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Can hymns still be created?
  • Regarding liturgical hymns not spiritual songs. Is our church past that time? or do you believe that there is a possibility that some archdeacon or Pope with a great and blessed mind will make another hymn or two? Or did our forefathers get everything and now our job is to carry tradition? very general question that is open to all answers/ideas/opinions
    God Bless
  • I personally am against this idea. I hope we revive the uncared for hymns and there are many rather than doing such. There are already a few examples where cantors sing some hymns differently because of inconsistencies in teaching so please no other division needed.
    Oujai
  • Dearest brothers and sisters,

    I hope that this message finds you all well in Christ. I feel that the question stated here is rather important and deserves a bit of inspection. I apologize if becomes a bit long-winded.

    In short, the answer to your question is yes, new liturgical hymns can be written. Orthodoxy is not a means by which rites and rituals are simply inherited and maintained; the Church is not a museum. The Church, being the Body of Christ, is alive, the evidence of which is the continued manifestation of new saints around us. The Holy Spirit, which dwelled in the ancient Church Fathers, is the self-same Spirit which dwells noetically in the saints of today.

    It is rather important to note, though, that the creation of new liturgical hymns does not imply the creation of new dogma or doctrine; indeed, these categories never have something "new" within them, being simply a further delving into the depths of what was presented in the past, in full accordance with what has previously been stated. This, again, is because the Holy Spirit is one and of one mind. Though certain truths may be clarified over time (the eternal begetting of the Logos, the Holy Virgin Mary as Theotokos, the ever-procession of the Holy Spirit as a hypostasis which is fully Divine), these truths have been maintained from the beginning. Hymns are an expression of the beliefs of the Orthodox Church. In order for a new hymn to be written, it must be written with the self-same Holy Spirit dwelling within the heart of the writer. This is not merely a feeling or a conscious decision that one makes that he or she has the Holy Spirit dwelling within their hearts, but a fundamental truth whose source is the graceful energies of the Trinity.

    The issue that we all must be aware of is the entrance of non-Orthodox theology into the Church, which is easily spread by the introduction of new songs. As such, the Church is very careful to include new hymns, as they must be thoroughly be reviewed as both Orthodox and beneficial.

    There is no "time" at which we will be unable to create new hymns, but they must be created within the Spirit of that which is already present in the Church; the safeguard in this is whether or not the Holy Spirit is truly acting within the person writing the hymn. If, indeed, the Holy Spirit acts within the heart of a person truly to the depths that this person may experience the graceful energies of the Trinity within their heart, then that which they state by means of revelation will not be against anything that has been revealed previously, and will be in full accord with Orthodox teaching. Again, just because someone may "feel" that they have a profound relationship with God that they would like to detail in a new song or hymn does not mean that they are within their rights to do so.

    Indeed, we must be very careful of our heritage, but not at the expense of thinking that the Fathers of old have ceased to exist and that all that has been revealed is all that will be revealed.

    Forgive me and pray for me,
    childoforthodoxy
  • A thoughtful and enlightening answer. Thank you very much as I would probably normally jump in the 'NO' camp without thinking in depth as you have. Why should we think that the 'Fathers' no longer exist and spiritual hymns can no longer be created? The answer is we shouldn't as there is no Church teaching which suggests otherwise.

    There are hymns which are hundreds of years old and then there are newer hymns like the Festal Trisagion which is speculated to only be a hundred years old or so.

    I suppose the question for those who say no to the creation of new hymns is where is the line that should not be crossed or the cut off date? In the church I serve in we have a very knowledgeable deacon who is the son of a priest from Alexandria. I have grown up regularly hearing him say that the church should fix the hymns we have (in reference to erroneous hymns either linguistically or lyrics) or create new ones. I used to think this was quite radical thinking for a knowledgeable person but there have been certain instances where I could be swayed.
  • I wasn't planning on responding to this post....but now, why not?!

    Let me define a liturgical hymn, atleast in my opinion and in very little words: it is text that reflects the faith of the Church (either in rite or doctrine) that is chanted in a way or another. The Coptic way of chanting is very different than many hymns in other churches from little i have seen of other churches. That is not to say that it's superior but simply different because of all the traditional and cultural effects.

    I now have to separate the text from the tune because both are constructed differently:
    1-Text can be done by anyone and be reviewed and accepted by anyone but we do have to remember the effects of other readings that may affect that text. To me that is not a big concern simply because it is easier to spot any issues with the text.
    2-Tune: this is where it gets a little messy simply because not many know the sources of the tunes. Even the greatest scholar cannot confirm even by the smallest probability that the tune of Pek-ethronos can be tracked down to pharaonic times because there isn't really proof of those musical notes considering that we always use 'hazzat', ornaments that cannot be written down and understood by whoever tries to read it.

