Nicolae Teodoreanu

In spite of my helplessness, I will always thank Him, as He so often
revealed to me the truth and power of His grace, while on the scale of
spiritual ascension.

But, as King Solomon, the pro phet, put it: «For wisdom is more
beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of stars: being compared
with the light, she is found before it.»
(Wisdom 7. 29).1

His power acts by means of the weak and the ignorant. The
psalmist says: «O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is Thy name in all the
earth! (...) O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is Thy name in all the earth!»

(Psalms 8. 1-2).2

André Scrima interpreted the  Letter of Father John the Foreigner  in his book on  The Time of the Burning Bush3. The above fragment goes beyond the stage of narrative and meditation and introduces us to a higher register of the exposition, in an inner topology, no less precise than the physical one, which describes an inner stepwise itinerary: "ascensi on in the heart" (Psalms 83. 6). André Scrima pays attention to the words, their rhythmic and inner structure and finds out a  musical impression, a kind of music that differs from one known to classical musicology and prosody. A music "which does not touch only hearing, but carries us along and penetrates us as  an intimate chord, involving our organic living itself, which maintains us as long as we go through our earthly life" 4. This musical perception of words does not disagree with their contents; on the contrary, their  meaning is turned to account while the intuited musical direction brings us closer - by a surprising association of ideas - to the pure sound of the Hindoo or Persian tradition, which "is waiting there  (...) even prior to the beginning of the musical or cosmic act, like the primordial sound itself" 5. The author provides further unexpected associations, by recalling Olivier Messiaen's endeavour at expressing a sacred presence by means of a "hardly sonorous, fluid and more than subtle music", as if "angels' wings fluttered" 6. André Scrima points out that Father John's text gives the same impression, when perusing it.

Such a hermeneutic reading of the spiritual text opens up a world of significances, which goes be- yond the word meaning proper, to unveil the birth  of music, or beyond music, to reveal its genesis in the power of the word. These are certainly primary cosmogonic phenomena, standing under the sign of Truth and Grace (according to section I of the Father's letter). They are revealed to us by God's wisdom, manifested as Light (section II), and by the greatness of His Name (section III).

"In the beginning", when God decided to create the world leaving off His silence, the abyss which bore the stamp of His Name, His "divine darkness"7, He first set some limits. He separated two worlds: heaven and earth. He separated light from darkness,  day from night, the water above from the water below, ocean from land (Genesis 1. 1-10) 8. He did it in the visible world. In the invisible world " In the beginning was the Word" (John 1. 1). God Himself  observes the limits. For what is the Word? He is already a manifestation of the Unpenetrable, a  comprehension of the uncomprehensible. For beyond any understanding He observes the limits of the Word, without giving up His All-inclusive essence, while means to be "understood, to be "heard". The Word is the (primordial) sound, which means His embodying in time. The Word is also Light ("light –  which – shines – in the darkness" – John 1. 5), which means to be "seen". Therefore, the Word, the  Son, through Whom all things were made, is the link between the transcendent depth of Godhead and this world, which He creates. He is the intermediary between the impenetrable darkness of t he Divinity and the light here, which is clearness and intelligibleness, but also limitation. He is "the  Light of Knowledge", brought to the world by the Son:
"When God undertook to bring all things out  of nothing into being, the Son was assigned the role of keeping in direct touch which the wo rld. The depths of absolute transcendence of Godhead, which were out of the reach of man's understanding, started being somewhat know- able through the Son. By His Son, God is a voice while resounds in nature for people in general, a sign proving His existence i. e. "Word". Also through his Son, God is "Reason" to the world, i. e. reality understandable up to a certain extent, or cause by which the world is ordered and ac- counted for and understands everything. That is why the world was made through the Son and is able to get the relationship with the Son. The  Son is the light reflection of the Father in the world, by the "reasons" or by the meanings and purposes involved in all things, without which the world would be plunged in the most discouraging darkness and nonsense".9

Even before His incarnation in history, to fulfil the divine plan, God humbles Himself and submits to the determinations of His created world. He  is the Light-Word. Though there is no (human) ear to hear Him, or (human) eye to see Him, He is  to be heard and to be seen. Our possible relationship with the Godhead is already prefigured. This is the beginning  of His work of salvation. This is the way there emerges a whole range of religious problems on  God's Voice and View. It is generally considered that Ancient Israel is the people who could listen to t he Word, while the New Israel is the people who could see the Godhead. Evdochimov specified: "In the Bible there is a dialogue between word and image, which call each other and express complementary aspects of one unique Revelation" 10. This accounts for our desire to represent God (by icons) and to praise Him (by words and songs). The former aspect, of "seeing" God, has long been debated. The latter deserves a special discussion.


Which is the relationship between word and singing (music)?

Semantically speaking, the word has a meaning, designates something, is a name of the existing.

Acoustically speaking, the word is a sequence of  phonemes, very different sounds with spectral features (sonorous colours), divided into two classes (vowels and consonants), or even into three, if we take into account the semivowels (voiced consonants), such as  l, m, n, r.  Vowels and – partly – semivowels are supporting sounds for speech. They are  relatively stable, have a definite sound height and a range of harmonic sounds (distributed on several formantic regions). Therefore vowels have a more or less "harmonic" sound. As compared to them, true consonants are "transient" sounds between vowels. They have no definite height,  hence no harmonic spectra. They produce complex spectral combinations, close to noise, are "disharmonic". 11 Phonemes have very different lengths. In general vowels are longer than consonants. In their concatenation they are already music: a sequence of disharmonic and harmonic sounds, which observe a  certain rhythmic structure. Everything happens during a very condensed time. This produces the musicality of a language, even unknown to the listener. A "beautiful" language is one with plenty of vowels,  more "harmonic", e.g. the Italian. Languages with many consonants may have a peculiar charm too, imparted by "specific" consonants, such as the Dutch glottal "h". The noun "vowel" (phoneme) and the ad jective "vocal" have the same root, in many European languages, from the Latin vocalis, which means both singing (sounding) and vowel.

If the semantic aspect of words, their message is provided by the consonants, their materialness is ensured by vowels, which endow words with sonority and melody.

Therefore, the word represents a dual reality. It is both a sonorous complex (music  in nuce) and meaning, a corporal and immaterial  reality. This duality of the word matches the dual nature of the human being: soul and body, mind and heart. For it s meaning speaks to the human mind, while its melody reaches the heart. The interhuman communication itself is based on this dual character: on the one hand we understand the  essence of our collocutor's words, on the other hand, we perceive their intonation. The words' intonation alone may convey something different from the words: "A word spoken about one and the same man, may be sinful or not, according to the feeling behind its utterance. The feeling influences also the intonation used".12

This may show what music really is. Before being separated from the word, becoming abstract, in se, music is an extension of the word, it is word. Singing preserves the unchanged meaning of the word, while the sonorous plane imparts greater weight to vowels, emphasizing them and enhancing their melody. The song emerges from the implicit melody of the spoken word. It is also dual: meaning and sound.

We have already discussed elsewhere the way music emerges in speech, starting from the acoustic research of a certain case: the ritual recitation of a psalm in the Church. 13 We pointed to the already traditional practice of reciting psa lms in the Church, using a certain intonation, with characteristic melodization, though the limits of speech are observed. We emphasized the fact that the recited text already involves musical systems in the bud.

It is maybe no accident that the melody-recitatio n ("Sprechgesang") – which is a further step to- wards the musicalizing of speech – was cultivated by the Eastern and Western Church, as it emphasizes the meaning – sound dual aspect already menti oned. This type of recitation, called "ekphonesis", is a Hellenistic heritage and is encountered not only amo ng Christians, but also among Jews and Moslims, when reciting holy texts.14 In the practice of the Byzantine music, the ekphonetic reciting means "to sing in a loud voice, on a high tune (whence ekphonesis) and in a major way".15

Yet, which is the supreme word we can utter, or which is the supreme music we may sing? To whom our deepest communication goes?

If the Word sacrificed Himself for us, our word s and songs can only be a sacrifice to God, "a sacrifice of praise", doxology. We appeal to God in prayer:

"Praise ye the Lord, for the Lord is good; chant unto His name, for it is good" (Psalms 134. 3).

The Name of God was particularly worshipped  among the ancient Jews. People invoked God's name as far back as the time of Enosh, son of Seth (son of Adam and Eve):

" Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.  At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD" (Genesis, 4. 26).

God's name was thought to be "an extension of  the divine person, a revelation of His Being, an expression of His power". 16 Because of this special worship,  God's name was kept secret and known only by the high priest, who would whisper it in the  most sacred part of the temple, in the Most Holy, only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom-Kippur). 17 The Talmudic tradition knows a name formed of four consonants: the tetragrama YHWH , usually replaced by Adonay (the Lord). This ineffable aspect of the divine name probably matched the specific way of worshipping God. The essence of God Himself was ineffable and unknowable. He was never seen by anyone, could not be represented iconographically and His name could not be directly  uttered by anyone at any time. He had not yet revealed Himself through His Son. The two interdictions (to represent God's image and to call Him by this Name) are voiced in commandments II and III of the Decalogue:

"Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean, under the earth. Don't bow down and worship idols"
"Do not misuse my name. I am the Lord your God".

The fact that God's Name could be written only with four consonants and no vowel might mean, for the Judaic tradition, a special worship of the  Name, as well as the avoidance of Its vulgarisation by pronouncing it, by its verbal materialization. This  consonant aspect is characteristic to the Hebrew writing in general, as Hebrew is a sacred language, devoted to God's worship. There may be a  technical avoidance of uttering the Name, which would point to an  aniconic trend, proper to Hebrew culture, manifested not only visually but also in hearing.

After the incarnation of the Word, things chan ged altogether. God left His transcendence and got closer to us. God acquired human nature and set us free from sin and death, imparting us His God- head. Christ entered in the Most Holy Place, as St. Paul says: " He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy  Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9. 12). Through Him is this way open also for us: "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus..." (Hebrews 10. 19).

