March 3, 2014
Jordanville, NY: PaTRAM Institute Master Class at Holy Trinity Monastery Concludes with Hierarchal Liturgy

From February 23-27, the Patriarch Tikhon Russian American Music Institute (PaTRAM) held a Master Class for the Patriarch Tikhon Male Choir at Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary in Jordanville, NY. The Master Class was centered around choral workshops with Maestro Vladimir Gorbik, choir director at the Moscow Representation Church (Metochion) of Holy Trinity-St Sergius Monastery.

At the workshops, Master Class participants, including the Holy Trinity Seminary Choir under the direction of Reader Nicholas Kotar, studied four-part harmony and an English and Slavonic repertoire. Above all, the Master Class focused on singing spiritually, in keeping with PaTRAM’s characteristic desire to unite professionalism with prayer.

On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the Master Class participants sang the divine services in honor of the Holy Equal-of-the-Apostles Saint Cyril, Teacher of the Slavs. Vespers, Matins, and Divine Liturgy were led by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, co-served by monastery clergy.

During the communion of the faithful on Thursday morning, Archpriest George Zelenin (rector of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Paterson, NJ) delivered a sermon to the faithful on the life and missionary labors of St. Cyril. His sermon read, in part:

"Today Christ’s Church holds festival and celebrated. This is the 1,045th anniversary of the blessed repose of Saint Cyril, Equal-of-the-Apostles, Enlightener of the Slavs. What a paradox in Orthodox thought: a man dies, and the Church celebrates. It would seem that death should be a source of sorrow, and the Church celebrates. But this is no coincidence! After Christ’s Resurrection, there is no more death. And everything in our Orthodox understanding confirms this victory over death! Note: when we celebrate the memory of the saints, we never use the word ‘death,’ but ‘repose,’ moreover ‘blessed repose,’ or ‘dormition,’ which means to fall asleep. This means we do not die, but pause our existence only for a brief moment, that we might be reborn unto new life…

"Recall the parable of the talents. Every man, each of us, is given certain talents… How many each of us gets is not at issue, but what we do with them in our lives. This is the question of questions ‒ do we multiply them, do we return them to our Master, or do we do the opposite, ingloriously burying them in the ground? This is not what took place in the life and mission of the future Apostle to the Slavs. He swept away from before himself any temptation of a worldly career, and made the one correct choice, putting his talent in the Lord’s service, going to the people to preach the word of God. It was namely this talent that he multiplied and carried through his entire life, that at the end of his days he might report to his Master: ‘Here, Lord, I have brought them; I have brought these, my talents, as many as I could multiply in my life. I give them all to away, returning them to You, because they are not mine! They are all Yours, O Lord! They do not belong to me…

"When St. Cyril begins the most significant calling of his life – returning, multiplying the talents he had received from God ‒ in the monastery on Mt. Olympus he creates the Slavic alphabet. Its linguistic basis, its words, he took from the dialect of the Byzantine Slavs, which was itself a fusion of the most varied languages of the tribes, from the east and west, from the north to the south… And this language becomes comprehensible for all Slavs! And then follows the calling ‒ to enlighten the people. This mission was so successful, that it became an object of jealousy for those who wished to teach the Slavs in Latin, Greek, or Hebrew. Only these languages were recognized by the Catholic enlighteners. St. Cyril pointedly called this the ‘trilingual heresy.’ Noting this, he argued ‒ Does not the Lord let the rain fall and the sun shine on all? Does not every breath praise the Lord? He recalled the words of the Psalmist as he debated them, proving what to us today seems a completely obvious truth ‒ that it is absolutely necessary to praise the Lord in the language of every people. Does it not say in the text of Holy Scripture, that every tongue will give praise unto the Lord? The best proof of this was the unbelievable success of the enlightenment of the Slavic peoples…

"Here most of all it is fitting to recall, that God and the Church have their own logic toward life. Let us remember that, in a single year, not long ago, both His Holiness, Patriarch Alexey of Moscow & All Russia, and our abba, our Primate, Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory, left this life. They left this life together, having accomplished the most thing of their lives, the labor to which they were called: uniting the once fractured Russian Church, reconnecting those once broken ties. Having accomplished their obedience, they were called home by the Lord. This was a sign that you have done that for which I, God, have summoned you! For this reason, repose is no sorrow! It is the Church’s triumph! It is the glory of the Church, as it was in this case: St. Cyril fulfilled his mission, and departed for the Lord.

"Today a remarkable thing is taking place. The work once done by St. Cyril ‒ the enlightenment of the Slavs ‒ find a completely new and remarkable incarnation. Today the Church Slavonic language itself preaches Christ. Look at our conference today, when here in America people come to the Orthodox Church because they have been captivated by the beauty of the Church Slavonic tongue, united with this marvelous hymnody. The language itself now preaches Christ, and truly God’s Spirit breathes wheresoever it wills. My beloved brothers and sisters – today is a great triumph, a great joy: nothing in the Church is a coincidence. And so today it is not coincidental that your conference is here, not coincidental is the visit of our First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, and not coincidental is our joint joy, our joint triumph. Amen!"

Upon completion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion greeted Maestro Gorbik and the Master Class participants, thanking them for their wonderful singing and commending them on dedicating their time and efforts to glorifying God through liturgical hymnody.

Republication of materials must include a reference to: 
"Eastern American Diocese"

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese