Theology of Ecclesiastical Music

On January 30, 2020, Fr. Maximos Constas delivered a presentation at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (GOA) titled Sing to the Lord a New Song: The Three Hierarchs and the Theology of Music. It was recorded and the video is linked to below.

In his presentation—tragically short due to the limitations of the program—Fr. Maximos mines for us the writings of the Three Hierarchs (Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom) as they relate to the theme of music. Particularly revelatory (literally) are the connections made between angelic song and worship and our own. There is much in this theology of music that is pertinent to our own day and place, and can help inform liturgical awareness on the part of celebrants, musicians, and worshipers. There are ongoing discussions concerning traditional ecclesiastical chant and translation of texts from the original Greek language that wrestle with things like intelligibility of words and appropriateness of performance styles relative to that.

Regardless, Fr. Maximos helps us access the mind of the Fathers as regards worship forms that have remained with us, and in doing so helps us appreciate how we got where we are, what we might be missing now, and where we might go from here.

Skip to minute 26:25 if the timestamp embed or link doesn’t work.

An image from the lecture.


I need quiet. And I’m pretty sure a lot of you do, too.

SERVING IN one of the largest of our parishes in NYC— let alone the USA—with an office abutting a busy thoroughfare, an animated office environment, a school with hundreds of elementary- and middle-schoolers, and so on and so on, makes finding that quiet time and place quite a challenge.

Anyone who’s been in my office has seen this. When I’m in the office, this is my quiet place during the day. I often have a candle lit. I stop to pray occasionally. It’s the center of my attention when I look up from my desk.

At its center is the Cross. Christ crucified. Between two jeering thieves. Above mocking crowds. Deafened by the silent screaming pain of wounds and strain, and a heart pounding in the eardrums. Crying out, “why have you forsaken me!”

Gasping. Dying. Dead.


What better way to drown out mundane clatter—both that outside my head and the grumbling voice of self-pity and annoyance inside it—than to recall the noise endured for us by Christ? What better way to find gratitude for noise engendered by peace and freedom, not by war? What better way to be revived than to recall Jesus’ life-giving death?

I need quiet. We all do.

I suggest the Cross of Christ as a place to discover it, no matter where we might be.

Our Mother, Our Wealth

Only a reductive and impoverished rendering of the Christian Faith could exclude the Mother of God from the Church’s life and experience, including its theology, which is faithful and inspired reflection on the experience of salvation in Christ.

— Fr. Maximos Constas, from his introduction to Mother of the Light