God's revelation thoroughly changes the relationship between man and God, requiring a theological reformulation of the relationship between mankind and Godhead. God's Name is no longer prohibited, we are even invited to call Him: " Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1. 12).  God himself reveals this name by the agency of Angel Gabriel: "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus" (Luke 1. 31). And this name becomes the central point, the corner stone of Christian spiritualness.

"No one could describe the Word of the Father;
But when he took flesh from you, Theotokos, he accepted to be described,
And restored the fallen image to its former state by uniting it to divine beauty.
We confess and proclaim our salvation in word and images!".18

This Kontakion sung in the Sunday of Orthodoxy , thought to be "a genuine verbal icon of the feast", according to Leonid Uspensky 19, voices the mystery of the comprehension of the uncomprehended and of the incarnation of the second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Word, Jesus Christ, so that even though our ancestral sin perverted God's image and likeness within us, by seeing Him we might be raised to His countenance  by His redeeming grace. He "of one essence with the Father according to Godhead " becomes of one essence with us, according to humanhead", 20 by His human nature. According to the Christologic al Chalcedon doctrine, He had two natures and a single person, a twofold nature: divine and human. T he implicit essence of this dogmatic formulation refers to the oikonomia of salvation: "God became human, so that the humans may become God".21

By the revelation of the Godhead and the incarn ation of the divinity in a human body, God may be represented, but only by Jesus Christ's image. In this way, Jesus Christ's icon is not a representation; it is the "visual expression of Chalcedon's dogma". 22 "True God and true man". 23 The dogmatic character of the icon, which expresses the antinomy God – man in the same person, accounts for the hostile reaction to the icon during the iconoclast  period (eighth-ninth ct.). The very Christological dogma of incarnation was actually denied.

The mentioned Kontakion is recited in liturgical practice in the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which cele- brates the restoration of Icon veneration by the se venth Oecumenical Council of Nicaea in 787, after iconoclasm. This Kontakion reasserts the dogma of incarn ation: "The Word of the Father took flesh from you, Theotokos", as well as the dogmatic foundation of the icon: "He restored the fallen image to its former state by uniting it to divine beauty. We confess and proclaim our salvation ..."


The last part of the Kontakion reveals a new foundation of the  sacrifice of praise with a dogmatic understood character. Since, if the undescribed Word "accepted to be described" by incarnation, when we confess salvation, we shall describe it "in wo rd and images!" Therefore we may and must become an icon of Godhead, praising God" in word  and images". If praising God in images means the  Icon, as representation of God, the word spoken by our mouth may represent the very Word who created the world. We thus find out the iconic dimension of the word, by means of the possible analogy between the icon–word and the icon–image.

Yet in the Old Testament ages, the "acoustic" had  an altogether different fate from the "visual", in revealing or concealing God.

In the history of the Old Testament, revelati on was always indirect. As God told Moses on Mount Sinaï: "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." (Exodus 33. 20). To see God was not possible, but God's voice was heard quite  often by prophets. God often spoke to people: "Israel is the people of the word and of listening".24

The first two human beings, Adam and Eve, after  sinning, did not see God, but they could hear "the voice of the LORD God walkin g in the garden" (Genesis 3. 8). 25 God spoke to Cain, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. The Lord gave Moses the Testimony – the Ten Commandments. He spoke and then wrote them "with the finger of God" (Exodus 31. 18) 26, on the tables of stone. In this way, if God could not be seen by anyone but only he ard, His word was imparted to mankind both by hearing and by sight, by voice and by writs. The lat ter actually represent the origin and foundation of the Holy Scripture. Why did God resort both  to spoken and to written words, when He wished to impart His law? He probably wished to fix His comm andments forever in a lasting material, such as stone. Maybe, also because God's order, His word, had to be imparted to people from the very beginning by the agency of the two senses which may gasp Godhead, if people are prepared to: hearing and sight ("Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?" – Mark 8. 18). These two senses were chosen to grasp the mystery of Incarnation from age-old times.

Later, in the history of the New Testament, God speaks to us, by the agency of His Son: "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, w ho is at the Father's side, has made him known." (John 1. 18). God is seen in the person of His one bego tten Son, who fulfilled the Law and gave a New Law: that of Love. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to  us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe." (Hebrews 1. 1-2).

"By the incarnation of this «Word», of this  «Reason» of His, God made a step further in getting out of transcendence and coming closer to us. He made Himself a voice of love by Jesus Christ".27

The praise created by St. Ephraem Syrus, is fu lly based on incarnation and on "hearing" the Divine Voice:

"Praise to Him who came to us through H is First Born! Praise to the silent One, Who spoke by His voice Praise to the High, who let  Himself be seen by Appearing! Praise to Him, who, spirit, let His Begotten Son be incarnate,  so that His Power be touched and by His Body, related bodies may find life".28

"Blessed be He who explained to us His mysteries! Let us give thanks to the Voice, whose praise resounded on our harps, and whose power was exalted by our lyres! Peoples gathered to listen to His songs".29

Liturgical music is also a consequence of Incarnation:

"Liturgical music is a result of the claim and the dynamics of the Word's Incarnation. Faith becoming music is a part of the process of the Word becoming flesh. At the same time (one might say: in counterpoint) the flesh becomes «logocized» or spiritualized, restoring harmony to postlapsarian creation. «Wood and brass turn in to tune, the unconscious and the unsolved be- come ordered and meaningful sound»".30

Revealed in His Son, God does not annul His ineffable essence. This is obvious from the manifesta- tion of the Father. Thus, even at the two moments of Epiphany – the Baptism of Jesus and His Transfigura- tion, when the Holy Trinity was revealed, God the  Father is not seen, but heard: "And a voice from heaven said, «This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased»" (Matthew 3. 17; 17. 5).

The revealing of Godhead does not revoke His tr anscendence. As a matter of fact, Christianity promoted in addition to a cataphatic theology of knowing God, also a "negative" approach, an apophatic theology of God's unknowability. The  antinomic understanding of Godhead is essential for the early Eastern Christianity: on the one hand, God may be  known, seen and called by His Name, on the other hand, He is above all human knowledge.

Calling the Divine Name is the central point of  the Christian sacrifice of praise. The Divine Name, who was secret among ancient Hebrews, may be uttered now, since He is revealed:  Jesus Christ. Its significance is the following:  Jesus is Greek, for the Hebrew  Joshua meaning "God is salvation", or "the Saviour". It is a proper name, designating  the historical person of the Rabbi; while  Christ, which corresponds to the Hebrew Messiah, means "God's anointed". It is the title, which defines Jesus' divine mission.31 These names actually define the fundamental antinomy of Incarnation: Son of God and Son of Man, at the same time.

Yet, the ideal and full expression of the worship of  Jesus's Name is voiced in the prayer of Jesus, also called "the prayer of the heart", "the prayer of the mind" or the "pure prayer".


The prayer to Jesus combines two essential feel ings of Christian piety: the assertion of Jesus Christ's divinity, His worship ("Lord Jesus Christ, S on of God") and the confession of man's sinfulness and penitence ("have mercy upon me, the sinner"). It  is important that "Prayer to Jesus" has a Christological character, which means that, the same as the icon, it expresses the essence of the Incarnation dogma: God and Man.

"This is an intensely Christological prayer, devoted to Jesus, focused on the incarnate God. It emphasizes both earthly life – «J esus Christ» – and His divinity – «God's Son». Those who pronounce this prayer are permanently reminded of the historical character who focuses Christian revelation and thus avoid false mysticism, which does not grant Incarnation its proper place". 32

But is the Christological, dogmatic character of Prayer to Jesus (and implicitly of any prayer which invoices Jesus Christ's name) also imparted to music, church singing?

"The Psalms and other vocal prayers were not  vocal at the beginning. They were purely spiritual and only afterwards were they clad  in words and became vocal. Yet this did not change their spiritual character. And now they are vocal only outwardly, but they are spiritual, in point of power".33

This describes the stepwise "materialization" of  the prayer, which is achieved by turning the purely spiritual (inner) prayer into words, making  it verbal. This also means that a prayer may be wordless: "God's feeling is a prayer, even if it is not  uttered in words. The word maintains and – sometimes – intensifies the feelings". 34 Thus making "vocal" an unuttered prayer does not impair its spiritual essence. This is possible due to the dual character of the word: meaning and sound. A consequence of the Incarnation is the turning to account of matter, the possibility to make it divine, not to abolish it.

In this respect, music grants an even deeper "mat erial character" to the spiritual by utmost vocalizing.

As long as music emerges from the word (prayer) and is related to it, calling the Divine Name, it will preserve this dual character, described by the meaning of the words and by melody. In this way it is similar to the Icon, whose dual character is evinced by  its meaning – the Face of the Saviour – and by colour, as His attire of light.

Here is a suggestive description of the complementarity of word and music:

"Faith comes from listening to God's word.  But wherever God's word is translated into human words, there remains a surplus of the unspoken and unspeakable which calls us to silence – into a silence that in the end lets the unspeakable become song and also calls on the voices of the cosmos for help so that the unspoken may become audible".35

Let us recall that "Alleluia", which comes from the Hebrew  Hillel yah, meaning "Praise ye Jehovah", is often encountered in t he Christian liturgical chant. It consists of vowels and semivowels, the acme of materialization and harmonicity of a s ong. It is "the new song", sung at Easter in Catholic Churches36; Easter by Christ's Resurrection, prefigures the revival of the whole creation and the deification of matter.

It goes without saying that wordless ("abstract ") music is a problem, from this point of view, since it does not allow a univocal reference to God. This also applies to abstract painting, which cannot represent unequivocally God's face either. Evdochimov discusses this analogy, when he refers to the decline of painting by abstractionism, in a similar way to music:

"Non-figurative, informal, abstract art has  no ontological support and denies any real ob- ject. It is no red apple but redness in se, a colour spot endowed with a meaning understood only by the artist himself. Schopenhauer said that all ar ts are secretly inclined to "musicalness". Yet, music is the only art which is not based on the imitation of the shapes in this world".37

It is worth mentioning that word and music were not separated at first. They were split later and musicologists wonder whether music emerged from word or word from music?

