Art and Faith

Monday, 3 December 2007

Andrei Ryabushkin. A Deacon. 1888

A Deacon

Andrei Ryabushkin



Last week, we showcased hunting paintings. This week, the theme is “Russian clergy”. The paintings shall come from various eras, and shall basically be portraits, not “human studies” (you painters out there know the difference!).

In the Russian church, the deacon has always played a larger role than his counterparts in the western confessions. The deacon intones the litanies, reads the Gospel, and plays a major role in the liturgy (especially when a hierarch serves). Often, he is chosen for his vocal abilities. In Russia, the deacon is often chosen for such service if he has a powerful and well-projected bass voice. This is one of the “signature” sounds of the Russian liturgy, the interplay between the basso intonations of the deacon and the sound of a well-trained choir singing the responses in harmony. Even unbelievers attest to the beauty of this combination.

Let all catechumens depart! All catechumens depart! Let no catechumen remain! Let us, the faithful, again and again, in peace, pray unto the Lord! (the deacon’s exclamation at end of the Litany for the Cathecumens)


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