Sing Praises to the Lord!
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In our fast paced lives, we can easily forget that God has called us to a life of holiness… a life filled with prayer, worship and fasting, and a life lived differently than those around us. We are called to remember the precepts of God, to obey his commandments, and to love our neighbor. How can we do all this, if we don’t order our lives around the Church?
One of the many blessings of the church’s worship is its hymnography. We are not called to stand in church and listen to spoken words, but rather to the chanted Word of God. The church approaches us differently than the world. It offers us calm, peaceful melodies that remind us of heaven and strong, lively melodies that lift us to heaven. We are offered incense to fill our senses and to give us heavenly fragrances. We are surrounded by holy images, so that we will see heaven. The goal is to taste heaven in the Eucharist and to become one with Christ.
When we offer our gifts of music to the church, we become instruments of Christ’s body. We partake of the spiritual realm by participating in the very same actions as those of the angels surrounding the throne of God. We are not simply singing, but rather glorifying God. How blessed are we, that we are able to participate in the life of the church in this intimate and important way. It is no wonder that at times we are brought to tears by the beautiful hymns of the church. When we hear a seasonal hymn that we love, it is as if a close friend has come near and offers us warmth and assurance. Indeed, that is part of the beauty and grace of our church…its unchanging cycles which every year speak anew to us and deepen our relationship with Christ. We who grew up in the church remember from our youth the wonderment of ‘Come receive the light - Defte lavete fos’…the priest coming through the royal doors with a sole lit candle, proclaiming the resurrection of Christ. It is through our continued participation in the life of the church that these memories come to fruition. Our dedication to the life of the church, regardless of our circumstance, helps us to remain close to the church. It helps us to feel near to the saints and the very living body of Christ.
Whether we sing from the chanters’ stand, or the pews, or in our homes with a candili lit in front of our icons, or in our cars with music of the church, we are following in the footsteps of the Saints, who kept Christ within themselves always and continually had chanting upon their lips.