomized Definitions, No. 279) says: “Understanding the words of the Holy Scripture is like the quality of meals which the mouth eats; since, according to Job (12:11), ‘The throat tastes foods, but the mind discerns words.’ So if anyone’s soul discerns the power of every word just as the sense of taste discerns the quality of every food, he is fulfilling that commandment of David’s.” St. Basil himself adds (Epitomized Definitions, No. 281) that whoever does not go to chant in church eagerly should either be corrected or be ousted. If there are enough psalts available — many, I mean — the same saint (Epitomized Def., No. 307) says that they should practice chanting in rotation, once a week, that is to say. Canon XV of Laodicea, on the other hand, commands that no one else must chant in church but canonical chanters, or psalts, and parchment-chanting chanters, or psalts, or, in other words, except those who chant with a membraneous or other paper chant. In addition, c. XXIII of the same Council says that psalts are not to wear an orarion when they are chanting. Between the chants there ought to be reading (or praying) too, according to c. XVII of the same Council. [213]



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