Alternative Worship

Last night we celebrated the feast of St. James with the Liturgy of St James. A beautiful Liturgy and I am sorry we do not use this one more often then the one time a year. But we did have about 25 people in attendance, it was a truly blessed evening. In an upcoming episode of Facing East Podcast, Fr. Greg and I talk about the Liturgy of St. James, and other stuff. Look for that soon.

I have been posting about things we can do to make liturgy a little accessible to our people and as usual this meets with some concern. I like all of the give and take that has been going on here on the blog, and much to my surprise everyone has been very nice to each other. I guess we can disagree and still be civil to each other.

Whilst reading the blogs this morning I came across this article from the New York Time about and Episcopal Church in Connecticut starting an alternative Sunday Evening Service. Now, I don’t think that this exact style would work in an Orthodox Church but a Sunday evening Liturgy might be a good idea. Give this a read and comment here.

The question for today is this: Can we celebrate the Liturgy without singing? I mean can we have a “low mass” for lack of a better term. Let’s say we have a Sunday Evening Liturgy or a Saturday evening Liturgy, and by Liturgy I mean Eucharistic Liturgy. Can we celebrate this liturgy spoken and not sung? Now if you are going to say something about the canons do include a reference to the canon you speak of, and remember these are for guidance and not in the Western sense of the law.

Let the comments fly!


  1. i attended this service last night and did not mind not having the singing, it allowed me to hear what the priest was saying which was rather refressing. i love music in a service but just because you don’t have a cantor does not mean that people do not know the basic responses and are willing to do them. sometimes in this country we can’t just be still and listen to what is being said you. just watch the news and they have running strips under the announcer and noises to fill the quite spots. i found last nights service very spiritual it was nice to just be still and quiet and pray. linda

  2. It would certainly be physically possible to conduct a Byzantine Rite Liturgy without singing, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to. The music of the Byzantine Rite is one of it’s major strengths! In the ACCA, most of the (Syriac Rite) liturgy is sung, but we generally speak the readings, the Creed, and the Our Father, as well as most of the pre-communion prayers.

  3. I personally like the idea of a low Liturgy. We all should be going to Church to worship God not be entertained. Do you really think God would not accept the praise being offered because it is not sung?
    Coming from the Roman Church I remember the low Mass, from what I remember more people responded to the priest than they do during a high Mass or Liturgy.
    A priest can not celebrate the liturgy alone, he needs at least one or two other people in attendance doing the responses. I would think it best to have a large percentage of those present responding and praising God rather than one or two. Liturgy is suppopse to be participatory by the people and not just there in body.
    In addition I have been to several churches where if they spoke the responses it would definitely sound better, St. S.M.W. comes to mind.

  4. Fr. P.: Nothing is better than when people are praying together, or singing together, without an organ. A soloist or(cantor)if you can afford one, during communion, or before Liturgy is nice. Otherwise, someone is needed to assist people who must be encouraged to participate. Prayer is not entertainment. It should not be loud or obnoxious. (It is not a race to see who can read the fastest). It should be in the language that all can understand, even if that means reading it together. That is why a low-mass is desireable, such as on Wed. evening, when guests fit into a service, celebrated only once a year.

  5. Byzantine Catholics (particularly Ukrainians) used to have “low” Masses regularly in this country, specifically in the Northeast. Some may still, though that is changing. I confess, I cannot imagine having a spoken Byzantine Divine Liturgy.

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