To open our eyes to the different messages that surround us, to open our ears to what our music is saying to us, and to bring the beauty and valuable message of liturgical music to today’s youth.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Praise the Lord with the harp; make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy. For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves the righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You.
-Psalm 33 1:5, 20-22
- Note cards or sheet of paper for each participant
- Pen or pencil for each participant
- Clips of 5 different songs (one or two should be church hymns in English)
- Copies of the lyrics to each song
- CD or Cassette Player for music
Icebreaker “That’s The Impression That I Get”
Pose the following questions to the group. Accept all answers and reflect back.
- What kind of music do you like or listen to?
- What do you like about that genre of music?
State (paraphrase in your own words)
We are influenced daily by different things: parents, friends, television, and music. Chances are we all listen to music. We have our music in our homes, cars, schools, and on television. Just like our clothing or the way we speak, our music says a great deal about who we are and what we believe. Sometimes, music gives the wrong impression about who we are. Therefore, let’s take a look at what we listen to and see what it might say about us.
Depending on the size of the group, participants can respond alone or work in small groups.
Each piece of music is played as each person reads the lyrics. Do not announce or write down the title of the song or artist. This activity is most effective if the lyrics to a couple songs contain questionable (not vulgar) content.
After each song clip, have the participants write down their impressions. If you like, use two or three basic questions which are to be used to react to each song. For example:
- What is your first impression of this song?
What is the message that is being sent in this song through the lyrics and music?
What do the lyrics and music promote or support?
If you listen to this type of music, what type of impression do you think it leaves on you and those around you?
Small Group Activity
Break the Young People into 3 Groups and give each group a passage to discuss. Have each group consider how this passage impacts their choices in music. After enough time has passed have each group report back.
Group 1: Matthew 15:18-20
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.
Group 2: Matthew 23:26-28
Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Group 3: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Discuss (accept all answers and reflect back)
What kind of a message should the music we listen to have according to the Bible passages?
How did listening to Byzantine music make you feel?
Why do you think people are not into listening to Byzantine or Liturgical music?
What are the benefits of listening to Byzantine or Liturgical music?
State (paraphrase in your own words)
The truth is we are bombarded with music with great beats or awesome hooks, but the message is either lacking or very inappropriate. Thankfully, in our Orthodox Christian tradition, we never have to worry about the appropriateness of our music.
Byzantine music, as well as other liturgical music, has multiple benefits.
Historical: Byzantine music offers a glimpse into our history as Orthodox Christians. It is a connection with our past that is much deeper than doing an 80s music flashback.
Spiritual: These hymns enhance and assist our spiritual growth and connection in our Liturgy and other services of the Church.
Educational: The hymns of the church are an excellent way to take a look at the theological meaning of many different things in our church. The hymns talk about the nature of Christ, the Trinity, the way we worship, etc.
Inspirational: Even in the deepest and saddest moments of our faith, such as the Crucifixion and burial of Christ, the hymns of the Orthodox Church are triumphant. This is such an important component of our Orthodox music tradition. You will not find the self-pity and generally depressing themes of some pop music. Instead, you will find inspiration through the reality of struggle and perseverance that Christ exemplified in His own life.
Knowing all this why is important that we make Byzantine Music a part of our lives?
How can we do this?
Wrap Up (paraphrase in your own words)
So music is a part of all of our lives. But types of music vary greatly. We have music that edifies our soul and others that does not. It is not necessary for us to stop listening to the music that is on the radio but it is important for us to be aware of the messages that this music is sending us and how it effects us. It is important for us as Orthodox Christians to integrate Church music into our lives. This is our Challenge to you: try to find ways to bring this music into your life each and every day.
Closing Prayer (teach them how to chant)
O Lord, save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance.
Grant victories to your rulers
Over their adversaries.
And by virtue of Your Cross,
Preserve Your commonwealth
-Apolytikion of the Feast of the Holy and Life Giving Cross
Contact: Eva Kokinos