CWN - In an interview for the 30th anniversary of his episcopal ordination, Metropolitan Hilarion Volokolamsk spoke about the importance of the sacred liturgy and liturgical music.

The prelate leads the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations.

When he was 15, Metropolitan Hilarion was attending music school, but became “attracted by the very atmosphere of the liturgy” and entered monastic life. “Celebration of the liturgy is the spiritual core around which the whole life of a priest is built up,” he said. “It is the liturgy, the standing at God’s altar that gives you strength to do the rest.”

As a bishop, Metropolitan Hilarion has composed sacred music, including a Stabat Mater cantata. Reflecting on liturgical music, he said:Liturgical singing should be, above all, prayerful. It should not divert people from prayer but rather encourage it. I am very upset when a choir sings too loud or performs concert numbers. What is important in liturgy is integrity, which also concerns the singing of the church choir. I very much love the old Russian chanting. But I also love today’s four-voice polyphony, provided that they sing distinctly and devotionally.