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date: 15 November 2019

Orthodox Churchlocked

  • David Drillock

Extract

When Orthodox worshippers gather together as the Church of God they truly believe that not only is Christ there in the midst of them, but so is the whole church as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians xii.27), including the dead and especially the saints and the angels. Worship here on earth is joined with the heavenly worship. Singing brings the inhabitants of heaven and earth together in a common assembly where there is one thanksgiving and one joyful chorus.

Byzantine mystical thought stressed the belief in the angelic transmission of the chants of the church. The hymns that are sung by the angels around the throne of God (Revelation iv.8; Isaiah vi.1–4; Ezekiel iii.12) are passed on from one order or rank to the next until they are received by the hymnographer through a sense of spiritual hearing. By divine grace the hymnographer is able to compose melodies which are viewed as “echoes” or “models” of the heavenly songs and serve as the foundation for all musical creativity. To an Orthodox Christian the act of worship expresses the beauty and the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven. In a classic expression of this attitude, when the emissaries of Vladimir, Great Prince of Kiev, returned from Constantinople in 988, they reported that while at worship in the Church of Hagia Sophia, they did not know whether they were in heaven or on earth....

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