Remembering The Known and Unknown

all saints orthodox icon

When I logged onto Facebook a week or so ago, a memory from seven years ago shown at the top of my newsfeed. One having to do with my favorite Old Testament book–The Wisdom of Sirach.

The Wisdom of Sirach is part of the Orthodox Christian Old Testament Bible. It is as true and valid as the other Old Testament books other Christians of other traditions have. So, perhaps knowing that The Wisdom of Sirach is canonical for us Orthodox Christians, you may be able to better understand why we commemorate and remember the Saints of our Church.

It has been done since the early years of Abraham and Moses, etc. The tradition has carried on to this day in our Orthodox Churches.

Incidentally, I’m leading a women’s Bible and Orthodox book study during this Nativity Fast, in which we will begin to read and study this treasured book together.

The verses on remembering the saints before us from The Wisdom of Sirach are here:

44 Let us now praise honored men and our fathers.

2 The Lord established His great glory and majesty from the beginning through them.

3 There were those ruled in their kingdoms and were men renowned for their power, giving counsel through their understanding and proclaiming prophecies.

4 There were leaders of the people by their counsels and understanding of learning for the people. Wise in their words of instruction.

5 There were composers of music, and they set forth verse in writing.

6 Wealthy men with great resources, living in peace in their dwelling-places.

7 All these were honored in their generations and in their days were a source of boasting.

8 There were those who left behind a name that men might declare their praises.

9 There were also those whom no one remembers, who perished as if they never existed; and they died as if they had not been born. And so have their children after them.

10 Nevertheless, these were men of mercy, whose righteousness lives with God.

11 The good they did remains with their seed, and their inheritance with their children’s children.

12 Their seed stands with the covenants, and their children as well for their sake.

13 Their seed shall remain forever, and their glory will not be blotted out.

14 Their bodies were buried in peace, and their name lives to all generations.

15 Peoples will tell of their wisdom, and the assembly will proclaim their praise.

 

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The Wood’s Song (3 Minute Video)

semantron pic

I never tire of watching this video and thought I’d share it with you. I love traditions from different countries and religions. I find them fascinating. Perhaps you do, too? I hope so!

Pictured above is a wooden board called a semantron used in Eastern Orthodox Christian monasteries where monks use mallets to bang against the wood, making a cool sound that is used as a call to prayer (like bells are used at churches). Here’s a history of the use of the semantron via Wikipedia:

The portable semantron is made of a long, well-planed piece of timber, usually heart of maple (but also beech), from 12 feet (3.7 m) and upwards in length, by 1 12 feet (46 cm) broad, and 9 inches (23 cm) in thickness.[2] Of Levantine and Egyptian origin, its use flourished in Greece and on Mount Athos before spreading among Eastern Orthodox in what are now Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Macedonia. It both predates and substitutes for bells (first introduced to the East in 865 by the Venetians, who gave a dozen to Michael III),[3] being used to call worshipers to prayer. 

In the portable wooden form, at the centre of the instrument’s length, each edge is slightly scooped out to allow the player to grasp it by the left hand, while he or she holds a small wooden (or sometimes iron) mallet in the right, with which to strike it in various parts and at various angles, eliciting loud, somewhat musical sounds (κροῦσμα, krousma).[2]

Although simple, the instrument nonetheless produces a strong resonance and a variety of different intonations, depending on the thickness of the place struck and the intensity of the force used, so that quite subtle results can be obtained.[5] A metal semantron, smaller than those of wood, is usually hung near the entrance of the catholicon (the monastery’s main church).[6] In the traditional monastic ritual, before each service the assigned player takes a wooden semantron and, standing before the west end of the catholicon, strikes on it three hard and distinct blows with the mallet. He then proceeds round the outside of the church, turning to the four quarters and playing on the instrument by striking blows of varying force on different parts of the wood at uneven intervals, always winding up the “tune” with three blows similar to those at the beginning.[3]

The video is three minutes in length.  I hope you enjoy it!

(Romanian monk hitting the semantron with wooden mallets for a call to prayer courtesy youtube)

 

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