Today's guest post comes from Michael Guirguis - a dear friend and founding member of STSA who has since moved back home to Atlanta, GA. As an ordained subdeacon, Michael has invested his life to making Coptic hymns more accessible by recording them in English (see CopticHymnsInEnglish.com). He also just launch a new podcast called MEET & RIGHT, which aims to help you apply the Liturgy to your daily life. If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
“How much longer left in the liturgy?”
I have asked numerous renditions of this question to myself and have probably displayed my irritation and boredom of the Liturgy through my body language for countless Sunday mornings. Going to Liturgy on Sunday morning is just what you do as an Orthodox Christian.
For the majority of my childhood, my Sunday morning ritual consisted of mumbling the hymns half asleep, checking out to see if my friends got to church yet, and maximize the time we kneel down during Liturgy. As I reached junior high, I began to find an interest in the hymns, and it didn’t hurt that it made the Liturgy go by quicker.
Before I knew it, I was that deacon that walked into church with a binder of hymn notes and gave a look to the deacon that screwed up my favorite hymn that is only sung once a year! Knowing the rites and hymns of the church became my favorite hobby, and was only a hobby. As I was wrapping up high school, I began to start asking myself:
"What's the point of all these rituals and hymns? Why is the Liturgy so boring and repetitive?"
It was through certain mentors in my life that sparked a journey of questioning my relationship with God. If I knew the Church is nourishing me toward my Heavenly Father through the Divine Liturgy, how come I could not see that? I knew I was missing a link to transcending my hobby of knowing the rituals and hymns to utilizing them in building myself into the image of my Savior.
God LOVES music. He loved hearing David go at it with his harp. God loved using music to bring Joshua and His people victory. And God loves hearing music from you and me. Music allows words to penetrate from the mind to the spirit, and this can’t be more true when it comes to hymns.
Hymns are simply my conversation with God put to music. It elevates words of praise and Scripture to engage our entire being in talking with God. Music, along with all the other motions and visuals occurring throughout the Eucharist, transcends me in liturgical worship.
Chanting Coptic hymns in English transforms my liturgical experience and how I talk to God. Fusing my native tongue of English, and the native tongue of my soul, music, together makes liturgical worship real and personal.
What allows you to gain more from the liturgy? What are your questions and thoughts about Orthodox liturgical worship?
Let me know and your feedback may turn out to be the next episode on the Meet & Right podcast!