    So dealing with tunes is annoying. Now, historically, the oldest recordings of liturgical hymns always goes back to the great Cantor Mikhail EL-Batanouni. He wasn't the best cantor but the first to record the greatest number of hymns. If not him, then his disciples. Many hymns are constructed on other hymns as it is written in many books. So for example Afrek etfe is the hymn of the Ascension. In books, it is written to be chanted in the tune of Kata Nikhoros of the Resurrection (atleast Afrek etfe paralex). So different cantors or chanters may vary here but that is only in the positioning of the hazzat on syllables--to me that is not a concern and it shouldn't be to any deacons.

    Let me speak about the cantors that are considered the sources of hymns. Almost all learned hymns from other cantors and they will tell you that. You here have to trust them and just hope that their memory and what they hear around them do not have any effects on the tune. And that brings me to the important part, 'what they hear around them.' The affects of the the music and songs in the society will definitely have an affect on any 'hymn' or any type of singing or chanting that one might think of doing. Even in music, changes are there. I am a person who listens to Abdel-halima dn Om Kalthum (classic Egyptian singers 1950s to early 1970s) and when i listen to songs now and you can't even compare them together--the length of songs, the words, the music, the HAZZAT (yes, classic arabic songs have many hazzat in them).

    One more factor that i left to the end, our Coptic Heritage--the main reason we keep almost EVERYTHING COPTIC and why many 'modern' youth hate us and also whose supports take advantage of for simply the lack of wanting to change or accept simple changes. I will also take advantage of that reason and give an answer to this post: I believe that we are in the age of retrieving what we have lost in our Coptic Heritage (either of hymns, rites, language, traditions...) and not in the best age to 'create' new things. The words 'things' is weak but i use it to really include 'everything' that we may use to come closer to God. Yoga have practices that help spiritually a lot, i am told..does that mean we should bring it into the Church?!

    Sorry for the long post...every long in a while i'll leave everything in my hand and do this: write a post that no one would understand :-)..i just hope you guys don't hate me for it.
  • Dear Mina,
    baketronos is a Lebanese/Syrian tune not pharaonic. Childoforthodoxy and drewhalim make a good point though, where to draw the line, and what date could we say we're not creating ANYMORE?
    For me the principle is this: what I inherit from my father is his possession however he came to own it, and I have no intention of forsaking or defiling or adding over it. Simply because you put it nicely, the effects of widespread different styles of chanting, and tunes around us they do keep changing.
    Another point I want to make is that I heard newly formed Arabic carols being incorporated into liturgies, one big example is ya kol el sefoof, and set el abkar, and they do sound very simple-tuned and superficial lacking the sophistication that characterises Coptic hymns, one of the major reasons I'm against Canada production of the former in Coptic wording!
    One last point if Ibrahim, or Gad, or even any less known cantor would do such a thing, what message will this send out? To youth, other churches and other denominations? Ok, it'll be interpreted by me as these: we want to change, no longer hold on to the colour our parents painted, and also that we're getting bored and should pander to the chimes of the times we live in.
    P.S. there are some Coptic churches that use western icons on their walls. No surprise the original poster asked the question, probable too late!
    Oujai
  • [quote author=ophadece link=topic=14639.msg166128#msg166128 date=1380611289]
    Dear Mina,
    baketronos is a Lebanese/Syrian tune not pharaonic.
    [/quote]
    are you just saying that because it said in the Shami Tune?


    Another point I want to make is that I heard newly formed Arabic carols being incorporated into liturgies, one big example is ya kol el sefoof, and set el abkar, and they do sound very simple-tuned and superficial lacking the sophistication that characterises Coptic hymns, one of the major reasons I'm against Canada production of the former in Coptic wording!
    but these are in books and approved by the Church. In hymns that have 4 estikhons in a paragraph and the tune is replicated on each, the major factor is the text....if it's approved, I am good with it.

    One last point if Ibrahim, or Gad, or even any less known cantor would do such a thing, what message will this send out? To youth, other churches and other denominations? Ok, it'll be interpreted by me as these: we want to change, no longer hold on to the colour our parents painted, and also that we're getting bored and should pander to the chimes of the times we live in.
    Despite the fact that we are talking about ADDING new hymns and not change, i'll respond to you. the definition of Adding hymns to many is rakeep a KNOWN tune on a specific hymn to follow a teaching. That has been the most controversial these days. people don't like it. I myself, agree with it and do not mind it. I trust those cantors and their teachings. When comes to 'change', people's definition of it is also different. So you really have to be specific and i please ask not to drag that topic here ont his post because i know where would this go. 

    P.S. there are some Coptic churches that use western icons on their walls. No surprise the original poster asked the question, probable too late!
    Oujai


    that is for another topic if you would like.
  • Yes Mina, shami tune as remenkimi or someone else maybe explained comes from either Lebanese or Syrian origins.
    Oujai


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