Traditional Eastern Orthodox Chant Documentation Project
Spiritual Quotes About Chanting
Compiled by Father Ephraim, St. Anthony's Monastery, Arizona
Those who chant in the churches should refrain from forcing their nature
to yell, but also from saying anything else that is unsuitable for the church.
— Canon LXXV of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod
Those who chant should offer their psalmodies with great care to God, Who
looks into the hidden recesses of the heart, i.e., into the psalmody and
prayer that are done mentally in the heart rather than uttered in external
— Canon LXXV of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod
The chanting that is done in churches is an entreaty towards God to be
appeased for our sins. Whoever begs and prayerfully supplicates must have
a humble and contrite manner; but to cry out manifests a manner that is
audacious and irreverent.
— Canon LXXV of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod
Canon CXXV (75) of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod
We wish those who attend church for the purpose of chanting neither to employ disorderly cries and to force nature to cry aloud, not to foist in anything that is not becoming and proper to a church; but, on the contrary, to offer such psalmodies with much attentiveness and contriteness to God, who sees directly into everything that is hidden from our sight. ‘For the sons of Israel shall be reverent’ (Lev. 15.30), the sacred word has taught us.
The chanting, or psalmody, that is done in churches is in the nature of begging God to be appeased for our sins. Whoever begs and prayerfully supplicates must have a humble and contrite manner: but to cry out manifests a manner that is audacious and irreverent. On this account the present Canon commands that those who chant in the churches refrain from forcing their nature to yell, but also from saying anything else that is unsuitable for the church. But what are the things that are unsuitable for church? The expositor Zonaras replies that they are womanish members and warblings (which is the same as saying trills, and, an excessive variation or modulation in melodies which inclines towards the songs sung by harlots). The present Canon, therefore, commands that all these things be eliminated from the church, and that those who chant therein shall offer their psalmodies with great care to God, who looks into the hidden recesses of the heart, i.e. into the psalmody and prayer that are framed mentally in the heart rather than uttered in external cries. For the sacred word of Leviticus teaches us sons of Israel to be reverent to God.
David the prophet, too, says, ‘chant ye understandingly’ (Ps. 47. 7). In expounding this text Saint Basil the Great (Epitomized Definitions, no. 279) says: ‘Understanding the words of the Holy Scripture is like the quality of meals which the mouth eats: since, according to Job (12. 11), ‘The throat tastes foods, but the mind discerns words’. So if anyone’s soul discerns the power of every word just as the sense of taste discerns the quality of every food, he is fulfilling that commandment of David’s’. Saint Basil himself adds (Epitomized Definitions, no. 281) that whoever does not go to chant in church eagerly should either be corrected or be ousted. If there are enough psalts available — many, I mean — the same saint (Epitomized Definitions, no. 307) says that they should practice chanting in rotations, once a week, that is to say, Canon 15 of Laodicea, on the other, commands that no one else must chant in church but canonical chanters, or psalts, and parchment-reading chanters, or psalts, or, in other words, except those who chant with membranous and other paper chant. In addition, c. XXIII of the same Council says that psalts are not to wear an orarion when they are chanting. Between the chants there ought to be reading (or praying) too, according to c XVII of the same Council.
 That is why divine Chrysostom (Hom. on ТI saw the Lord sitting on a throne,У p.120, vol. v) strenuously prohibits theatrical singing, dances of gesticulators, and prolonged cries and yells, and disorderly intonations. For interpreting that passage in the Psalm saying ТServe the Lord in fearУ (Ps. 2. 11), he severely censures those who mingle the secular gestures of theaters with spiritual songs, and who admix therewith theatrical postures and meaningless intonations (such as arenowadays the trills and quavers and other meanigless utterances); and he says that these things are natural, not to those engaged in the doxology of God, but to those playing, and mingling the sports of demons with angelic doxology. By means of many arguments he teaches that we ought to offer up doxologies to God with fear and a contrite heart, in order that they may be welcome, like a fragrant incense. What Meletius Pegas, a very learned man, says in his third discourse concerning Christianity is in truth to be praised and deserving of all admiration: ТPrecisely, therefore, as modesty and symmetry of music is attractive, it is adapted to render hearts more robust, by drawing the soul up from the body. For harmony is most agreeable to the spirit, having as it does an intermediate nature partaking of the crassness of the body, combined with the immateriality of the spirit. Thus again excessive music, pursuing what is sweet beyond moderation fails to excite pleasure, but, on the contrary, tends to enervateЙ for it is on this account that only the human voice finds acceptance in the Church, on the ground that it is inherent in nature and unartificial, whereas the percussions and efflations produced by instruments are sent packing by the divine Fathers on the ground that they are too artificial.У Yet some of the musicians of today are striving to put these things back into the Church with their instrumental songs. The trills and quavers that are now being chanted do not appear to be old, but, on the contrary, modernistic, in view of the fact in the songs ascribed to John Damascene and other musicians of olden times such meaningless words and prolongations; they appear to have come into existence about the time of John Koukouzelos. But the prolongations which the psalts of today are chanting in the vigils, being double and often triple the standard length are in truth nauseating and become offensive to reverent listeners. Wherefore we beseech canonical psalts to chant their songs more quickly, in order that their songs may at the same time be more tuneful, and in order to leave time for readint ot be done; accordingly, the canons may be chanted more slowly, in which is rooted all the soulful (or physical) fruit of the vigil. Some say, however, that these meanigless trills were introduced into the Church with a view to attracting the simple laity by means of their pleasant effect on the ear.
