In case you were wondering, yes – Orthodox Christians used to applaud regularly during the sermon at Constantinople. Yes, they did. And the admonitions of this piece from the Golden-mouth apply likewise to preachers, and listeners, today.
by St. John Chrysostom
It is this that ruins churches, that you do not seek to hear sermons that touch the heart, but sermons that will delight your ears with their intonation and the structure of their phrases, just as if you were listening to singers and lute-players.
And we preachers humor your fancies, instead of trying to crush them. We act like a father who gives a sick child a cake or an ice, or something else that is merely nice to eat–just because he asks for it; and takes no pains to give him what is good for him; and then when the doctors blame him says, ‘I could not bear to hear my child cry.’ . . . That is what we do when we elaborate beautiful sentences, fine combinations and harmonies, to please and not to profit, to be admired and not to instruct, to delight and not to touch you, to go away with your applause in our ears, and not to better your conduct.
Did Orthodox Christians Applaud During Sermons?