In the beginning, music and words were so closely linked that when Saint Romanus Melodus com- posed the Kontakion of the Nativity, he also sang it  sweetly: "And everybody who saw and listened to it were surprised and listened to the sweet song, being attentive to the power of the chanted words".38

Saint Ephraem Syrus created a great number of homilies in rhythmed prose. The connection be- tween prosody and music was provided by rhythm. His memre was performed as a recitative, while the madrashe were sung response-like.39

Music and recited prayer are both characterized by order:

"Psalmodising is not necessarily singing, but an y uttered prayer acquires an inner rhythm and harmony which is a kind of singing. Only h asty prayer is devoid of this order and character- ized by disorder. The order of the words of a prayer exalts them above their limited meaning and creates the feeling that God is a mystery who joins  everything in a set order. The blessed feeling of His presence and help is emerging. Creation escapes disorder only united in God".40

Maybe it is not by chance that the important  treatise "De musica" of St. Augustine deals especially with language and prosody and only to a small extent with music.

The separation of music from speech has been cond itioned by the dividing of human perception: speech became the expression of the intellectual function, of the mind, while music voiced the affective function of heart.

A consequence of the segregation between music an d text is the relative indifference of the "musical contents" as to the "verbal contents". tef an Niculescu exemplifies the utilization of the melody of the same hymn for two ideologically antinomic texts, a "democrat" and a "totalitarian" one. Music did not disagree with any of texts. 41 In our field, this relative independence of music from the text carried by it resulted in a certain "desacraliza tion" of religious music during its history. In some cases it resulted in serious disfunctions of that kind of music, as the equivocal, ineffable character of music permits to adapt the most curious and discordant musical combinations to the sacred text.  Theology of the Sacred Music  should nevertheless be aimed at establishin g the canons of that music, in order to preserve its sacred character and to protect it from  the vulgarity of the profane. Certain doctrinal problems arise, since a theology of music should emerge both from the theology of the Church Fathers and from Church tradition. Yet there already exist several Christian traditions.


"Word and image are in dialogue, calling each  other, expressing complementary aspects of the same unique Revelation".42 The Word, the beginning of everything, is at the outset both of music and of pictorial images.

The ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writin g, on which the Semitic consonant alphabet 43 is based, represented words by pictograms. Subsequently t hese turned into ideograms and in the end signs acquired a phonetic value. Initially a word could not  be separated from its image or figure. As writing became abstract and acquired a phonetic character,  a splitting occurred between the written and the pictorial image. There also ensued a separation of perception, between the intellectual function (written word, letter) and the affective one (image). A certai n dual character of perception is preserved for a while by painting, where letter is replaced by a  figurative image, while music becomes abstract much quicker, word being replaced by a logical, abstract construction. We refer, to be sure, to European art starting with the Renaissance, rooted in the art forms of the mediaeval worship.

Therefore, painting has to be  figurative to offer a sacred image, the icon. Similarly music should use words to be sacred, a  sonorous icon. The face in the icon, the same as the meaning of words is meant for the mind, while the range of colours and sounds speaks to the heart. The intellectual and affective functions meet in the icon, the same as in  chanting. This union results in the prayer where, according to the Church Fathers, mind and heart  meet. Thus, the icon is revealed as prayer, the same as the chant as icon.

The equilibrium between meaning and sonorousne ss in music, the same as that between image and colour in painting, hence between a transcendental immaterial component and a material immanent one, matches the antinomic (dogmatic) character of the sacred music, the same as that of the icon. The abolishing of this antinomy, the disappearance of balanc e, may result in a risky deviation to one of the extremes:

a) Image or music is refused to the advantage of the transcendental principle, viewed to be irreconcilable with immanence, with leads to an aniconic or iconoclast art (as a consequence of a monophysitic attitude); historical examples are, on the one hand, the iconoclastic movement and the protestant principial iconoclasm, and, on the other hand, the removal of music from worship, requested by the Czech reformer Jan Hus. b) Transcendence is expelled from painting or music, to the advantage of a certain exces- sive realism (as a further consequence of  Nestorianism), emerging in painting and music starting with the Humanism of the Renaissance and ending with the exacerbation of affectivity during the Romanticism. This trend corresponds to a certain form of  idolatry where the Image and Likeness of God are replaced in art by man's face and passions. That "autonomous" man, who was alien- ated from Godhead.

It is worth mentioning that the absence of words  (or of chants), reached at the highest level of the inner prayer, pure prayer, does not mean a trend to a sonorous "iconoclasm". Neither is the recommendation to avoid all kinds of images or representations while praying a form of iconoclasm. On the contrary, these are related to the nature of pu re prayer, a higher stage of the negative apophatic theology, which prepares people for the sight of Godly light:

"It is an ecstasy of inner silence, a complete blank of thinking faced with the divine mystery, before the mind arrested by wonder should be flooded by the Godly light from above."44

Music is prayer and it observes its physical and spiritual laws:

"Prayer is a chant, that is why it gives joy, as it is not only the repeating of Jesus's name, but also an immersion in the endless world of meanings, love and sweetness it involves. It is move- ment in this world of harmonies and therefore  always new. The soul vibrates with this harmony and the mind enjoys its various shades".45

Chanting prolongs the prayer, as already shown. It  increases the religious essence in feelings, on an affective level, which expressed in words is inte llective. When chanting, soul and mind are united, and this union invokes the Holy Spirit:

"These psalmodies should be sung not only with the lips, but also with the heart. It is therefore essential not only to understand the son g, but also to echo its feelings, to grasp its es- sence with our soul and sing it as if it springs from our very heart. (...). In apostolic ages, only those who were in that state used to sing; the others followed suit and the whole congregation sang and praised God only with their heart. No wonder that the whole congregation was filled with Spirit. What treasures are hidden in the church songs, if they are properly performed!"46
"Saint John Chrysostom discussed the meaning of the phrase: «to sing to the Lord in your heart». The significance is not sing uselessly by  uttering mere words, while the soul wanders elsewhere. The blessed Theodoret adds: «He th at sings with the heart, does not set only his tongue in motion, but also awakens his mind  to understand what he says». Other Christian Church Fathers write about turning to God by prayer and consider that the best way is to have one's mind in one's heart. And what was said about t he congregation in the church is also suited for chanting psalms, individually. It may be done separately in one's room. The result is the same, if it is properly done, that is with great heed, understanding, and feeling, from the heart. And we realize that though the Apostle speaks about s ongs, he is thinking about any prayer to God. For this is the awakener of the Spirit".47

Therefore, the same may be said about prayer  and song. Terms seem to be sometimes synony- mous. Inner prayer and song define the two poles between which Divine invocation pendulates:

"Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs  with gratitude in yo ur hearts to God" (Colossians 3. 16). The words «psalms, hymns and  spiritual songs», refer to the vocal prayer, materialized in words, while «with  thankful hearts sing (...) to Go d» refers to the inner prayer, having one's mind in one's hea rt. Psalms, songs, praises, hy mns, choral odes are various designations for liturgical music. It  is very difficult to point to  differences among them, since all are fruits of the spirit in pray er. By humbling oneself in prayer , the spirit praises God, thanks Him and sends Him requests. All these manifestation s of the spirit in prayer are not to be separated..." 48

The meaning of the verb "to sing" is defined by the way we pray, that is by joining mind and heart, no matter whether we refer to the read or to the inner prayer:

"The second way of praying is to do it with one's mind and heart. The first way is also done so. Yet it is influenced by the words of an  already written prayer, while the second way springs right from heart and soars to God. Mose s prayer facing the Red Sea was such a prayer. The Apostle refers to this type of prayer in the  phrase: « sing in your hearts to the Lord full of Spirit». St. John Chrisostom explains this text as  follows: «Sing for the Spirit – that is not merely with your mouth but also full of heed, thinking from  your heart of hearts in front of God». Only this is the way one should sing to the Lord. The other way goes with the wind, the same as one's voice is lost in the air".49

The following text of prayer beseeches God to  grant us the inner union, which we cannot attain by ourselves:

"I have often sinned while singing, for my  lips uttered songs, and my mind thought of worldly matters. Lord Jesus Christ, help me repent. And have mercy".50

Cardinal Ratzinger has tried "to find one biblical text that sums up the way Holy Scripture sees the connection between music and faith".  51  He selects the following psalm verse, according to the Septuagint: "psalate synetos" ("O chant ye with understanding") (Psalms 46. 7). The second word might be translated by sapienter or by cum arte, that is in accordance with wisdom, or artfully. "With wisdom" means more than "with understanding".  It is the primacy of Logos , which makes demands upon our highest moral and spiritual powers. Artfully challenges responses to the best of a person's abilities. The doctrine of meaningful and harmonious singing is t hus founded, requesting people to fully give their mind and heart.52

Church music may spread the feeling of devoutness to God. Its aim is not the pleasure of singing but getting filled with the Holy Spirit:

"The coming down of the Spirit is not due to  our power, it depends only on the Spirit. When it occurs, it arouses our spirit, so that  God may be praised properly. We are free to de- cide whether we shall praise God in our heart, or  speak aloud for all to hear it. If you wish the Spirit fill you, then sing! Singing will arouse your  spirit, to be prepared for the Holy Spirit or for feeling His work. The Blessed Theodoret says that the Apostle refers to a spiritual ecstasy by the words: «be filled with the Spirit» (E phesians 5. 18). He shows the way to get it, «by praising the Lord with all your heart», «sin ging psalms, hymns and spiritual songs», that is by uniting words and heart. It is easy to understand that the main aspect is not the sweet sounds of the song, but its contents. The power to influence us resembles that of a text written with passion, which may arouse the same feeling within the reader. The feeling expressed by words is conveyed by words to the soul of the listener or reader. The sa me thing happens with church songs. The psalms, hymns and choral odes sung in the church are, by  their nature, full of pious feelings flowing to God, inspired by the Spirit. The Spirit of God has filled the persons of His choice and they fully voiced their feeling by singing. The person w ho sings properly a song, may grasp the author's feelings and make them his own. Being filled with  those feelings, he may approach a mood liable to get the working of the Holy Spirit and to adapt his spirit to it. And this is the importance of the church songs, to help us make our hidden spark turn into a flame. That spark is given to us by the Holy Mysteries. To lit it and make it turn into a flame – that is why psalms, songs, hymns and spiritual odes were created. They work on that  gift–spark in the same way as does the wind on the embers hidden under brushwood".53

