Chanting

I had an interesting conversation with one of my parishioners this past week.  I had a funeral, and as is typical I sang a couple hymns at the graveside for the committal (Lord, Let at Last Thine Angels Come, etc.).  My parishioner, who pretty much comes to church every week, commented afterwards, “Pastor, I know your wife has a beatiful solo voice, but I never knew you did as well!”

At the time I found the comment very odd.  I mean, I chant pretty much everything in the divine service except the sermon and the announcements.  From my perspective, I’m singing ALL THE TIME.

But not from the perspective of the parishioner.  From their perspective (at least hers) the chanting is so transparent that she doesn’t even think of it as singing.

This is as it should be.

Chanting isn’t singing, at least not in a soloist sense of the terms.  Yes, many of the same principles of singing are in place (breathing, not pushing, coming at the note from the top, etc.), but it is really heightened speech.  The pacing should be pretty much the same pacing as conversation.  Maybe a little slower, but not that much.  It highlights the importants and beauty of the text.

It should be transparent.

What think ye?

One thought on “Chanting

  1. While I agree, many do not. I’ve encountered the opposite, where the pastor chanting anything is perceived as robbing the congregation (or soloists) of their voice. Any reasonable arguments about pacing, inflection fall on deaf ears.

    In the case in mind, all voices are highly amplified. That ruins the transparency and frankly makes the perception of chanting as soloist singing inevitable.

    Are you amplified?

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