 Just as is now usually done in connection with the vigils, and especially those held in the Holy Mountain, and just as used to be done, as St Basil (in his letter to the clergy of the church in Neocaesarea) mentions in writing: ТThe customs now prevailing in all the churches of God are consonant and consistent. For among us the laity commences morning prayer in the nightimeЙ lastly leaving off prayers they turn to psalmody, and, being now divided into two, they chant to one another alternately.У Afterwards again: ТHaving allowed one to commence the song, the rest of them maintaining the balance; and thus in variety of psalmody they divide up the night, praying betweenwhiles.У But note that psalmody differs from prayer, since psalmody is done with singing, whereas prayer is done without singing. And that among the ancients psalmody was domne in connection with the psaltery of David. That is why there are to be found old psalters all provided with musical notes. But today the contrary is done, and our prayer is the psalter read aloud, not sung (except for the first three psalms and the Polyeleios, whereas our psalmodyconsists of the troparia alluding to the new grace. Our God-bearing Fathers, however, the so-called Neptics, call praying by mouth and spoken words‘ psalmody’, and praying done by means of the mind alone ‘prayer’.
Psalmody is the weapon of a monk, by which he chases away grief.
— St. John of the Ladder
He who is not alone, but is with others, cannot derive so much benefit
from psalmody as from internal prayer; for the confusion of voices renders
the psalms indistinct.
— St. John of the Ladder (4:91)
Psalmody in a crowded congregation is accompanied by captivity and wandering
of the thoughts; but in solitude, this does not happen. However, those in
solitude are liable to be assailed by despondency, whereas in congregation
the brethren help each other by their zeal. At all times, but most of all
while chanting, let us be still and undistracted. For through distractions,
the demons aim to ruin our prayer.
— St. John of the Ladder
Let us examine during psalmody what kind of sweetness comes to us from
the demon of fornication and, on the other hand, what kind of sweetness
come to us from the words of the Spirit and from the grace and power contained
— St. John of the Ladder (15:49)
Sometimes singing in moderation successfully relieves the temper. But sometimes,
if untimely and immoderate, it lends itslef to the lure of pleasure. Let
us then appoint definite times for this, and so make good use of it.
— St. John of the Ladder (8:17)
Lovers of God are moved to spiritual joy, to divine love, and to tears
both by worldly and by religious songs; but lovers of pleasure are moved
to the opposite.
— St. John of the Ladder (15:61)
The value of prayer can be inferred from the way the demons attack us during
services in church.
— St. John of the Ladder (28:61)
When the day is over, the vendor sits down and counts his profits; but
the worker of virtue does so when the psalmody is over.
— St. John of the Ladder (20:18)
And even if you do not understand the meaning of the words, for the time
being teach your mouth to say them, for the tongue is sanctified by the
words alone whenever it says them with good will.
— St. John Chrysostom, On Psalm 41:2, (PG 55:158)
Virtually all know the words of this psalm and they continue to sing it
at every age, without knowing, however, the sense of what has been said.
This is not a small charge, to sing something every day, putting forth words
from the mouth, without searching out the meaning of the thoughts residing
in the words.