If the prayer may be spoken aloud or inside us, so ngs may also be heard outside or inside. Here is the opinion of the Saints:

"Do no sing for the audience. Even if you are in a market full of merchants, you may turn to God from within and sing without being heard by any one".54
"When you are alone, you should both sing psal ms aloud, and pray with your heart. But if you are in a market or with other people, it is  not necessary to sing psalms aloud; do it in your heart". (Saints Varsanufie and John)55

In general, the Christian Church Fathers di d not dwell much on church music and did not emphasize its Christological character as they did fo r the icon. This is probably accounted for by the absence of restrictions on singing in the ancient Judaic law, as compared to prohibitions regarding visual representations. Moreover, Christendom was hurt  by the iconoclastic current, which had no proper correspondent in the field of music.

A possible definition of the sacred music, a ccording to the V-VI Oecumenical Council of Constantinople of 692, could be: "The church song means to praise Jesus Christ, son of God, who was seen and heard by the saint apostles, by honouring Him aloud by voice and song, according to His human name, so that, by understanding the grea tness of God the Word, we should remember by words his incarnation for our salvation".

More specifically, church songs represent a prayer  either silent or voiced aloud, in which we call Jesus Christ – the Word with our mind, while our pious feeling towards God overflies our heart.


People did not invent liturgical music. It was received as a gift from Heavenly Powers:

"The liturgy is not a thing the monks create. It  is already there before them. It is entering into the liturgy of the heaven that has always been taking place".56

The echoes of the angels' songs in human music actually mean a transfer from the spiritual to the sensitive. Saint Gregory of Nyssa, the same as other Church Fathers define heavenly songs as an order of the world, a harmony of the parts and the wh ole, a "music of the spheres" according to the Pythagorean phrase. This music may be perceived on ly rationally, as it exceeds the boundaries of the sensitive:

"The structure of the universe is also made up of various elements which may be observed one by one and whose ordered and immutable rhythm produce the harmony of the parts to- wards the whole. There results a too harmonious melody of the world, listened to by the mind, which is not associated in any way to the physiolo gical sense of hearing. The mind listens to the heavenly music in imitation of the bodily senses, but rising above them. I think that David also lis- tened to this music, (...) when he listened to the description of the glory of God, who made those heavenly harmonies".57

The heavenly harmony is the prototype of earthl y music. Man, as a mirror of Godhead, absorbs the music of the universe by his physiological ability to produce music:

"The mutual concord of all elements and their agreement, achieved with order, beauty and consistency, is the first and true music, the foremost model of music. It is this kind of music which is created by the ruler of the Universe as a prelude by means of the supreme word of Wisdom, while the artfully creates everything.  Then, if world is made up like a musical harmony produced by God, as « architect and builder» - according to the Apostle 58- and if man is a micro- cosm, made after the image of the Creator of the World, it is clear that what reason contem- plates in the macrocosm is the same to be seen in the microcosm". 59

The heavenly music was "heard" by prophet Isai ah in his vision, as he saw the six-winged seraphim shouting:

" Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isaiah 6. 3).

Saint John the Theolog similarly describes the song  of four living creatures, having six wings and bodies covered with eyes:

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come" (Revelation 4. 8).

These angelic hymns were taken over by the Victory Hymn (Sanctus) in the Liturgy.

The shepherds, witnesses to the Nativity, heard the Heavenly Host singing the first carol:

" Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests" (Luke 2. 14).

This song became the  Great Doxology (Slavoslovia)  of the Orthodox morning service and the "Glory" of the Catholic mass.

According to John Damascene, the Trisagion Hymn (" Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us") was listened to and "mysteriously  learned from the angels" by a child living in Constantinople, in the fifth century. The Trisagion Hymn, common to Orthodox practice, is present in all divine services. In addition to the Byzantine Liturgy, it is also encountered in the Gallican Catholic liturgy.60

The fact that people took over heavenly songs for divine services is deliberate. It is related to the dialectics of salvation, of getting sanctified by  likeness with God. For humans created by God in His image and likeness may rise to God only by this  likeness, after the path was opened by Jesus Christ, who took over our likeness by Incarnation. There follows a whole range of possible analogies between human and godly matters possible but not imposed, since man is free to choose his sanctifying. Church hierarchy resembles the heavenly one 61; the liturgy down here is similar to the eternal liturgy solemnized by Christ himself, the face painted in the icon reproduces God's spotless face, the church is a projection of the Heavenly Church and human choirs represent angelic ones.

This analogy is expressed in the Cherubic Hymn, introduced in the Liturgy in the sixth century: "We who mystically represent the Cherubim....". It is sung at the beginning of "The Great Entrance", the Eucharistic liturgy which may be joined only by the "initiated". This sanctions the "angelic" status of the baptized people who are sanctified and may part icipate in the Eucharistic sacrifice, becoming an "icon" of the heavenly hosts, the same as their music is the  sonorous icon of the angels' music. It is a joint attendance at the eternal liturgy solemnized by Christ Himself in heaven. This transcending to the Divine World, form of ecstasy, is achieved by liber ating oneself from daily cares, worldly desires and pleasures. When singing, one should "set aside all the cares of life".

The similarity between human and angelic choirs and their joint participation are described by St. John Chrysostom:

"What gift of Christ! The same praise is sung by the host of angels in heaven and the hu- man choirs on earth. Seraphim sing in heaven t he thrice holy hymn, the same praise is sung on earth by a multitude of people; the heavenly world enters into Holy Communion with the earthly world, Eucharist, happiness, chorus of joy...."62

A dogmatic content is revealed in the above-ment ioned songs, heard by prophet Isaiah and by Saint John the Theolog and especially in the Trisa gion Hymn: the Holy Trinity ("God is one in three Persons, a single nature, a power, a work, an energy common to the three Hypostases" 63) is rendered by mentioning the word "Holy" three times.  In the Cherubic Hymn, after "We who mystically represent the Cherubim", there follow the words "we  sing the thrice holy hymn to the life-giving Trinity". The thrice-holy hymn is meant for every person of the Trinity.

Since the Icon expressed a dogmatic Christological content, heretic teachers contested it. The same as dogma itself. The Trisagion hymn was also mo dified by those who denied the dogma of the Holy Trinity. This hymn taught by angels was sanctioned for liturgical music by the fourth Oecumenical Council of Chalcedon. In the fourth century, the  patriarch of Antioch Peter Gnafeus, a monophysitist, modified the hymn in a heretic way. Thus he inserted the words "who were crucified for us", between "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal" and "hav e mercy on us". This minor modification of the text had enormous dogmatic consequences. By that inserted phrase, the hymn no longer refers to the Holy Trinity but only to Christ, or the meaning of the Holy Trinity is distorted creating a huge confusion.

To combat Peter Gnafeus, St. John the Damascene says:

"The words added to the Trisagion by Peter  Gnafeus the fool are blasphemous because a fourth person is introduced and a difference  is made between the Son of God, an enipostatic power of the Father, and the crucified one, as if He were different from «the powerful one»; or it teaches that the Holy Trinity is punishable and that the Father and the Holy Spirit were crucified together with the Son".64

Saint Basil the Great points out the dogmatic character of music, when he speaks about the Holy Spirit who inspired the Book of Psalms:

"He joined the pleasure of singing to the  dogmas, so that without knowing, we should get the joy and beauty of what we hear as well as the benefit of the words listened to".65

In addition to the statement of the relationship between dogma and singing, the fact that liturgical music influences both the mind and the heart is emphasized:

"Hence, this is the cause which let those psalm songs full of harmony reach us, so that those who read them think that they are singing, but they actually improve their minds".66
Pseudo-Dionysius shows that the songs of praise prepare the participation in the Mystery: "The holy singing of the Psalms, which is an ess ential part of all hierarchical mysteries, should not be separated from the most sacred of the sacraments".67

"But the holy record of the heavenly songs, ai med at exalting the divine deeds and revela- tions and at glorifying the holy words and deed s of God's people makes up a collective song of praise and an exposition of divine work which ar ouses in all God-filled singers a mood appropri- ate to receiving and communicating every mystery of the hierarchy". 68

Church songs facilitate the connection among people and between people and God, being an ele- ment of communion based on the Eucharist:

"The religious songs which involve the whol e work of salvation harmoniously prepare our soul for the liturgical acts to be performed soon; the harmony of divine songs achieves a concord with heavenly matters, with ourselves and with  our fellow creatures, in a single harmonious choir; the holy reading of the inspired writings makes us understand the concise and secret es- sence of the deep and holy language in the Psalms, by their numerous and explicit images".69
"This song of praise is called  hymnology by some, the symbol of religion, by others, or the hi- erarchic Eucharist".70
Saint Basil the Great is of the same opinion: "Psalm singing brings with it whatever is best: love, which unites people who join voices; by joining the faithful in a single choir, the psalm  chases demons, calls the angels' help, provides an arm for night fears, peace for the day's fatigue,  a shield and comfort for the faithful men and one of the most appropriate ornaments for the faithful women".71
Singing brings peace and mellows souls: "And it often happened that those who looked  like wild beasts with anger lost their wild- ness as soon as they started singing psalms together with other people. The psalm is the peace of mind, the reward of peace, the calming of noise  and of wild thoughts. It quenches anger and keeps in check passions".72
"An old man said: reading, vigil and prayer makes  wandering thoughts stay still; hunger, tiredness and reclusion quiets down lust. Singin g psalms, patience and pity stop anger. If every- thing is done at the proper time and with moderation".73
Singing anticipates the Parousia: "Three great symbols dominate the liturgy of th is night of the Resurrection: light (the Pas- chal candle), water and the «new song», that is  the Alleluia... Granted, we shall not sing this new song in its fullness until we are in the «new wo rld», until God calls us by a «new name» (Revela- tion 2.17), until everything has been made new. Bu t we are permitted to anticipate something of this (beatific) newness in the great joy of the Easter vigil."74

Saint Augustine identifies a symbolical meaning of the "new song", in the psalm verse: " Sing unto Him a new song" (33. 3), namely "let us take off  the old man and put on the new man, the man of the new covenant".75


In the Byzantine liturgical practice, there are th ree classes of songs, different by their tempo:  ir- mologic ones, with a swift syllabical movement;  stikhiraric ones, with a moderate rhythm;  papadic ones (also called  asmatic, melismatic or kallophonic ), with melodies sung quietly and slowly. The last ones evince a special approach to the "musical time".  Meant for a certain pomp, these very ornamented melodies consist in the temporal extension of the sacred word by vocalization.

