A Reflection on Harmony

One of my students at St. Tikhon’s, Fr. John Kennerk, delivered a beautiful homily this past Sunday, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, a feast that commemorates the triumphant restoration in 843 of the use of iconography, and by extension sacred art generally, in Christian worship. Fr. John drew some lovely connections between the spiritual life, iconography, and the work of making music in the Church. I thought I’d share a selection from his homily with you all:

“The Christian life is the harmony between two wills, the Divine and the human,” says St. Silouan the Athonite.

What is harmony?

When we hear two voices, or a choir of voices in harmony, we hear unity. Different voices come together to produce something beautiful. They produce beauty. Harmony produces beauty.

Therefore, when we align our will with the will of the Lord, we live a life of beauty. The Christian life is a life of beauty. Harmony does not come from coercion. It does not come from mere morality. It comes from love.

However, when we sing alone, we think we sound great, don’t we? This is why he have Lent!

Lent is perfect pitch. Lent is the pure and perfect tone of the Church. We, as Christians, fast at this time of year in attempt to attune ourselves to this pitch. When our tone, our note, is brought closer to the tone of the Church, we see how out of tune we are. When our will is brought closer to Christ, we see how much we need Christ.

When we see a brother or sister that we struggle with, we go sharp. When we try to rise early for prayer, we go flat. We fail our conscience. We do things we don’t want to do. Lent is a time of special sensitivity to our will. It is a time of sensitivity to our Lord’s will. But, it’s not just about learning how out of tune we are…

This Lent especially, may we remember that God called us to beauty. He called us into harmony with His will. And as we approach the Chalice shortly, let us behold the perfect harmony of God and man that is our bread and our wine made His Body and His Blood.

—Fr. John Rowley Kennerk

About Benedict Sheehan

Benedict is Director of Music at St. Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery, and Artistic Director of the Saint Tikhon Choir, a professional vocal ensemble. He also guest conducts Cappella Romana and has collaborated with numerous other leading ensembles around the United States, including the Clarion Choir, the Kansas City Chorale, and the Skylark Vocal Ensemble. Together with his wife, vocalist and educator Talia Maria Sheehan, Benedict is a frequent clinician and speaker in the field of Orthodox choral singing throughout North America. A composer and author, he has a variety of published works, including the album, “Till Morn Eternal Breaks: Sacred Choral Music of Benedict Sheehan” (2015), and an anthology of arrangements entitled “A Common Book of Church Hymns: Divine Liturgy” (2016). He and his wife have seven daughters and live in Pennsylvania.


  1. Thank you. I shared this with my choir. We were just discussing this on Sunday during choir rehearsal, and this said it so much better than I ever could have. I’d love the whole text of the sermon, if you could share it.

  2. This a beautiful visual concept of an abstract reality that I had never considered… you’ve given me food for thought… thank you.

  3. Lovely. I am grateful to have read it, and will pass it on. Thank God for the LIGHT that shines from St Tikhon monastery and seminary!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *