Ukraine immigrant works on something new for Conservative Anabaptists — use of instruments in ways similar to other Christian worship

20 April 2019, 07:24 | Monitoring | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

Art Petrosemolo

Lititz Record Express, Apr 4, 2019

The musical traditions of the conservative Anabaptist Christian churches are focused on four-part, acappella singing. Children are taught hymns early and master four-part harmony in their teens.

For this community, musical instruments might be played in the home, if at all. New Holland’s Yuriy Kravets, an immigrant from Ukraine is working to incorporate the use of instruments in ways similar to other Christian worship — something new for Conservative Anabaptists.

“More assimilated Anabaptists, some Mennonites and Brethren, have used music instruments in Sunday worship for some time,” says Steven Nolt of Elizabethtown College’s Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies,

Kravets, a conservative Christian, with old friends and new friends from local churches, has brought together a chorus with string, woodwind, and brass orchestra instruments. The group is called Lyrica Sacra.

Lyrica Sacra’s most recent concerts in 2017 performances drew more than 2,000 spectators. 

Dawn Nolt, (no relation to Steven Nolt) who recently moved to Denver from Ephrata, and sings in the chorus, joined because she loves music and “was moved to tears attending a Lyrica concert, at the awesomeness of God and the power of worship.”

It prompted her to join the group.

Nolt had sung with different small groups and choruses for 20 years, including the Mennonite Heritage Chorale, but Lyrica Sacra provided her first experience singing with an orchestra.

“Lyrica Sacra is opening the door for Anabaptist musicians giving them an outlet to use their talent in a God-honoring way,” she said.

Retired Ephrata music teacher Galen Reed works closely with Lyrica’s founder. The pair met in 2013 at the Ephrata Christian Fellowship. When Kravets became aware of Reed’s musical background, he asked him to play string instruments in the orchestra, handle part of the conducting, and to help select the sacred music and hymns that were appropriate to conservative Christian churches.

In August 2014, some 20 Lyrica Sacra singers and 12 musicians, all recruited by Kravets, performed for the first time after less than a half-dozen rehearsals. The program, with a short sermonette, debuted in the old Moyer building in Ephrata. Not knowing how many people to expect, Kravets and Reed prepared just small, printed programs with hymn titles. They hoped a few dozen friends and church members would attend.

To their surprise, the concert attracted an audience far beyond their imagination — around 600 people.

“We were overwhelmed,” Kravets says. “We didn’t even plan for ushers to help seat the audience, as we never thought we would need them.”

The group learned quickly that their music in praise of God had touched music lovers of all Christian denominations.

“Musical instruments were part of Old Testament scripture with the first reference when David organized an orchestra (1 Chronicles 15:16) to ‘raise sounds of joy’ when the Levites brought the Arc to Jerusalem,” says Reed.

He went on to explain that there is no reference to musical instruments in the New Testament and members of conservative Anabaptist churches did not include instrument accompaniment to hymns in services.

For Lyrica Sacra’s upcoming April event, the repertoire will include well known hymns and music from classical composers like Handel and Brahms, including the hymns “Majesty and Glory,” “Deep River,” “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place,” “Before The Throne of God Above,” and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” as well as selections from Handel’s Messiah. The concerts remain open to the public without an admission charge, although donations are accepted.

Although Kravets would like to expand Lyrica Sacra’s outreach, the logistics make it difficult. The group now includes 110 members, with 80 in the chorus and 30 musicians, and there are few stages in Lancaster County that can accommodate the full group. Also, some members live two hours or more away from rehearsals and concerts, and others come from out of state. If Lyrica performs at retirement communities or other venues, they do so with a smaller group.

Laura Conley of Mount Joy joined Lyrica a year ago. She loves to sing and had friends who were in the chorus.

The Kravets brothers began their musical instrument journey in 1998 when they learned to play recorders — small, woodwind instruments with a whistle mouthpiece and finger holes. Encouraged by their father, who Yuriy calls a visionary, and the fact that musical instruments were a strong part of their Slavic tradition, the brothers have gone on to become proficient with multiple instruments. Kravets plays the trumpet in the Lyrica orchestra when not conducting.

Music had always been important to the Kravets family, but as a hobby. “It may have been a hobby, but an important one, and a focus of our dad who made sure his active and boisterous boys, were practicing and not playing Little League baseball,” says Lyrica’s founder.

There are six Kravets boys, five of whom are the backbone of Lyrica Sacra’s string and brass sections. The sixth brother helps in production and is their videographer. The brothers also play together in a brass quintet and a string quartet, both of which are standard combinations.

Lyrica Sacra’s music has been described by some as a renaissance in bringing the use of musical instruments to worship in sacred concerts in Lancaster County. Kravets believes it wasn’t an accident that he met Reed and other musically-inclined members of the conservative Anabaptist community.

“I am happy we are able to honor God with our music,” he says, “and yes, I believe, with his help, the musical ministry will expand in the years ahead.”

To learn more about Lyrica Sacra and watch videos of previous concerts, visit

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Last comments

  • | 12 October 2019, 18:30

    Ну що ж: та штучна ізоляція (невизнання) ПЦУ у світовому православ'ї, що її цинічно й зухвало інспірував, тиснув і нагнітав (відповідні страшилки-жахалки) МП, по суті, подолана. Принаймні, успішний

  • Paraeklezyarh | 12 October 2019, 15:08

    Слава Богу ! Це дійсно вияв мужності предстоятеля та єпископату Елладської церкви. Пам'ятаймо про це.

  • | 11 October 2019, 17:03

    Водночас, як каже і акцентує Святе Письмо, це саме Господь "змінює часи і літа, СКИДАЄ ЦАРІВ і ПОСТАВЛЯЄ ЦАРІВ; дає мудрість мудрим і розуміння розумним" (Дан.2:21). ----- А ось щодо декого

  • | 11 October 2019, 16:49

    Разом з тим не все тут так просто й однозначно. Скажімо, дуже цікавим і дивовижним виглядає тут отакий збіг певних подій та обставин. Включаючи календарно-числові. Й конкретно. ----------- Як відомо,

  • Paraeklezyarh | 11 October 2019, 00:55

    Нажать, і останні президентські та парламентські вибори цьому підтвердження, для 73% віра таки не важлива. Зубожілому населенню байдуже якому попові платити гроші за треби. На такому грунті СПЖ може