— St. John Chrysostom, On Psalm 140, (PG 55:426-7)
We should offer up doxologies to God with fear and a contrite heart, in
order that they may be accepted like fragrant incense.
— St. John Chrysostom
Nothing elevates the soul, nothing gives it wings as a liturgical hymn
— St. John Chrysostom
Nothing so arouses the soul, gives it wing, sets it free from the earth,
releases it from the prison of the body, teaches it to love wisdom and to
despise all the things of this life, as concordant melody and sacred song
composed in rhythm.
— St. John Chrysostom (On Psalm 41)
Even though the meaning of the words [of psalmody] be unknown to you, teach
your mouth to utter them meanwhile. For the tongue is made holy by the words
when they are uttered with a ready and eager mind...
....No one in such chanting [with a ready and eager mind] will be blamed if he be weakened by old age, or young, or have a rough voice, or is altogether ignorant of rhthym. What is here sought for is a sober soul, an alert mind, a contrite heart, sound reason, and a clear conscience. If having these you have entered into God's sacred choir, you may stand beside David himself. There is no need of zithers, nor of taut strings, nor of a plectrum, nor skill, nor any instruments. But if you will, you can make yourself into a zither, mortifying the limbs of the flesh, and forming full harmony between body and soul. For when the flesh does not lust against the spirit, but yields to its commands, and perseveres along the path that is noble and admirable, you thus produce a spiritual melody.
— St. John Chrysostom (PG 58,158, Commentary on Psalm 41)
A holy hymn gives birth to piety of soul, creates a good conscience, and
is accepted by God in the treasuries of the heavens.
— St. John Chrysostom (id.ordin.1.1(1.438A)) PG 55:157
Just as swine run to a place where there is mire and bees dwell where there
are fragrances and incense, likewise demons gather where there are carnal
songs and the grace of the Holy Spirit settles where there are spiritual
melodies, sanctifying both mouth and soul.
— St. John Chrysostom
In all places and at all seasons you may sing with the mind. For whether
you walk in the market place, or begin a journey, or sit down with your
friends you may rouse up your mind or call out silently. So also Moses called
out, and God heard him. If you are an artisan, you may sing sitting and
working in your shop. If you are a soldier, or if you sit in judgment, you
may do the very same. One may also sing without voice, the mind resounding
inwardly. For we sing, not to men, but to God, who can hear our hearts and
enter into the silences of our minds. When pleasure predominates during
psalmody, then through this pleasure we are brought down to passions of
— St. Basil the Great
When chanters chant with the tongue and also with the mind, they greatly
benefit not only themselves but also those who want to hear them. To recite
the psalms with melody is not done from a desire for pleasing sound, but
it is a manifestation of harmony among the thoughts of the soul. And melodious
reading is a sign of the well-ordered and tranquil condition of the mind.
— St. Athansius the Great (PG XXVII, 40)
Bis orat qui cantat.
He who chants prays twice.
— ancient proverb
The book of psalms uproots the passions with a certain melodic enjoyment
and a delight that instills pure thoughts.
— St. Basil the Great
What state can be more blessed than to imitate on earth the choirs of angels?
to begin the day with prayer, and honor our Maker with hymns and songs?
As the day brightens, to betake ourselves, with prayer attending on it throughout,
to our labors, and to season our work with hymns, as food with salt? The
consolation from hymns produces a state of soul that is cheerful and free
— St. Basil the Great (1st Letter)
For prayer and psalmody, as for many other things, every time is suitable;
so that we praise Goid with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, while
we move our hands in work, chanting with our tongue if this is possible
and conducive to the edification of the faith, but if not, then in the heart.
— St. Basil the Great (Longer Rules, 37)
When, indeed, the Holy Spirit saw that the human race was guided only with
difficulty toward virtue, and that, because of our inclination toward pleasure,
we were neglectful of an upright life, what did He do? The delight of melody
He mingled with the doctrines so that by the pleasantness and softness of
the sound heard we might receive without perceiving it the benefit of the
words, just as wise physicians who, when giving the fastidious rather bitter
drugs to drink, frequently smear the cup with honey. Therefore, He devised
for us these harmonious melodies of the psalms, that they who are children
in age, or even those who are youthful in disposition, might to all appearances
chant, but in reality, become trained in soul.
— St. Basil the Great
Psalmody— bringing about choral singing, a bond, as it were, toward unity,
and joining people into a hamonious union of one choir— produces also the
greatest of blessings: love.
— St. Basil the Great
A psalm is a city of refuge from the demons; a means of inducing help from
the angels, a weapon in fears by night, a rest from the toils of the day,
a safeguard for infants, an adornment for those at the height of their vigor,
a consolation for the elders, a most fitting ornament for women. It peoples
the solitudes; it rids the market places of excesses; it is the elementary
exposition of beginners, the improvement of those advancing, the solid support
of the perfect, the voice of the Church. It brightens feast day; it creates
a sorrow which is in accordance with God. For, a psalm calls forth a tear
even from a heart of stone. A psalm is the work of angels, a heavenly institution,
the spiritual incense.
— St. Basil the Great
Not if someone utters the words the psalm with his mouth, does that one
sing to the Lord; but, all who send up the psalmody from a clean heart,
and who are holy, maintaining righteousness toward God, these are able to
sing to God, harmoniously guided by the spiritual rhythms.
— St. Basil the Great (PG)
O the wise invention of the teacher who contrives that in our singing we
learn what is profitable, and that thereby doctrine is somehow more deeply
impressed upon our souls! What is learned under duress tends not to be retained,
but what suavely ingratieates itself somehow adibes within our souls more
— St. Basil the Great On Psalm 1 (PG XXIX, 213)
While your tongue sings, let your mind search out the meaning of the words,
so that you might sing in spirit and sing also in understanding.
— St. Basil the Great On Psalm 27 (PG XXIX, 304)
A religious hymn is a great blessing for everyone. It constitutes praise
to the Most High, honor for His holy people, worldwide harmony, an eloquent
proof of the Church's unity. It expresses the voice of the Church, its confession.
It brings about a complete spiritual uplifting and absolute peace and joy
in redeemed hearts, with the triumphal hymn and song of happiness. It drives
away hardness of heart. It chases away disturbance. It dissolves and dissipates
despondency... The voice sings the soul's joy, while the spirit delves into
the mysteries of the faith.
— St. Ambrose of Milan (Enarr. In Psalmum 1,9. P.L. 14,968)
The virtue of silence, especially in church, is very great... Is anything
more unbecoming than the divine words should be so drowned by talking, as
not to be heard, believed, or made known, that the sacraments should be
indistinctly heard through the sound of voices, that prayer should be hindered
when offered for the salvation of all?
— St. Ambrose of Milan (Concerning Virgins, 3:11)
The Apostle admonishes women to be silent in church, yet they do well to
join in a psalm; this is gratifying for all ages and fitting for both sexes.
Old men ignore the stiffness of age to sing [a psalm], and melancholy veterans
echo it in the joy of their hearts; young men sing one without the bane
of lust, as do adolescents without threat from their insecure age or the
temptation of sensual pleasure; even young women sing psalms with no loss
of wifely decency, and girls sing a hymn to God with sweet and supple voice
while maintaining decorum and suffering no lapse of modesty. Youth is eager
to understand [a psalm], and the child who refuses to learn other things
takes pleasure in contemplating it; it is a kind of play, productive of
more learning than that which is dispensed with stern discipline.
— St. Ambrose, On Psalm 1 (PL 14:924-5)
A psalm consoles the sad, restrains the joyful, tempers the angry, refreshes
the poor and chides the rich man to know himself. To absolutely all who
take it, the psalm offers an appropriate medicine; nor does it despise the
sinner, but presses upon him the wholesome remedy of penitential tears.
— St. Niceta of Remesiana (d. after 414) (De utilatate hymnorum 5)
We must think of what we sing rather than allow our mind, seized by extraneous
thoughts as is often the case, to lose the fruit of our labor. One must
sing with a manner and melody befitting holy religion; it must not proclaim
theatrical distress but rather exhibit Christian simplicity in its very
musical movement; it must not remind one of anything theatrical, but rather
create compunction in the listeners.
— St. Niceta of Remesiana (De utilatate hymnorum 13, Sermo 256:3 PL 38.1193)
When you worship God with hymns, you should be worshipping Him with your
entire being: your voice should sing; your heart should also sing; and your
life should also sing. Everything should sing!
— Blessed Augustine (Enarrat. In Ps. CXLIII, 2. PL 37.1938)
Oh, that blessed alleluia of heaven that the angels chant where God dwells!
There, the harmony of those who hymn God with words and deeds is perfect!
So let us take care to chant the alleluia with perseverance now, so that
we will be counted worthy of chanting it with stillness then.
