Last Saturday, February 22, 2020, from 2-4 PM at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, PA, Deacon Jeffrey Mierzejewski gave a publication presentation and workshop on our church singing, covering:
- The role of the cantor in our church singing
- The melodies that make up our plain chant, and where they came from
- Our paraliturgical singing (spiritual songs) for use outside the liturgy
- Our church’s history of singing improvised (“folk”) harmonies as a normal element of our services, and how these can improve our worship
As part of the meeting, Deacon Jeff talked about the new hymnal which is in preparation by the Metropolitan Cantor Institute, and gave participants copies of the Great Fast section of the draft hymnal, with text and music in both English and Church Slavonic. Everyone had a chance to sing through hymns both old and new, and also to purchase copies of the draft hymnal (at least the part containing traditional hymns; a second section of “new hyms” is still in preparation.)
In the last past of the workshop, Deacon Jeff explained the various voice parts in traditional harmony-singing, and those present had opportunities to sing the simple 2-part “Alaska Alleluia” used in the Orthodox Church of America, followed by one of our best known spiritual songs, the hymn to St. Nicholas (“O who loves Nicholas the Saintly”) in four parts.
Here is what we did; skip to the 6:00 minute mark to hear the final result.
A seven minute lesson in harmonic singing
Overall, those present seemed satisfied with what they had heard and learned, and questions were asked and answered about the new hymnal, and how it was assembled. Extra copies of the printed hymnal will be available from the Metropolitan Cantor Institute for $20 postpaid, as long as copies remain.
Similar presentations are being planned for the Eparchies of Parma (on June 20), Passaic, and Phoenix. Pastors who would like to host a church music day should contact Deacon Jeff at at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 735-1676.
A similar meeting is planned for the Eparchy of Parma in Cleveland on Saturday, June 20, and meetings in the Eparchies of Passaic and Phoenix are under consideration.