St. Andrew Orthodox Church Choir is directed by Jeanette Gallaway. The Choir is made up mixed voices that sing liturgical settings from the Slavic tradition in four-part polyphony. From the Byzantine tradition, the Choir sings the monophonic and diaphonic arrangements of troparia, kontakion, and other moveable elements in Orthodox worship.
The music of the Orthodox Church is Her evangelism, and the choir, Her primary evangelistic instrument. Sermons, church schools and Bible studies are important and good for Christian formation. But this is not how She draws near to the soul; it is through the depth of Her poetry as possessed in Her services. The fullness of Orthodox theology and preaching is expressed in hymnography. When sung within the context of worship, the words of Sts. Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Ephrem the Syrian, John Damascene, and Romanos the Melodist give form to our experience with the visible and unseen worlds. After witnessing the beauty of Orthodox worship, the emissaries of Prince Vladimir returned from Constantinople to report, “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth.”
This nearness [association] between heaven and earth, evoked in Orthodox worship, is not the musical “prettiness” found in the concert hall. Dostoevsky has said, “Beauty will save the world.” Through beauty, truth enters the heart and awakens our spiritual senses. It is the responsibility of the liturgical singers and chanters to convey, with all clarity and “sweetness,” the Beauty of God’s revelation to man, as extolled in the liturgical poetry of the Orthodox services. By not imposing the unique personalities of their individual voices or sounding forth above the company, the singers humbly strive to become one breath, one voice, allowing the redemptive words to take precedence over any necessity to be heard as separate singers. Thus, the liturgical voices are anonymously integrated into the rubrics of worship, so as not to disturb the prayer of the people but to carry their hearts, as it were, from earth to heaven. In this sense, Orthodox singing is prayer that assists the praying congregation. It is an aural icon which is both didactic (instructive) and pleasing (nourishment-giving) to the souls of the worshippers as they unite with the choir in the praise of the Holy Trinity.