The only other people in the church were about a dozen nuns in black habits and head scarves, as well as a bishop who emerged from behind the screen [iconostasis] waving an incense holder, giving the room the mesmerizing smell of allspice and cinnamon. The service was conducted by a nun chanting in Slavonic, the ancient Slavic liturgical language that sounds Russian, only sweeter. The sweetness was enhanced by three sisters standing behind her, singing magically harmonic tunes that seemed like a combination of Mozart sonatas and Appalachian folk melodies. Their voices were plaintive, as if coming through a grammophone. (366)
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Quote: 'magically harmonic [Russian Orthodox] tunes that seemed like a combination of Mozart sonatas and Appalachian folk melodies'
From Bruce Feiler, Where God Was Born: A Journey by Land to the Roots of Religion (New York: William Morrow-HarperCollins, 2005). In the middle of a detailed account of the Russian Orthodox Compound of St. Mary Magdeline in Jerusalem, "a two-story white sandstone church built in 1888 by Czar Alexander III with seven gilded, bulbous domes that look like a bouquet of giant garlic cloves" (365), this description of an evening service: