Greetings of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Silver Jubilee International Festival of Orthodox Church Music

It is with great pleasure that we convey herewith the warm greeting and prayerful wishes of the Mother Church of Constantinople to the International Festival of Orthodox Ecclesiastical Music (Hajnowka 2006) on the occasion of its 25th jubilee celebration to be held in Poland from May 9-16, 2006, under the esteemed patronage of the President of Poland together with the artistic patronage of Krzysztof Penderecki.

It is truly remarkable that over 500 hundred choirs from some 32 countries, representing diverse races and religions throughout the world, will assemble with one purpose and a common vision, namely the expression and exposition of the sacred music of the Orthodox musical tradition, at this historical jubilee moment. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is pleased to be represented at this event by the choir directed by the brothers Gregory and Peter Papaemmanouel from Drama, Greece.

The complex roots of the Orthodox liturgical and ecclesiastical music date back to earliest Judaeo-Christian sources, while evidence of Christian hymnology may be traced back to the Gospels of the Evangelists Mark and Matthew, as well as the letters of St. Paul and the Revelation of St. John. Who can remain unmoved by the magnificent creations of the antiphonal and congregational developments, or the composition of troparia and kontakia through the centuries! Who is not stirred in the soul by the imagery of Ephrem the Syrian or Romanos the Melodist! Who is not educated to the core by the canon of Andrew of Crete or the psalmody of John of Damascus!

Indeed, in the Apostolic Church, the terms “choir” (choros) “communion” (koinonia) and “church” (ekklesia) were used almost synonymously. This already indicates a profound connection between song and doctrine in the Body of Christ. It also denotes an essential dimension of music, which serves to unite those who sing and those who hear, those in heaven and those on earth, the Church triumphant and the Church militant. Music is by nature a vocabulary of fellowship and communion.

In many ways, however, singing provides more than purely aesthetic enjoyment to those who happen to be listening. It responds to a deeper, spiritual chord in the human soul and reflects the mystical tone of the heavenly kingdom. The spiritual poets believed that the first sound of humanity was in fact expressed through song. And the Church Fathers claimed that music defines the language of the age to come. It is the way the heart communicates with its Creator.

It is, therefore, our joy and privilege to extend to the organizers and participants, as well as the numerous attendants of this unique celebration of Orthodox ecclesiastical music, our sincere Patriarchal and Paternal blessing. May this jubilee festival be to the enchantment of all those present and to the glory of the loving Creator of all.






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