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After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY

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ROCOR-MP Christmas Festival 2008

Reader Daniel Sharing from 2008

Fwd: What's going on in the Russian Church? 
From: "Daniel Everiss"
To: (emailing list)
Subject: Wow! Is anything...out of order in the MP??? How, can that be!-?
 Date: October 31, 2008 

--- On Fri, 10/31/08, Br. Nicholas Steblez wrote:
From: Br. Nicholas Steblez
Subject: What's going on in the Russian Church?
To: orthodox@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU
Date: Friday, October 31, 2008, 1:21 PM

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       Orthodox Christianity
Poster:       "Br. Nicholas Steblez"
Subject:      What's going on in the Russian Church?
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Over the last week or so, I've begun to encounter an odd (to me, at least)  phenomenon which, I'm afraid shows how out of touch I am with the liturgical goings on within the ROC. As I've been sick a lot, my experience with the possible varieties of liturgical music and icons has been rather limited. 

Lately however, through a DVD "Holy Russia Celebrates the Festival (shouldn't that be Feast?) of Christmas (shouldn't that be the Nativity?)" and the CD "Russian Chant for Vespers" featuring the NovospasskyMonastery Choir for example, I've seen and heard things which have puzzled and concerned me.  The DVD begins with a piece of Russian church singing that would be right at home in Handle's Messiah, and goes on through a number of pieces that were more operatic than many operas I've been to. 

The first piece was from the "Christmas Night Mass at the Epiphany Cathedral with His Holiness the Patriarch Alexi II".  What concerned me was that in addition to  the western-style music, there were prominent icons that one would expect to see hanging in a Florentine palace of the Medici's. 

Not all that long ago, I  seem to remember people debating the fact that the Armory School icons were too western, and now the ROC is adopting icons that could have been painted by Titian? The CD "Russian Chant for Vespers" had exactly one item that I would consider to qualify as a chant, the rest was pretty much western-style opera, and this from a monastic choir? I mean, the music hardly even had any Russian flavor to it!

So what's happening or has happened? These are not the things I grew up in the Orthodox Church with, nor have heard at my monastery, or any of the ROCs I've been in over the last ten years. I'm hoping that I won't hear the argument that these things are not important, since tradition is one of the things I would consider as an indispensable part of Orthodoxy.

To be sure, I understand that the ROC is not composed purely from Znamenny chants or Rublev-style icons, but aren't things getting a bit too western in the Eastern Church?

In Christ,

Br. Nicholas Steblez (Yelenev-Gorlenko)

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