2.3 Enactment of Worship

The worship services in the Orthodox Church require the participation of the clergy and the people. Typically that means there is a priest, who leads the prayers, and a church singer or choir that leads the singing. There are several other possible actors, like deacons, readers, acolytes, and of course the regular worshippers in the pews. 

It is a basic expectation of every parish that their priest knows both what and how to sing. Seminary programs include training in church music. It is also an expectation that the parishioners in the pews will participate in the services, usually following along with a service book in hand. But it is not the priest nor the parishioner in the pew, but the designated church singers who actually enact the music ministry.

For example, in the typical parish of the GOA (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), there is a mixed voice choir that sings at the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. If they have any training, it is in reading music and singing, but not in the liturgical order. In other words, their training is in how to sing, but not what and when to sing. There is also a chanter or group of chanters who sing whatever the choir does not sing, i.e. Matins, Vespers, Holy Week, etc. The head chanters might be trained, but often they do not read music. They usually have an understanding of what and when to sing, but it comes not from formal training, but from unmonitored experience. Choirs and chanters, trained and equipped or not, are ultimately the ones who enact the Church’s music ministry.

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