Cantors of the Byzantine Catholic Church
See the following pages for information about the cantors of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Metropolitan Church, consisting of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh and the eparchies of Parma, Passaic, and Phoenix.
These pages are being maintained to help us (1) identify and honor our cantors; (2) maintain mailing lists and other contact information; and (3) identify particular needs for cantors in our parishes. If you have additions or corrections, need to contact a particular cantor, or are seeking a cantor for your parish, please contact Deacon Jeffrey Mierzejewski (412 735-1676).
Cantor, Asistant Cantor, Student Cantor - what's the difference?
For purposes of cantor education and formation, the Metrolitan Cantor Institute uses the following definitions:
Cantor: an individual who leads the singing of the people at divine services, starting each hymn and setting pitch and tempo.
Assistant cantor: an individual who helps lead the singing, but does not serve as cantor for entire services.
Student cantor: an individual who is learning to be a cantor, but is not yet fully trained to be an assistant cantor, or is not currently in one of our parishes.
Retired cantor: an individual in the parish who has served as cantor in the past, and may do so occasionally, but does not currently lead regular services. Retired cantors may be asked to help out in parishes without a cantor, or in training new cantors.
Where there are several cantors, one may be the head cantor and take overall responsibility for the church singing. In this situation, the other cantors are sometimes called "associate cantors." We don't use these terms at the MCI since they don't easily correspond to levels of required training, nor do they apply in all parishes.
Who's in charge?
In any parish or mission, the pastor or administrator of the community (under the direction of the bishop) has the final say in all matters involving parish worship.
In some parishes, there is a "head cantor" who coordinates the music used in the parish; in other parishes, the priest may assume this role, or it may be shared among several cantors for different services. But at each liturgical service, there should be a cantor who is willing and able to start the singing, setting pitch and tempo, choosing melodies where there are several options, and adjusting the singing as necessary throughout the service.
Our senior cantors - our Professors
In the early history of our Church, cantors who received comprehensive cantorial training in Europe were known in this country as professors. These men led church singing, taught religion classes, directed plays, and often organized church services when clergy were scarce. Over time, other particularly influential cantors were also called by the title, “Professor.”
In order to better preserve and foster our chant tradition, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute has been working with the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh to collect information about these important leaders in our church. Look here if you would like to help!