It is not pronounced as usual, but it is prolonged ve ry much. It is actually leaving the daily time and entering a different time, inside the word, a  sacred or mythical time, apparently revertible or anhistoric as tefan Niculescu might describe it: "In music the appearance of such sonorous events may be noticed; they may not be concatenated in a discur sive «historical» form, but in a way which creates the illusion of stagnation, of exceeding time". 76 The meaning may be: by the Incarnation of the Word in history, the Word is revealed as beginning and end  of history: "«I am the Alpha and the Omega,» says the Lord God, «who is, and who was, and who is to co me, the Almighty»" (Revelation 1. 8). Therefore He is not a part of our world, we are a part of His world.

It may be meaningful that the "Cherubic Hymn"  and the " Koinonikon" are papadic songs. The former is a song chanted by the faithful together  with the cherubim, the lat ter is sung while priests partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord – the most "sacred" moments of the Liturgy.

Prayer also experiences a time that differs from the usual one:

"Hesychast practices use this narrow gate, exper ience another kind of time. Leaving a greater lapse of time between insp iration and expiration, you live in another time, in a different rhythm".77

It is worth mentioning that those very ornament ed songs, similar to Western medieval vocaliza- tions, may stray from their liturgical function by their pomp, under certain conditions. It is revealing for liturgical time that divine services are long, full of repetitions and apparent monotony. Father Alexander Schmemann explains the divine services of Lent, dominated by interiorisation.

"We understand why services had to be long and apparently monotonous. We realize that it is practically impossible to pass from our nor mal frame of mind, almost wholly dominated by agitation, haste and cares, to this new mood, without getting calmer and acquiring a certain inner balance. That is why those that view divine service as an "obligation", and ask about the minimum necessary number of attendances or prayers (...), sh all never understand the real nature of the worship which raises us to another world – that  of God's presence. We are slowly carried to this world because the fallen human nature has lost the ability to naturally step into that world".78

Liturgical music is vocal in general. We shal l point to the few exceptions when discussing instrumental music. This is accounted for by the deep-going relation between word and music, meaning and sonorousness. Chants cannot be separated from words. Vocal music is prayer, and breathing makes it a vehicle of the soul, of man's spirit, begotten by God's spirit in Genesis.

The function of the musical instrument might  be that of prolonging the text content by musicalization. Its possible autonomization represented  a certain risk and it also could imply a profane spirit. The Eastern "ascetic" tradition avoided t he musical instrument, thought to be too material as compared to human voice. It also refused sculptures, too "carnal" as compared to the icon.

"Only human voice, expressing the likeness and link with the Logos, is thought to be liable to praise God. The instrument, the work of a creature, is not".79

The "ison", a steadily accompanying sound, a kind of  bourdon, sung in parallel with a tune, is the simplest form of polyphony, used in Oriental liturgic al music as early as the twelfth century. It seems that Cucuzel introduced it in papadic tunes. 80 The sign Ison means to repeat the sound of the previous note.81

In my opinion, the ancient principle of " The Same" (as opposed to "The other") may be identified here. From the angle of Christian Theology, it may be expressed by "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus, 3, 14), the symbol of One, "monad and unity" 82. In this way a tune accompanied by the  ison, represents the relationship between those who have  a physical existence (world, people, soul, prayer) and the One Who is their cause83, God.

The fixed character of the  ison is a stable point, on which we focus while singing a prayer, the same as in any prayer, the Name of God. There is also a pictorial argument: the continuous sound "may be compared with the golden background of icons"84, which represents heavenly light, the "colour of all glorious Christ" 85. The ison is like an aureola, because of its fixity and motionlessness. This sonorous aureola decreases when the ison evinces excessive mobility and ceases being an ison.


Up to the sixth century, the musical repertoire  was not too important and musical notation was not necessary. Later on, the system of symbols us ed pointed only to the ascending or descending character of the movement. As early as the twelfth century, a more precise notation of the intervals was introduced. It was called  neumatic86, underwent many changes but has preserved an intervallic character. It is worth mentioning that the nota tion of Byzantine music has never aimed at being exhaustive and precise. It was supposed to remin d singers of the melodies known from musical practice. Its role was mnemonic.

This notation granted freedom to interpret intervals. In Western notation, which uses staves, the measured distance between two points represents inte rvals. In the Byzantine notation, they represent movement, a musical gesture, an élan of the soul. The Western musical notation  on staves is linked to  fullness. The Byzantine one views the  void. These "voids" allow the soul to express itself. That is why Byzantine music performed according to the psaltic notation is much more fluctuating and vivid, less standardized. The term neuma – intervallic graphic symbol – comes from the Greek pneuma, which means wind, breath. Pneuma actually is God's Breath, or Spirit, the Holy Ghost 87. The musical interval allows the singer to find the Holy Spirit in this soul élan.

Moreover, the intervallic notation emphasizes  relationship. There are no independent, isolated sounds in se. Their links and dependences may remin d the singer and the listeners of the  communional meaning of liturgical music.

The interval may have very different lengths, d epending on the scale of the voice. Panîru points out that there are ten different  types of intervals for the second 88, instead of the three known in Western music (minor, major, augmented). This imp lies a great sensitivity in distinguishing the microintervals, a technical reflection of the spiritual gift of differentiation.

I cannot help thinking that the modern trend  of transcribing Byzantine melodies on linear notation (staves) results in the simplifying standardizing and "vulgarization" of music and in draining the religious feelings. It also implies t he fragmentation of the musical discourse and the breaking of the community of faithful.


Byzantine music is not exclusively based on its "notes" or intervals. To a large extent these support "flourishes", ornaments. The intervals are marked by vocalic signs, ornaments by consonant signs. The latter are always supported by vowels. It is an intertwining of more or less stable sounds, the vowels, and transient elements,  the consonants. It is again a revelation of the  discursive and praying meaning of liturgical music. The praying meaning is not rendered by the too "material" vowels, but precisely by consonants. The former provide the  physical aspect of the melody, its "skeleton". The latter endow it with "spirit", a metaphysical dimension. This is the same as in speech, where the message of the words is provided by consonants, while vowels only ensure their support.

Treatises of Church Music explain these signs by suggestions, by metaphoric formulae, altogether irrelevant for people who are not conversant with the tradition of that music:

"Varia ... lays emphasis on the subsequent note, to make it differ from the previous and the following one (...).  Omalon ..., called «smooth»,  produces a gliding  smooth voice, not strong and rough, that is a kind of wave in the throat increasing fast and decreasing gradually (...). Antichenoma «produces the sound of oligon , as if the voice were emptied, raising it and then bringing it back to its place»".89

That is why, while  vocalic signs may be rendered in the Western notation system, the  consonant ones can be transcribed only by a radical simplification. Such an approach sacrifices them.

Byzantine music belongs to a semi-oral tradition, where notation reminds the performer of the tune he already knows from musical practice. This  accounts for the great diversity of performance styles, both of individuals and of schools. This music is learned only by connecting it to the oral tradition of performing Byzantine music. It is actually possible only when the singer knows the religious tradition of the Church. In the same way, the cr aft of icon-making cannot be acquired unless the spirituality, which produces that icon, is assimilated.

From this standpoint as well, the transcription of  Byzantine music in linear notation and its per- forming according to those standards will result  in its depletion and simplifying. This will influence not only musical structures, but also the very spiritualness expressed by that music.


It is generally known that silence (pause} has a  musical significance. In classical music, this holds good both for the rhythmic detail and especially for the ensemble form. General pause acquires a special meaning just by the absence of sound.

In liturgical practice, silence is fully expressed in the divine services of Lent. In that period, when sadness and penance prevail as "the Bridegroom is taken from us" (Mathew 9. 15, Luke 5. 35), the Holy Liturgy has not been performed ever since the first Christian centuries, as it symbolized the direct pres- ence of Christ. The usual paradoxical logic of the Church Fathers has established, however, that the faith- ful could receive the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Foreblessed Sacraments is thus performed, which is both absence and presence of God. Sadness and joy prevail at the same time. Father Alexander Schmemann 90 calls it "a bright sadness", as it marked by the darkness of fasting and by special rites of light 91. It is but natural, since after Christ's resurrection, He shall never be absent, and darkness shall never be total: "For darkness will not be darkness with Thee, and night shall be bright as the day" (Psalms 138. 11).

This special Liturgy includes two particularly  solemn moments. The first is not visible for the faithful, as the priest raises the Eucharist consecra ted the previous Sunday – from the Holy Table and brings It to the Proscomide. The second is the carryin g of the Holy Sacraments to the altar, by passing through the church aisle. Both these acts, marked at  the beginning and at the end by the sound of the bell, are carried out in profound silence. The meanin g of this deep silence is nothing else than absence and waiting for the Sacrifice of the Word, which renders His presence even more perceivable.

