Speeding through the liturgy, by Mollie

A couple of Sundays ago, I visited a Romanian Orthodox church to witness the chrismation of some of my friends. I have been to more than a few Orthodox services, owing to my grandfather’s business partnership with an Orthodox gentleman and various other friendships.

This service was in English, which was new for me and a pleasant surprise. The icons at the small church were beautiful and I was looking forward to the liturgy.

Unfortunately, the service was run through so quickly that I felt like I was in an auction house. Even though I was following along in the prayer book, it was difficult to keep up. I asked some of my other Orthodox friends about it and they said that this is a common feature of Russian-heritage Orthodox parishes — the priests speed through the liturgy. I am uncertain why that is. It’s also possible that I never noticed the speed in other Ortho parishes because they were in a foreign or ancient language.

Since the Orthodox aren’t known for their preaching or hymn-singing so much as their liturgy, it struck me as a lost opportunity. But it has made me look anew at churches that forget to do what they do well.

Lutherans are known for preaching the Law and Gospel, administering the sacraments properly, conducting a proper liturgy and having the best hymns in the universe. They should not forsake these things.

Anyway, the real point of my post is to ask what the appropriate speed of the liturgy should be. How do pastors know how to pace themselves so that the full benefit is received?

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