— Blessed Augustine (Sermo 256: PL 38.1193)
When it happens to me that the song moves me more than the thing which
is sung, I confess that I have sinned blamefully and then prefer not to
hear the singer.
— Blessed Augustine (Confessions, PL 32:800)
Sing to God, not with the voice, but with the heart; not, after the fashion
of tragedians, in smearing the throat with a sweet drug, so that theatrical
melodies and songs are heard in the church, but in fear, in work, and in
knowledge of the Scriptures. And although a man be cacophonous, if he have
good works, he is a sweet singer before God.
— St. Jerome PL 26,562 (Commentary on Ephesians 5:19)
Let the servant of God sing in such a manner that the words of the text
rather than the voice of the singer cause delight.
— St. Jerome
Q: Many times, when I chant, I feel myself being puffed up. When this happens,
how should I confront the thoughts?
A: When the heart becomes puffed up during psalmody, remember that it is written: "Let not them who embitter Him be exalted in themselves." (Ps. 65:7) Embittering Him is when we sing without understanding (Ps. 47.7) and without the fear of God. If you examine yourself to see if your thoughts are wandering during psalmody, you will definitely find that they have been wandering and you are angering God.
— Sts. Barsanuphius and John
Our psalmody should be angelic, not unspiritual and secular. For to psalmodize
with clamour and a loud voice is a sign of inner turbulence.
— St. Gregory of Sinai (Philokalia, Vol. IV p. 278-279)
Many times, as I offer praise, I am found committing sin; for with my tongue
I pronounce songs of praise, yet in my soul I think unseemly things; but
do Thou correct them both through repentance, O Christ God, and save me.
— Aposticha of the Lauds, Third Tone, Monday morning
With fear and reverence you should stand in church, for our Christ is invisibly
present with the holy angels.
— Elder Ephraim (Counsels p. 410)
When we are weighed down by deep despondency, we should for a while sing
psalms out loud, raising our voice with joyful expectation until the thick
mist is dissolved by the warmth of song.
— St. Diadochos of Photiki (Philokalia, Vol. I p. 278)
Chanting is the work of the Bodiless Powers, who stand beside God and praise
— Antiochos (author of the Pandects)
It is a great accomplishment to pray without distraction, but it is even
greater to chant without distraction.
— Evagrios the Solitary (Philokalia I)
Pray gently and calmly, sing with understanding and rhythm; then you will
soar like a young eagle high in the heavens. Psalmody calms the passions
and curbs the uncontrolled impulses in the body.
— Evagrios the Solitary (Philokalia I, p.65, on Prayer 82)
When you approach a king, you stand before him bodily, entreat him orally,
and fix your eyes upon him, thus drawing to yourself his royal favour. Act
in the same manner, whether in church or in the solitude of your cell. When
in God's name you gather together with the brethren, present yourself bodily
to God and offer Him psalms chanted orally; and likewise keep your intellect
attentive to the words and to God Himself, aware of who it is that your
intellect addresses and entreats. For when the mind devotes itself to prayer
actively and with purity, the heart is granted inexpressible peace and a
joy which cannot be taken away.
— Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia (Philokalia, Vol. IV p. 183)
We should offer our prayers to God with fear and trembling, tears and sighs,
and our voices when we chant should be sober, contrite, measured, and humble.
— St. Palladios (in the Evergetinos)
Recite the words of psalmody as your very own, that you may utter the words
of your supplication with insight and with discriminating compunction, like
a man who truly understands his work.
— St. Isaac the Syrian (Homily 54) (33,3 in Greek)
Quality in psalmody and prayer consists in praying with the spirit and
the nous. One prays with the spirit only when, as he prays and chants, he
is attentive to the content of the holy writings, and thus raises his heart
to divine thoughts.
— Nikitas Stithatos
Just as the angels stand with great fear and chant their hymns to the Creator,
likewise should we stand in psalmody.
— St. Ephraim the Syrian
When you stand in church, be careful not to look here and there or curiously
examine how each one of the brethren stands or sings. Rather, pay attention
only to yourself and to the chanting and to your sins.
— St. Symeon the New Theologian
Wherever there are spiritual melodies, there does the grace of the Spirit
come, sanctifying the mouth and the soul.
— St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain
Sing to God in love and humility of spirit, for the Lord rejoiceth therein.