Generally speaking, silence, the same as fastin g, darkness, head bowing during genuflexion reveal their meaning by penance, recollection of death, the archetype of  katabasis; words and songs, end of fasting, light and head rising during genuflexion, fi nd their significance in atonement, resurrection, the archetype of anabasis. Both are indispensable parts of inner transformation, the release from the former man and his renewal, which is expressed by the Greek metanoia.

Another meaning of silence, no less important, was mentioned when speaking about the absence of the word and of chant on the highest level of  the inner prayer, while waiting for the Godly Light from above.


The Christian Church Parents use two types of wording when referring to liturgical music. Some are positive, explaining its meaning and advocating fo r its utility. Others are negative, limiting the "liberties" of this music or even denying it altoget her. Though these references seem contradictory, they do not annul each other, but throw light on di fferent aspects of the issue, by the need to keep a balance, a  sine qua non  condition in contact with the transcendent world. Here is Saint Augustine's opinion on this issue:

"And, yet, when I recall the tears shed in the first moments acquiring faith while listening to the songs of Your Church, I am still impressed, not by the song proper but by the words sung so clearly and so appropriately modulated. And I acknowledge the great utility of this persistent cus- tom. I thus waver between the danger of pleasure and the usefulness of redeeming effects (...). Yet, whenever I am more impressed by the tune than by the words, I confess that I am sinning and deserve to be chastised. I would rather not hear the singer".92

We have especially referred to the use of music in worship and to the  dogmatic arguments in its favour. There are, however, many voices that war n about the danger – known also to St. Augustine - that this music might estrange people from God,  turning into temptation and "sin". Here are some evidence from Patristic texts and Philokalia:

"Singing aloud the psalms means pride, since you feel that you alone are singing, while your brother does not. Then this hardens your heart and does not let you be humble. If you look for humbleness, give up singing". (...)  Singing has brought sinfulness not only to laymen but also to priests..."93

The absence of humility results in a sinful world:

"Woe to us, if monks will give up the powerful  gifts provided by the Holy Spirit and will start singing, for no humility and devoutness can ar ise from troparions. (...) Christians are going to alter the Holy Gospel and the writing of the Saints Apostles and Godly prophets, by destroy- ing the Scripture and by writing troparions and Greek words"94

Music is worldly, even devilish:

"If fish is caught by a fisherman with a warm, in the same way the devil uses troparions and songs to lead monks to vain glory, merrymaking and even lust."95

Abbot Varsanufie from Optina Monastery emphasized the danger that music may divert people's attention from the words. It becomes "material", in se, and expresses human pride:

"Music draws man's attention and thought fr om words to melody. Praying is thus pre- vented. Therefore music is not useful for psalm sin gers either. If they can sing finely vain glory pervades them. If they cannot disappointment and  bitterness fill their hearts. Notes bind singers hand and foot. While singing, there is neither  free creation, nor feeling nor prayer. The soul keeps quiet. And only sweet voices are heard... No meaning... No content... Words lose their significance. No one pays heed to them... And no one prays any longer"96

At the turn of the nineteenth century, he was alrea dy aware of the temptation of modern grand choirs:

"A certain visitor asked the old man: «Are there nightingales here?». He answered: «I don't know. I did not bother to listen to them. But there  are wolves. And they all sing in a choir. The same as modern choirs.»"97

In all spiritual matters, the most important thing is moderation and sobriety. Prayer and calm are important, while singing is an exterior act, which brings trouble.

To a certain extent, music is necessary if it struggles against laziness:

"You should not give up singing for this could  make you weak and idle. You should follow the example of those who sing just a little."98

Let us pose the following problem: why do Church Fathers voice so different, even contradictory opinions, about the role of liturgical music? Some point to the utility of church music, others emphasize its uselessness and even dangerous character. By studying the history of music and of religious worship, we find two trends on liturgy, which emerged soon afte r Christian faith became official in 313. Here is the explanation provided by Makarios Simonopetrite:

"The spiritual tradition shall evolve accordin g to these two antinomic modalities: the tri- umph of the Christian civilization which assumes  the transfiguration of the world, on the one hand, and the sighful expectation of the foreign  monk "in the vale of weeping" (Psalms 83. 6) of the future Parousia of the Bridegroom, on the ot her hand. The history of the Byzantine worship faithfully mirrors this dialectics. It essentially  consisted in a progressive synthesis of these two trends, which may seem completely opposite at first sight.
In metropoles and especially in Constantinople, the so-called cathedral or asmatikos (sung) service developed. It granted much importance to songs, bright ceremonies and festivals, meant to manifest here and now the universal dimensi on of Christ's Resurrection. We may call this trend «the Teophanic Pole».
At the same time, in the monasteries of Egypt, Sinaï and Palestine, a more austere service was created. Songs were expelled, to be replaced  by psalm reciting and Scripture reading. The rules of fasting turned into genuine rituals;  services became longer and acquired a penance-full character. This aspect, which we may call «the Ascetic Pole», did not exclude the bright charac- ter of the previous pole. It gradually assimilated it,  until it prevailed. It was thus emphasized that, though Christ rose from the grave, we have sti ll to be cleansed and struggle against everything which is not Christianized, marked by the sign of the Cross, in order to fully partake of the glory of His Second Coming."99

By the ninth century the two trends started to merge:

"The end of the great Christological heresies corresponds to the fusion of the two poles – the Theophanic and the Ascetic, the Constantinople one and the Palestine one – of the liturgical spiritualness in a vast synthesis - ritual, theological and spiritual, at the same time..."100

This synthesis is the balanced formula used fu rther in liturgical music. The pendulation between the two poles is, however, permanently felt.


We have stated that music emerges from the word, is born with it and is vocal. We have voiced thus especially the tradition of music in the East ern Church. An altogether different source of music, possibly equally important, is the musical instrument which produces sounds with the help of mechanic stimuli. Is the musical instrument able to praise God in any way?

In Biblical ages, art had a syncretic character.  Songs were separated from instrumental music, or from dances. The awareness of the existence of two distinct fields appeared during the Baroque period, when the musical instrument acquired its independence from the vocal music. The "pure music" was founded then, being free to use everything  that comes to one's mind, without any words" 101. The emancipation of the instrument represents a li beration from words and corresponds to the period when music turns to a secular, profane content, no longer looking for a direct link with the Divine.

The distinction between the instrumental and t he vocal in European music was materialized at the end of the sixteenth century by different musical genres: the  sonata (from sonare) and the cantata (from cantare). Many European lan guages mark this difference by  different terms: to sing (Fr.  chanter, Germ. singen) and to play an instrument (Fr. jouer, Germ. spielen).

This does not mean that instrumental music is  newer than the vocal one; the contrary may be true. In the Judaic tradition, the first instrumentalist was Jubal.

It is interesting to notice, that the instrumental music was created by Jubal, a descendant of Cain, the son of Lamech, the both who murdered (Genesis 4.  8, 4. 23), while the origin of the vocal music (God's praise) is related to Enosh, descendant of Seth, the other son of Adam and Eve, «given» them to take the place of Abel (Genesis 4. 25). The Lord w as pleased only with the descendants of Seth and Enosh: Enoch, "walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away" (Genesis 5. 24), Noah "found favour in the eyes of the LORD" (Genesis 6, 8). Saint John Chrysostom commented the excerpt from Genesis (6. 2) about "the sons of God", who "married the daughters of men" by identifying the former as Seth's descendants and the latter as Cain's.102

The Bible mentions a whole range of musical in struments, whose functionality is less clear than that of the human voice, but still involved in the  area of doxology. According to Psalm 150 (3-5), God should be praised with wind instruments:  trumpets103, flutes, strings: psalteries104, harps105, percussions: timbrels, tuneful cymbals and cymbals of jubilation. "Let every breath praise the Lord" (Psalms 150. 5).

Yet, can musical instruments praise the Lord?


It is well known that pr ophet David played a  psalterion or harp, the Hebraic lyre with 5-9 strings.106 St. Basil the Great says that, in contrast to  the lute and lyre, the sounds of the psalterion "come from above", marking it more spiritual.

"Indeed, in lutes and lyres, the sound emerge s from under the place where strings are struck. Only the psalterion – out of all musical instruments - receives sounds from its upper part. This urges us to look for things from above and  not indulge in passions, because of the pleasure imparted by music".107

The musical instrument, especially that with plucked chords – preferred by the Church Fathers is sometimes a symbol of the human body, in which Jesus Christ was Incarnate:

"Blessed be the One who made our senses so that He could play our harp what birds could not sing! Praised be the One who saw us d ebased like beasts by our anger and lust and [therefore] came down from heaven and became man, so that we could become heavenly".108

It may also represent the heart pervaded by prayer:

"Follow the example of the guitar player. Fo r He bows his head, listens carefully to the song and moves the quill with his heart. And in no  time, the strings are struck, the guitar plays and the player enjoys sweet sounds".109

We are like a musical instrument, which the Spirit induces to vibrate and then we pray:

"The song is like the sweet sound of the guitar, touched by someone from without. The soul needs the secret speech of the Spirit to be able to pray. For «we do not know what we ought to pray for» (Romans 8. 26). Only the Spirit may help the one who prays".110

Saint Augustine identifies the ten commandments of the Law with the ten strings of David's harp, mentioned in Psalm 91. In order to sing, people should observe the commandments. 111 When you sing and play a musical instrument, as accompaniment, it  means that your lips praise God and your acts agree with your voice. 112 Saint Augustine also thinks that the tambourine covered by stretched skin is the symbol of the crucified Christ.113

Beyond that symbolistics – very subjective sometimes – there is still a fundamental question for a theology of music: which is the relationship between instrumental music and words?


