H.G. Bishop Serapion on New Hymns and Inculturation

In this video, H.G. Bishop Serapion discusses the topic of new hymnological compositions to replace Protestant songs, as well as the inculturation of worship in America.

Summary of key points:
- Any new hymnological compositions should “take from the same spirit” of our existing Orthodox chant. There should not be a “kind of schizophrenia” between existing Orthodox chant and any new composition (as if they represented two distinct kinds of worship).
- If we separate out two kinds of worship, after a while, the traditional Orthodox chant will become foreign to us and we will be unable to enjoy it. H.G. gives the example of how we thought adding instrumental accompaniment to the chants of the Church (on CDs for people’s cars or on television) would make them more attractive for people, but on the contrary, it created “two kinds of chant”, leading to the unaccompanied chant inside the Church to feel “foreign” to us.
- To ensure new compositions bear “the spirit of the chant”, prospective composers should have gone deep both in theological understanding and in the chants of the Church, not only rote knowledge of the chant but a deep understanding of its inner spirit.
- When the North American bishops met in Florida, they discussed how our worship might be inculturated in America. They decided that there should be a “bringing together of the two cultures”, a gradual and organic movement from culture to culture, such that there is neither an abrupt disconnect from our previous Tradition nor should we completely ignore the new American context we find ourselves in.
- This way we fulfill our responsibility to reach out to the American community and cater to a convert’s needs.