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Apolytikion of the Church of the Resurrection

Thou hast revealed the earthly majesty of the dwelling place of the holy glory, O Lord, as the brilliance of the firmament on high. Make firm its foundation unto ages of ages, and receive our fervent supplications which are offered to thee, there in, through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O life and Resurrection of all.

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Chanters and the Choir

The vast majority of the Divine Liturgy and other worship services are sung a cappella. Members of the laity are invited to be chanters and members of the choir.

The chanter (or singer) and the choir are the mouth of the Church, i.e., of the society of believers who are praying in church; while singing prayers and hymns, he pronounces them not only for himself, but in the name of all who are present in church, and as all who are praying pronounce their prayers through the mouths of the singers, these last also are the mouth of the Church. Chant unto our God (Ps. 46:7), the Holy Church invites them, but chant ye with understanding (Ps. 46:9).

The chanters and the choir stand before the One before Whom the angelic ranks stand and walk with fear, covering their faces! You sing praises to the One of Whom all the heavenly powers ceaselessly proclaim: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth! Understand how high the work of the chanter and choir is. Understand and admire the mercy of God, Who allows even earthly sinners to bring praise to Him! This heavenly work is the work of an angel and not of a man having unclean lips, as the holy Prophet Isaiah expressed, having heard heavenly singing: Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people having unclean lips (Is. 6:5). And you, infirm, weak, and sinful, have been entrusted with such a great work. This talent which has been entrusted to you by the Lord, is a talent which you must bring forth and increase by employing it with understanding. With all humility and fear towards God say mentally to your soul: Behold, my soul, the Master entrusts thee with a talent: receive His gift with fear; and thou hast heard the condemnation of him who hid his talent, O my soul: hide not the word of God, but proclaim, sing of His glory, increase the gifts of grace entrusted to thee, and thou shalt enter into the joy of thy Lord (Stichera on Lord, I have cried and on Lauds, Great and Holy Tuesday).

The Lord is not slack concerning His promises (II Peter 3:9), (i.e., will not delay to fulfill them) to come again and exact an account from His slaves, whom He entrusted with His goods, His gifts and talents; take care, that you not hear the dreadful condemnation: Take from her My talent, which she didnt wish to bring forth with great labor, and cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness (cf. Matt. 25:28, 30). The great labor of a chanter and choir consists in this, that all the strengths which have been given to him from the Lord's talents he unremittingly applies to the glorification of God. Sing to the glory of the name of God, sing not only with lips and voice, but sing with heart, sing with mind, soul, will, desire, zeal—with all your being. This is what it means to chant with understanding. The singing of the chanter and choir passes over to the hearts of those who are praying; if the singing proceeds from the heart, it meets the heart of the listener and so influences him that it is able to rouse him to prayer, to incite reverence even in those minutes when the heart itself is distracted and hard. Often it happens that those who enter the church without any eagerness toward prayer, from compulsion or from propriety, begin to pray fervently and tearfully, and leave the church in quite another frame of mind, in a spirit of tender feeling and repentance. Such a revival is produced in them by the magnificent service and fine singing. The chantors and choir strive with all their strength to concentrate attentively on the words which they pronounce; pronounce them in such a manner that they come from the depth of their souls, which is singing together with their lips. Then the sounds of the vivifying current of their hymn will pour into the souls of those who hear them, and these souls, being raised from the earthly to the heavenly, having laid aside all earthly care, will receive the King of Glory Who is borne in triumph by the Angelic Hosts. Will you believe my words if I tell you from the narratives of the Holy Fathers that not only the human soul can be softened and moved by good spiritual singing, but even animals, those speechless creatures, somehow instinctively bow before it?

Have you ever chanced to read the life of the Athonite monk St. John Kukuzelis? There are mentioned the following two events from the life of this great singer. Once he was pasturing the monasterys herds of sheep and goats. (Having entered one of the Athonite desert monasteries, John hid his position in the imperial court, calling himself a simple shepherd, and thus was sent to pasture the monasterys herds in the desert.) While sitting near his flocks at pasture, John began to sing the divine songs he had formerly sung in the imperial choir. His melodious voice flowed in the open desert, and John surrendered his whole soul to the singing, resting in the thought that he was alone in the desert and no one was hearing him. Meanwhile, his sheep and goats left off grazing and surrounded their singing shepherd: as if holding their breath, they stood motionless before him, directing their eyes to him as though fascinated by his angelic singing. Behold deeply spiritual singing, coming forth from the depths of the soul and conscious mind! It is able not only to inspire the rational soul and lift it towards its Creator, but to touch even speechless and irrational animals.

Once, according to custom, John sang the Akathist to the Mother of God together with other singers on the right cliros. After the vigil he sat down in a stall (a monks seat) in front of the icon before which they sang the Akathist, and being weary he slumbered lightly. Suddenly a gentle, sweet voice woke him with the words: Rejoice, O John! John jumped up; before him stood the Mother of God in the radiance of heavenly light. Sing and do not cease singing, she continued, and for this I will not forsake you! At these words the Mother of God placed in Johns hand a gold coin and became invisible. Do you see of what great honors those zealous singers are thought worthy while still here on earth, who not only with their lips, but also with heart and mind sing of the Lord and His Most Pure Mother! What a wonderful and great gift—the gift of a voice and the ability to sing! They were given to us for this, that with them we might both glorify the Lord ourselves, and incite others to do the same.