Saturday, November 10, 2007

Byzantine Chant

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Last Sunday, we went to the western edge of Thessaloniki to the old Byzantine church of the 12 Apostles, which was founded around 1320 by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Niphon. Our Byzantine chant teacher, Manoulis Yiannopoulos, is the Protopsaltis (head chanter) there, and he has been asking us to come visit him there every since we started out lessons about 2 months ago. The church is located just inside the western edge of the old walls of the city (see the third photo). Of course, today, the city is much bigger.

The church is amazing – including some of the original, beautiful mosaics inside. Our plan is to go back next Sunday – if I do my homework, I’m supposed to help sing the Great Doxology in the Plagal of Fourth mode.

Besides that, there’s not much exciting happening. We’ve both been very busy working. The academic year has finally started, and I managed to get all my paperwork done for enrollment, forming a dissertation committee, etc.

I’ve been blessed to work on translating a new book about Elder Paisios. Elder Paisios is EXTREMELY popular here in Northern Greece. Even Greeks who have little or no association with the Church know and revere him. They’ll say things like, “A couple of my friends knew him and they’re sure he’s a saint.” The book, “The Life of Elder Paisios the Athonite,” is a big one – about 700 pages long. I’m doing about 50 pages. I’ve heard that it’s the definitive Elder Paisios biography, and I’m sure it will be very popular in the US once it’s published. Several of the Americans here are working on it – there’s a real push to get it to the printers ASAP. To whet your appetite, I just translated this quote, which I thought was good, and which I will leave you with for the moment:

He [Elder Paisios] dealt with each soul with discernment, avoiding extremes and partiality, and handed out the appropriate medicine. For the same problem in different people, he gave different solutions. He was not a steam-roller. He said to someone: “Whatever I say to you, I say it for you. And if you say it to someone else, it won’t help; in fact, it will hurt. Watch out for this.” This was the main reason he did not like to be tape-recorded. He knew the disposition, the receptivity, and the resistance of each person, and he spoke to them accordingly.

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