Thursday, June 11 - 4 pm EDT - open to the public

Music as Liturgy: Models from Ancient Syriac Christianity

Susan Ashbrook Harvey

During the era of late antiquity (4th-7th centuries AD), as part of the early Byzantine Empire yet with distinctive articulation, Christians in Syria fashioned a liturgical tradition performed through a brilliant array of sung poetry, crafted by the likes of St. Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373) and St. Jacob of Sarug (d. 521). While the music of these early liturgists does not survive, their poetry continues to inflect our liturgies to the present day.  And their poetry remains important, further, for their reflections on liturgy as song.


Each component of liturgical song received the attention of these poets:  choirs male and female, congregational responses and refrains, the interweaving of scriptural lections with alleluias and hymns, the sung dialogues between deacons and congregation, the singing of sermons, invocations, prayers, and eucharist all as musical exchange. 


Ephrem and Jacob both extol the power of the church at song – not only in the church building, but also in the context of the larger civic community.  In their view, sacred song was the medium and method for enacting faith.  The liturgical singing of the faithful (of every rank, gender, and class), performed indelible work at every level of life: in the church, in the world, and perhaps most importantly, in one’s own self.

Why was singing the perfect expression of worship?  What did it mean to sing, to offer words sounded in melodies? What did the sound (music, song) of liturgy accomplish? How?  Ancient Syriac liturgical poetry offers us rich models for our own consideration of why, how, and in what forms music provides the essential medium for worship, throughout Christian history and still, in our own parishes.

Thursday, June 11 - 5:00 pm EDT - open to the public

Dedication of the 2020 Pan-Orthodox Symposium, Honoring Father Sergei Glagolev

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Friday, June 12 - 4:00 pm EDT - open to the public
Liturgy as Music 

Protopresbyter Ivan Moody

In this paper I will analyse the proposition that Liturgy might be Music. This involves discussing exactly what Liturgy and Music might be in themselves, and whether there is any sense in which they overlap.

This is not merely a theoretical question, but an exploration of ways in which we might understand both terms and enrich our experience of both.

To join Fr Ivan's presentation:

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Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 646 558 8656  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833


Webinar ID: 856 3860 5004

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Music as Liturgy in the Rite of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia

Alexander Lingas


For over a century it has been known that received forms of the Byzantine rite include many elements traceable back to late antique and medieval Constantinople. Only recently, however, has study of the original rite of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia progressed to the point where it is possible to discern how music functioned within its liturgical traditions.


This talk will survey how particular forms and repertories – ranging from simple congregational psalmody to florid compositions by eponymous composers – contributed to a complex yet highly ordered multi-layered system of worship.

Friday, June 12 - 4:00 pm EDT - open to the public

Music as Liturgy: Piano Works Inspired by Orthodox Chant 

Dr Paul Barnes

This presentation will feature a lecture and piano performance of original commissions by renown composers Victoria Bond, David von Kampen, Philip Glass, and Father Ivan Moody.

Each setting, in its own unique way, explores the meditative structure of Orthodox chants for Holy Week, the liturgy, and the feast of the Annunciation.

Dr Barnes is the Marguerite Scribante Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music and has performed around the world and at previous ISOCM symposia in 2016 and 2018.

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