From yesterday’s Synaxarion reading:
As Bishop of Antioch, Ignatius governed the Church of God as a good shepherd and was the first to introduce antiphonal chanting in the Church, in which two choirs alternate the chanting. This manner of chanting was revealed to St. Ignatius by the angels in heaven.
My hope is to eventually have antiphonal choirs at my parish. I keep being told “Nobody does that,” but there seems to be a vehemence to that insistence, so that it comes across as though it actually means, “That’s too much trouble, so don’t even talk about it.” I can point out places in our rubrics where a left choir and right choir are assumed, and I certainly saw plenty of counterexamples in Greece, so it’s not that “nobody” does it, it’s that by and large it isn’t done here. Well, why not? Because the Orthodox Christians who came here weren’t exactly overflowing with psaltai and that was a way they could consolidate, and so when converts started coming, that particular tradition just wasn’t there to pass on anymore? I don’t know, but that seems like a possibility.
Anyway, what I find fascinating is that there was at least a time when antiphonal choirs were such a distinctive part of Christian liturgy that it was important that it be acknowledged within the Liturgy itself whence it came. (And yes, I’m aware that there are a handful of saints credited with its implementation, which is also fascinating.) The next time somebody tells me, “Nobody does that,” I’m going to pull out the Prologue and show them the reading for 20 December.