This is Why We Chant in June and Sept.

In chapel today the chaplain said that the mystery of the incarnation is beyond comprehension and that’s why we sing so much at Christmas: We can’t explain it but we can sing about it in praise and wonder to God.

I don’t want to put words in the chaplain’s mouth, so let me be clear that he did not say the following, but I was a Presbyterian long enough to know that Presbyterians pride themselves in their ability to explain stuff and to be able to present a clear and complete theology that helps Christians understand their Christianity.

It occurred to me this morning during chapel that this is precisely why the Orthodox sing and chant almost continually, not only at Christmas and Pascha, but also in June and September. The mystery of God’s gift for us in Christ is beyond our comprehension. We Orthodox don’t do much systematic theology because God’s ways are, quite frankly, beyond us, but we sing and chant a lot, in December and April, and in June and September (and Feb, Mar, May, etc.). We don’t write much systematic theology, but wow, do we write a lot of prokeimena, kontakia, and troparia (which, by the way, are frequently theologically profound and mysterious at the same time) which get chanted in church day after day and week after week.