“You’re trying to, with the music, recognize that when people are singing this here at our parish, there’s people singing this a world away. In Moscow, Russia, they will be chanting the same thing with only the hour changed to split it. What we’re singing on a Vespers on, let’s say, Saturday evening is the same thing that was chanted at a Vespers Saturday evening 200, 300, 500 years ago. And when you take that into consideration, it’s absolutely amazing.”
“Any sound that you hear at an Orthodox church has a purpose. It has a meaning behind it. It’s not there for fluff…it all goes hand in hand with this eternal worship of God. It never ends.”
St. Gregory of Nyssa Orthodox Church sits on the corner of Summit and Oakland, tucked away in a building that used to be a car dealership. Upon entering St. Gregory’s, the non-assuming brick exterior of the building is quickly forgotten, replaced by an ornate, intimate sanctuary filled with sights, smells, and, of course, sounds. Comprised of a wide range of ages, the parishioners of St. Gregory’s come from many different faith backgrounds—some have grown up Orthodox, while others are recent converts. Part of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), which was granted autocephaly (autonomy) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970, St. Gregory’s mostly follows Slavic traditions of Orthodoxy, particularly in the chanting style used by their choir. We attended two separate services on the weekend of Pentecost, one of the major feast days in the Orthodox liturgical year, a Saturday night Vespers service and a Sunday morning celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Despite the small size of its building, St. Gregory’s overflows with energy provided by its vibrant, devoted community and its commitment to engaging all five senses throughout worship.