— St. Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938)
Byzantine music is the only music that has sacredness and sanctity, and
for this reason a Christian can pray with it. The feeling caused by chanting— if
you are in a position to comprehend it— is called compunction. The words
find their strongest expression in Byzantine music, because it is their
— Photios Kontoglou (+1965)
Many listeners are not in a position to appreciate ecclesiastical music,
which is commonly called Byzantine, because they are accustomed to hearing
only worldly, European music. They should bear in mind that each of these
two kinds of music— ecclesiastical and worldly— were formed by different feelings
and different dispositions of soul. Worldly music expresses sensual desires
and feelings. Even if these feelings are very refined (romantic, sentimental,
idealistic), they do not cease from being sensual. Nevertheless, such people
believe that these feelings are spiritual. However, spiritual feelings are
expressed only by ecclesiastical music. Only ecclesiastical music can express
the secret movements of the heart, which are completely different than what
worldly music expresses. For this reason the two kinds of music are totally
different, just as shown by the words: "sing" and "chant."
— Photios Kontoglou (+1965)
"Now [in 1911] theatrical tunes and melodies have even penetrated
into the Church, forcing out ancient chant. Meanwhile, the latter is more
highly artistic, but people don't understand this."
— St. Barsanuphius of Optina (p. 452)
"When you have children, teach them music. But, of course, real music— angelic,
not dances and songs. Music assists the development of the perception of
spiritual life. The soul becomes refined. It begins to understand spiritual
music as well."
— St. Barsanuphius of Optina (p. 110)
If one were to put all of the world's most precious things on one side
of a scale, and the Divine Liturgy on the other, the scales would tip completely
in favor of the Liturgy.
— St. John of Kronstadt
There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more
life-giving than the Liturgy. The temple, at this particular time, becomes
an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the angels,
the cherubim, seraphim and apostles.
— St. John of Kronstadt
God had definite qualifications which musicians in the Old Testament service of the Tabernacle had to meet. These musicians were to be chosen by God (I Chron. 15:1-2), commissioned (Neh. 12:24), appointed to specific ministries (I Chron. 15:16-22, 16:4-6, 37:41-42), clean (Num. 8:5-14), pure (II Chron. 5:11-12), mature (Num. 4:46-47), skillful (I Chron. 25:1-7), dedicated to their work (I Chron. 9:33), and were to make their living from their work (Num. 18:21, Neh. 11:23; 12:44-47).
Abba Pamba on chanting
(adapted from a post by Shota Gugushvili)
The following story depicting Abba Pamba's attitude towards chanting is found in old Paterikons and can be found in the Pandekte of Nikon of Black Mountain as well. Abba Pamba (+ after 386) was a great ascetic from the desert of Nitria. Here's my summary:
Once Abba Pamba sent his disciple to Alexandria. Since he didn't have a place to spent a night there, he stayed in the narthex of St. Mark's church. There he listened to the church services and became interested in singing troparia. Upon his return to the Elder, Abba Pamba noticed that his disciple was confused by something and asked the reason. The disciple answered: "Father, we are leading our life in desert in neglect; we know neither canons nor troparia". To this the Elder responded: "Woe is us, my son! Close are the days when monks will abandon hard food pronounced by the Holy Spirit (i.e. Scriptures and Psalms) and will switch to songs and tones [asmata kai echous]. What compunction will a monk have, if standing in a church or in his kellion, he raises his voice like an ox? When we stand before God, we must stand in great compunction and not mockery. Monks do not leave the world to mock at God, to sing [melodousi] songs, to depict [rythmizousi] tones, shake hands and stomp feet; on the contrary, with great fear and trembling, tears and sighs, reverence and affection, with a meek and humble voice we must bring prayers to God. But I tell you, my son, a time will come when Christians will corrupt books of Holy Gospels and Holy Apostles by composing troparia and Hellenic orations."
I remember reading in an article somewhere that this story of Abba Pambo is considered apocryphal because it was evidently written two or three centuries after his repose. Is this true?
There are plenty of things written two or three centuries after the repose of many Saints which are not considered apocryphal. As another example, a similar story about a Cappadocean monk Paul is described in the ms E. 21 of Vallicela library (Rome); see also p. 43 of Pitra's Hymnographie. Moreover, the great Russian Saint Nil (Neilos) Sorsky had NO chanting whatsoever in his monastery... this being as late as the 16th century.