fr john finley


Authentic Church Music

By Rev. John Finley, B.M., M.A., M.S.T. 

2002 Conference on Missions and Evangelism
The Gospel in Song: Music, Missions and Evangelism
August 30-September 02, 2002

Just as an authentic icon makes visible for us, the invisible Kingdom of God, so too, authentic Church music makes audible for us the inaudible song of the angels around the throne of God.

And just as an icon of Christ or the Theotokos differs in style from nation to nation, and from one century to the next, so too, a musical setting of a hymn to Christ or to His mother differs in style from nation to nation and from one century to the next.

Because we respect the tradition of the Church, and because we know that no culture or no era stands in isolation from another in Church History, we seek to develop Church art in a living continuity with the past, realizing however, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church to which we are united, is not simply the Church of the past, but also of the present and of the future.

Our Patriarch Ignatius IV commenting in his book The Resurrection and Modern Man on the Apocalyptic verse "Behold, I make all things new" emphasizes that God comes into the world from the future.[1] So, too, should our music, and iconography be made new from generation to generation, not in the sense of radical innovation or novelty, but new according to the renewal of the Holy Spirit in the Church. We must trust that the Holy Spirit will reveal the mind of the Church in every generation and in every nation as the faithful apply the great commission not only to the spread of the Orthodox faith in thought, word and deed, but also in Christian art.