Venerable Lavrentiy was an unusual choir director, but when God called him to this service he multiplied this gift, becoming known for it during his lifetime. To this day, many people pray to the saint for help in church singing. Here are just a few stories about this holy man’s cantoral ministry and the clear manifestation of his gifts of miracle-working and clairvoyance.
Leading the Church Choir
When directing his church choir, Father Lavrentiy stood in an unusual way. Unlike most choir directors who face their choristers and direct them with their backs turned to the iconostasis (if the choir gallery is in the western part of the church) Fr Lavrentiy always stood facing the altar in the center of his choristers who surrounded him symmetrically on both sides, forming a semicircle.
A nun once approached Fr Lavrentiy asking for his blessing to perform her obedience. Suddenly he asked her, “Can you read music? You need to learn it, because singing in church is the most valuable obedience. The Mother of God loves singers.” The venerable mentioned singing in almost every conversation. He readily gave his blessing to everyone, including the “voiceless” and the “deaf”, to sing in church choir. Through his prayers, even “hopeless” choristers became accustomed to singing.
Prediction for the Choristers
Once, during a conversation with his singers, Elder Lavrentiy predicted, “When I am no longer here, you will go to all cities and villages. Some of you will sing as artists in Moscow, so learn your notes well. Others will sing by their knowledge, and you will sing by grace, and for that you will be loved”. The words of the saint came true after his death, when all his singers were scattered throughout cities and villages and were loved for their grace-filled singing.
Not everyone will Enjoy Singing in the Afterlife
The inhabitants of the Trinity Monastery and the spiritual children of St Lavrentiy often saw the venerable cry during prayer or singing. More than once, he repeated with tears in his eyes, “Here, in this world, the Lord has given freedom to every person. Anyone can listen to chanting, enjoy it, and praise the Lord with his mouth and heart. But in the future life it will not be so. Only those will listen and enjoy to whom the Lord will grant this privilege, while others will be deprived of it forever for their sinful and careless life”.
A Dream Chant
This is a story shared by one of Fr Lavrentiy’s spiritual daughters: “I once had a dream. In that dream it seemed to me like I was not on earth and I heard an unusually beautiful singing “Come, let us bow down” and “Lord, have mercy”. This singing sounded joyful and pleased my soul. I woke up thinking that, perhaps, it was an enemy’s trick. In the morning I ran to Father Lavrentiy. He was happy to see me and said, “It’s good that you came. Let’s write down what you have heard”. I was frightened and surprised, still thinking that it may have been a demonic delusion. But the venerable continued, “Quick, bring me the music book, girls. Let’s write it down. Go on, sing to us what you have heard”. I immediately forgot everything and was unable to reproduce anything from what I heard in my dream. Father raised up his eyes and began to pray that the Lord may help me. Then I began to remember something and sang while Fr Lavrentiy was writing everything down. The sisters were wondering why he had to do it, since all the churches were then closed by the Soviet government. The elder answered, “The churches and monasteries will be back. We will have our monastery and continue to sing”. Indeed, it all came true. Later I heard this chant, which I, a sinner, have heard in my sleep through the elder’s prayers. It was performed by Fr Lavrentiy’s choir”.
Troparion to St Lavrentiy of Chernigov, Tone 8
Today the city of Chernigov rejoices radiantly, and the monastery of the Most Holy Trinity triumphs; for in it you abode in prayer and fasting, appearing, like a radiant star in the land of Russia, as a great mentor and a quick helper to monastics and all faithful people, as well as a chosen vessel of Most Glorious Queen of Heaven. So pray to God, the Lover of Mankind, O Venerable Father Lavrentiy, for the salvation of our souls.