September 27, 2022

The Psychotherapeutic Value of Byzantine Ecclesiastical Music

By Stavros Balogiannis,
Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Thessaloniki

Byzantine Ecclesiastical music is a peaceful, spiritual chanting, which aims to elevate the human soul from the earthly world to the heavenly. Invoking the spirit of peace, dispassion, tranquility, effective introspection, real insight and self-knowledge, Byzantine music, in a harmonious interweaving with the Byzantine iconography of our temples, becomes a way of purifying the psychosomatic state of man.

In the human mind, which suffers from the constant interference of contemporary secular music and the aggression, restlessness, sadness, competition, dominance, demanding and inevitable impasses of contemporary society, Byzantine music is the ideal remedy for restoration of internal homeostasis and the harmonization of the higher mental processes with the spiritual aspirations and ascents of the soul.

In the place of inner disharmony, which often drives human emotions into true confusion, Byzantine music is able to introduce the unique values of repentance, humility, praise, thanksgiving and gratitude, truly establishing precious inner harmony. With the existence of so many oscillations, vibrations and transitions in the psychological background of the human beings of our time, who are suffocated by the futility and the weight of constant ephemeral blissful pursuits, Byzantine music offers a secret treasure full of spiritual fragrance, contentment and exaltation, remorse, joyful-mourning, calm, peace and light.

Understanding the message of Byzantine music, the human soul prepares to receive the eternal mystery of the infinite mercy and love of the Lord, the wonderful light of the Resurrection and its destination for eternity.

Source: Excerpt from the article "The Philosophy of Byzantine Music from the Perspective of Neuroscience" - Proceedings of the 1st Int. Interdisciplinary Musicological Conference, 9 June-3 July 2014, Volos, Greece. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

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