To describe this relationship, one should analyse four possible cases:

a) The instrument is the extension of the word

Prophet David used his "harp" to accompany son gs in the temple, as it was customary in the Kings' age. 114 It was meant to amplify the harmonic cont ent of the selected word, enhancing the emotional aspect, which supplements the meaning of  the words. This modality is still preserved in the Western Church, but the Eastern one gave it up long  ago. It probably continued the anti-instrumental Hebraic tradition after David, when instrumental music was less developed than the vocal one.

b) Instrumental music involves a latent word

In Orthodox liturgical practice, the only accepted instruments are: the simandra (toaca), the bells, the slight bells of the censer and sometimes the chimes  that draw the attention of the faithful to the most important moments of the divine service.

A recent study has pointed out that bells and  especially the simandra provide the primary back- ground for the prayer, by making it  start and by being part of it. 115 The simandra symbolizes God's word, who calls "the faithful to sacrifice for entering the Kingdom of Light"116

Moreover, the simandra involves a latent word by its rhythmic formulae. It is prayer proper. This is provided by the correspondence between rhythmic formulae and architectonic structures of simandra performing and the liturgical song 117 and it is corroborated by evidence from monk- performers:

"The first simandra beating means the first  heart beating for Christ. That sound means prayer. When monks and nuns listen to that first beat in the silence of the monastery, they utter a single word: «toac»118. At that moment, that word means prayer".119
"Oftentimes, simandra alone is prayer; it often is accomp anied by prayer. It depends on how deep I am plunged in devoutness thinking of God".120
The simandra also has a Christological character: "The simandra is the means to make you hear a heavenly voice, a music beyond everything human (...). I try to bring this earthly music created by humans close to the angelic music created by angels. Consequently it is a link between earth and heaven. For me it is a link between the human and the divine, between what is seen and what is not seen, between what is known and what is not known".121

Other aspects of the biunivocal relationship be tween the simandra and the prayer refer to the prayer of the hand when making the sign of the cross:

" The sign of the cross and making the sign of the cross is a prayer, also called The Prayer of the Cross. The shape is imparted by the uttere d words ("In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen") and the matter is represented by the motions of the hands".122

We may speak of a certain type of visual projection of the word, of prayer on the wood of the si- mandra in the very moment of beating it. It is ag ain the written and the uttered word. Divine Names are also written while beating the simandra.

"Beforehand I used to beat «Iisus» [Jesus] or MD (Theotokos). Writing those letters on the bell-board. I know for whom I do beat and God receives it".123

The chimes, used especially in the  Liturgy of the Gifts,  are used to highlight the most solemn moments of the divine service, the carrying of the Holy Gifts, also mentioned in the section on "Silence". Yet, in those moments of absence of the Sa crifice of the Word and of the word of sacrifice, the chimes symbolize Christ's  sacred and secret presence,  paradoxically present in the Holy Gifts. Besides, at those moments, the chimes also become a substitute of our word, of our despaired shouts "from the depths of the grave" (Jonah 2. 2), deprived of the Light of Life. Therefore, the chimes conceal a latent word in the silence, which they fill.

The modality of inscribing the words of a prayer in the instrumental practice is by rhythm, the graphic projection in simandra beating, the filling of the absence of a word. It is a kind of codification of the word in a cipher language. Thou gh this language is not wholly perceived by the others, it does not aim to be. It is a prayer, addressed to God, and is reminiscent of those "tambourine-beaten" languages of Oceanic, African or Thai peoples. Those "conventional sonorous ideograms" 124 use certain sounds and rhythms to unambiguously codify whole texts,  based on certain cipher principles, as linguistic substitutes. In the West, this way of codifying  verbal speech was represented by musical Baroque figures. Yet these did not reach the degree of univocalness and intelligibility of tambourine languages.

Another possibility of "suggesting" words could be based on the "Christian symbolism of num- bers".125 Within a Christian area, the repetition of a  musical formula might have the meaning of the "thrice-holy hymn", like that of the angels, such as: "Holy, Holy, Holy", or the " Trisagion Hymn".  The symbolism of numbers is not characteristic of t he Christian space only; it is universal and depends on the sense it acquires in a certain culture. The cr oss is also a universal symbol, but it is also the symbol of the Christian sacrifice, par excellence.

Speaking of the symbolism of the musical instruments, it is possible that the triad bell, simandra and chant may represent the Holy Trinity. Thus,  the bell could represent God's voice, which is like thunder:

"Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth" (Job 37. 2).
"«Father, glorify your name!» Then a voice came  from heaven, «I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.» The crowd that was there and hea rd it said it had thundered; others said an an- gel had spoken to him" (John 12. 28-29).

The simandra is the symbol of the Word, which expresses a finite evolution, a placing in time, ren- dering the idea of the "Logos incarnate in histor y". And the chant, which is the divine service proper, with the greatest time extension, could be the symbol of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, Who founded the Church of Christ in the community of the Apostles at the Pentecost.

c) The music with program

The asserted verbal content is outside music; the  link between text and music is artificial and subjective. It is common only to learned music.

d) The word – independent music

It is thought to be "pure", "abstract" music,  with an extratheological, profane content. It represents music itself, in the modern outlook. With few exceptions, it is encountered also only in learned music.

The present study is not meant to be a work on  the theology of the sacred music, but rather a pleading for this.

This study might be supplemented with an essay  on "secular music", pointin g to its relationship with the theological, seen as an essential guidemar k for a music emerged within European Christian culture. Another essay might deal with the "disfunct ions of liturgical music", deviations of music from its doxological mission.

A theology of the sacred music should define the role of music within the liturgical ceremony. The absence of such a theology accounts for severe alienations of church music from its liturgical function, by the contamination with other types of music, with a deeply profane character. The role of liturgical music is not to ornament or adorn the divine service. In the same way, the role of the icon is not to decorate the walls of a church. Liturgical music is founded on the Word: "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1. 1). Music emerges in its relationship with the Word, with Logos. Music is word, and the word is music. Music is prayer. It sometimes anticipates or continues the liturgical texts in the heart and memory of the faithful. It corroborates, supplements and sometimes replaces the words of a prayer.

Liturgical music enters in a relation with Heavenly Music, which existed even before Genesis. It is not a symbol of that music. It is this very music. By its agency, earthly world enters in communication with the Heavenly World. The essence of music is divine and this is proved by Incarnation: "The Word became flesh" (John 1. 14). The liturgical sacrifice  was based on the fact that God spoke through His only begotten Son, the Word, to people, who hear d His Voice and called His Name. Now people call God by His revealed name, shouting with all their being, spirit and body. Thus, liturgical music, the same as the Icon, reveals its dogmatic content: "Christ  is God and man". We, people, are called by  doxology to a condition of deification.

A theology of sacred music could mean the establ ishing of restrictive music canons, first of all, specifying the conditions music should meet, to sat isfy theological and dogmatic requirements. On the other hand, too obvious distortions of worship  music might be eliminated. Yet, beyond those canons, the supreme criterion in identifying theological music is the presence of the Spirit. Music may be monodic or harmonic (polyphonic), simple or ornamental , Russian or Greek, vocal or instrumental. The important thing is the spirit it conveys, which exists or not. That  spirit does not depend on the applied theological – musical criteria. It can only be recognized as such.

Father Scrima, witness of the Spirit's presence  in the World (he often quoted St Paul's "Quench not the Spirit" - 1 Thessalonians 5. 19), 126 points to such an example, when he speaks about the "road to Antim", which he discovered during the "Time  of the Burning Bush", half a century ago, together with other members of the clergy and of the intelligentsia:

"A certain Russian spirit fortunately perva ded liturgical solemnities. It is common knowl- edge that Russians alone had adopted the harmonic style for Church music, as it was akin to their specific genius. The other Orthodox peoples an d the other Byzantine Churches traditionally prefer the homophony, regrettably threatened by dubious folklore. The profound liturgical chant of Antim did not depend only on art and skill but,  as it was revelled to us from the very begin- ning, on the very mystagogy of the spiritual itinerary. It w as there the Church Fathers were dis- covered under their doxological aspect, before studying them systematically. The great Canon of Andrew of Crete (eighth century), sung in four  steps in the first Week of Lent, provided first a musical enlightenment of the mind. It kept resounding both while we collected ourselves and while we spontaneously and vividly discussed and commented  it. Antim seemed at that time to vibrate like a hymnological sanctuary..."127
As known, this spirit of the Monastery St. Antim existed since recently...

1 The Holly Bible, King James Version, London, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Majestie, 1611, rev.: 1629, 1638, 1762, 1769, 1873 (KJV).
2 The Psalter According to the Seventy (The Orthodox Psalter), Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1974; This Version of the Psalms shall be quoted here after.
3 Scrima André, Timpul rugului aprins. Maestrul spiritual în tradiia rsritean, Editura Humanitas, Bucureti, 1966.
4 Scrima, p. 67.
5 Scrima, p. 69.
6 Scrima, p. 69.
7 Dionisie pseudo-Areopagitul, Despre numele divine. Teologia mistic, Iai, Institutul European, 1993, p. 147.
8 The Holly Bible, New International Version Bible, International Bible Society, 1978, rev. 1983 (NIV); This Version of the Holly Bible shall be quoted here after.
9 Pr. Stniloae, Dumitru,  Teologia moral ortodox,  Bucureti, Editura Institutului Biblic i de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, 1981, p. 39.
10 Evdochimov, Paul, Arta icoanei. O teologie a frumuseii, Bucureti, Editura Meridiane, 1992, p. 35.
11 In terms of musical acoustics, a sound evinces: a)  transient processes, which represent noises that accompany the sound attack, and b) the permanent regime, the sound after its stabilization; see for example: Urm, Dem.,  Acustic i Muzic, Bucureti, Editura tiinific i Enciclopedic, 1982, p. 341-352, 357-361.
12 Sbornicul. Culegere despre rugciunea lui Iisus,  vol. 1, Episcopia ortodox Alba Iulia, p. 178,  Romanian  version of Higoumène Chariton, L'art de la prière, Abbaye de Bellefontaine, 1976.
13 Teodoreanu, Nicolae, Caracteristici muzicale ale recitrii sacre în Biserica Ortodox Român,  în "Revista de Etnografie i Folclor", vol. 43, 1998, nr. 3.
14 Benner, Peter, Gesungenes Dogma, Ortodoxe Kirchenmusik und Liturgie, in "Musik und Kirche", 6/1998.
15 Panîru, Grigore, Notatia si ehurile muzicii bizantine, Bucuresti, Editura Muzical a Uniunii Compozitorilor, 1971, p. 11.
16 Archimandrite Kallistos (Ware),  Introduction in Higoumène Chariton de Valamo,  L'art de la prière , Abbaye de Bellefontaine, 1976, p. 32.
17 Daniel, Constantin, Scripta aramaic, Bucureti, Editura tiinific i Enciclopedic, 1980, p. 88.
18 Kontakion to the Sunday, 1st week of Lent, in Triodion.
19 Uspensky, Leonid, Teologia icoanei, Bucureti, Editura Anastasia, 1994, p. 103.
20 Bria, Ion,  Dictionar de teologie ortodox , Bucureti, Editura Institutului Biblic si de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, 1981, p. 81.
21 Uspensky, p. 99.
22 Uspensky, p. 104.
23 Uspensky, p. 99.
24 Evdochimov, p. 35.
25 The Holly Bible, KJV.
26 The Holly Bible, KJV.
27 Pr. Stniloae, p. 39.
28 Sf. Efrem Sirul, Imnele Nasterii i Artrii Domnului, Sibiu, Editura Deisis, 2000, p. 30-31.
29 Sf. Efrem Sirul, p. 31.
30 Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph, The Image of the World and of Human Beings in the Liturgy und Its Expression in Church Music, cf. Miller, Michael J., Cardinal Ratzinger on Liturgical Music,
31 Bria Ion, p. 209.
32 Archimandrite Kallistos (Ware), p. 38.
33 Sbornicul, p. 28.
34 Sbornicul, p. 31.
35 Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph,  In the Presence of the Angels I Sing Your Praise,  in "The Regensburg Tradition and the Reform of the Liturgy", p 138.
36 Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph, Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditati ons for Every Day of the Year,  San Francisco, edited by de Sr. Irene Grassl, 1992, cf. Miller, Michael J.
37 Evdochimov, p. 73.
38 Proloagele, vol. 1, Craiova, 1991.
39 Ic jr., Ioan I, Prefaa in Brock, Sebastian, Efrem Sirul, Sibiu, Editura Deisis, 1998, p. 6.
40 Pr. Stniloae, Dumitru, in  Filocalia, vol. 11, Bucureti, Editura Institutului Biblic i de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, 1990, p. 629.
41 Niculescu tefan, Local i global în muzic, in "Muzica", 1999, no. 4, p. 23.
42 Evdochimov, p. 35.
43 Daniel, Constantin, Scripta aramaica, Bucureti, 1980, p. 74.
44 Pr. Stniloae, Teologia.... p. 211.
45 Pr. Stniloae, Dumitru, in  Filocalia, vol. 8, Bucureti, Editura Institutului Biblic i de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, 1979, p. 227.
46 Sbornicul, p. 29-30.
47 Sbornicul, p. 30.
48 Sbornicul, p. 27.
49 Sbornicul, p. 30-31.
50 Chants of Octoechoes, TONE 3, Sunday evening, in Triodion.
51 Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph, Sing Artistically for God: Biblical Directives for Church Music, cf. Miller.
52 Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph, Sing Artistically for God.
53 Sbornicul, p. 29.
54 St. John Chrysostom, in Sbornicul, p. 31.
55 Filocalia, vol. 11, p. 629.
56 Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph, In the Presence of the Angels, p. 130.
57 Sfântul Grigore de Nyssa,  Scrieri, II part, Bucureti, Editura Institutului Biblic i de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, 1987, p. 140.
58 Hebrews 11. 10.
59Sfântul Grigore de Nyssa, p. 140-141.
60 Branite, Ene, Liturgica special, Bucureti, 1980, p. 270.
61 Dionisie pseudo-Areopagitul, Ierarhia Cereasc, Ierarhia Bisericeasc, Institutul European, Iai, 1994.
62 Johannes Chrysostomos, Homilie in Js. I,1, cf. Wolfram, Gerda,  Byzantinische Musik, in "ijdschrift van het Institut voor oosters christendom", 1996, p. 1-2.
63 Bria, p. 386.
64 Sf. Ioan Damaschin, Dogmatica, Bucureti, Editura Scripta, 1993, p. 110-111.
65 Sf. Vasile cel Mare, Din cuvîntul înainte de psalmi.
66 Sf. Vasile cel Mare.
67 Sf. Dionisie pseudo-Areopagitul, Ierarhia, p. 94.
68 Sf. Dionisie pseudo-Areopagitul, Ierarhia, p. 95.
69 Sf. Dionisie pseudo-Areopagitul, Ierarhia, p. 95.
70 Sf. Dionisie pseudo-Areopagitul, Ierarhia, p. 98.
71 Sf. Vasile cel Mare.
72 Sf. Vasile cel Mare.
73 Pateric, Alba Iulia, Episcopia Ortodox Alba Iulia, 1990, p. 432.
74 cf. erban, Gh. I., Studiu introductiv la Sfîntul Augustin, Confesiuni, Bucureti, Editura Humanitas, 1998, p. 56.
75 erban, Gh. I., p. 56.
76 Sava, Iosif,  tefan Niculescu i galaxiile muzicale ale secolului XX , Bucureti, Editura Muzical a Uniunii Compozitorilor i Muzicologilor din România, 1991, p. 176.
77 Evdochimov, p 121.
78 Schmemann, Alexander, Postul cel Mare, Univers Enciclopedic, 1999, p. 34.
79 Benner, Thomas.
80 Ploeteanu, Nifon,  Muzic Bisericeasc pe Psaltichie i pe note liniare, pentru trei voci,  Bucureti, Tipografia Joseph Göbl (Gutenberg), a crilor Bisericeti i Carol Göbl, 1902, p. 36.
81 Ploeteanu, p. 84.
82 Sf. Dionisie, Despre numele divine, p. 48.
83 Sf. Dionisie, Despre numele divine, p. 48.
84 Souris, André, Mélodie, in "Encyclopédie de la musique", vol. 3, Paris, Fasquelle, 1961, cf. Firca, Gheorghe,  Ison, in "Dicionar de Termeni Muzicali", Bucureti, Editura tiinific i Enciclpedic, 1984, p. 247.
85 Evdochimov, p. 196.
86 Wellesz, Egon, La musique byzantine, în "Histoire de la musique", (edite d by Roland-Manuel), vol. 1, France, 1960, p. 633-634.
87 Bria, p. 134.
88 Panîru, p. 207-276.
89 Pann, Anton, Bazul teoretic i practic al muzicii bisericeti, Bucureti, 1845, p. 55-58, cf. Panâru, p. 197.
90 Schmemann, p. 32.
91 Branite, Ene, p. 346-347.
92 Sfîntul Augustin, Confesiuni, p. 374.
93 Pateric, p. 217-218.
94 Pateric, p. 192-193.
95 Pateric, p. 423-424.
96 Careful Varsanufie, Bucureti, Editura Anastasia, 1994, p. 26-27.
97 Careful Varsanufie, p. 27.
98 Filocalia, Bucureti, Editura Institutului Biblic i de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, vol.7, 1977, p. 189-190.
99 Simonpetritul, Makarios, Triodul explicat. Mistologia timpului liturgic, Sibiu, Editura Deisis, 2000, p. 18.
100 Simonpetritul, p. 29.
101 Mersenne, cf. Thibault, G.,  La musique instrumentale au XVI e siècle, Italie, Allemagne, France,  in "Histoire de la musique", 1960, p. 1200.
102 Sfântul Ioan Gur de Aur,  Omilii la Facere  (I), Bucureti, Editura Institutului Biblic i de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române, p. 262.
103 Trumpets =  shofar (made of ram horn, yielding a rough nonmusical sound);  chasozra = silver trumpet, see  Dtv- Atlas zur Musik  (ed. by Michels, Ulrich), vol. 1, München, Kassel..., 1977, p. 163, and Cognac, Maurice,  Simboluri biblice. Lexic teologic, Bucureti, Editura Humanitas, 1993 p. 318-321.
104 Kinnör probably used by David, see Cocagnac, p. 321-324.
105 nbel = lute, see Cocagnac, p. 321-324.
106 Dtv-Atlas zur Musik, p. 163.
107 Sf. Vasile cel Mare.
108 Sf. Efrem Sirul, Imnele Nasterii, p. 33.
109 Filocalia, vol. 7
110 "Filocalia" vol. 4, Sibiu, Tipografia Arhiecezan, 1948 p. 297.
111 erban, p. 56.
112 erban, p. 56.
113 Chailley, Jacques,  40.000 ani de muzic Omul descoperind muzica,  Bucureti, Editura Muzical a Uniunii Compozitorilor din Republica Socialist România, 1967, p. 74.
114 Dtv-Atlas zur Musik, p. 163.
115 Cristescu, Constana, Chemri de toac, Bucureti Editura Academiei Române, 1999, p. 69.
116 Cristescu, p. 77.
117 Cristescu, p. 166-173.
118 It beats the simandra.
119 Cristescu, p. 68.
120 Cristescu, p. 68.
121 Cristescu, p. 213.
122 Cristescu, p. 45.
123 Cristescu, p. 76.
124 Mâche, François-Bernard, Musique, mythe, nature, ou les dauphins d'Arion, Klincksieck, Paris, 1983, p. 37-39.
125 Cristescu, p. 173-175.
126 The Holly Bible, KJV.
127 Scrima, p. 152.