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#386382 09/20/12 10:27 PM
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http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2012/09/18/why-americans-need-an-all-english-liturgy/

Applies to Eastern Catholics too, as well as those in Canada

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Well, believe it or not, I ran into something like this not too long ago at a Divine Liturgy I was at. The priest and deacon were praying in English, but the choir threw everyone off, and responded in Slavonic throughout much of everything, except for the Nicene Creed, which was in English, thankfully.

However, I agree about this being an issue in both Orthodox and Eastern Catholic parishes. There are still parishes set up in the right way, though, especially in the UGCC parishes (mainly St. Josaphat Cathedral) where you either have a full English liturgy, or have a full native language liturgy throughout...I don't encounter any bilingual liturgies at St. Josaphat. However, at St. Vladimir UOC a few blocks down, they do have bilingual liturgies from time to time to compress everything into one liturgy.

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I don't see why English and the traditional languages cannot be used interchangeably. It really isn't that hard.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
I don't see why English and the traditional languages cannot be used interchangeably. It really isn't that hard.


This.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
I don't see why English and the traditional languages cannot be used interchangeably. It really isn't that hard.


I agree. Several years ago, during a visit to a Maronite parish, they had five languages during their Qurbono - the primary texts in English and Arabic, the Words of Institution in Aramaic, Ave Maria in Latin, and the Kyrie in Greek.

It was very natural, and didn't seem like they were trying to squeeze in languages for their own sake. One sensed the history and universality of the Church. And, nobody's head exploded. Indeed, they seem to have more non-Lebanese parishioners than my UGCC church has non-Slavs, and we offer a fully English DL.

(Whether or not the use of Latin and Greek in the Maronite Qurbono is traditionally and rubrically appropriate is totally outside of my bailiwick.)

Five languages is probably a bit much for most parishes and traditions, but it's an interesting example.

Seems to me - a nobody in upstate NY, mind you - that there is an argument for the limited use of some of the original Greek text of the Divine Liturgy. Besides being the languages of the NT, it was, after all, one of the three languages on the Cross inscription, a fact noted twice in the gospels. I think it would help conversions by underscoring the universality of the Greek rites (in conjunction with a push to remind Latins of the "Greek reality" of the Roman Empire and early Catholicism).

I'd love to be able to tell Protestants that our DL uses the language of the Bible, and then watch the smoke pour from their ears (in a good way).

Similarly for Old Church Slavonic ... once a language leaves such a footprint on a Church, it seems right and proper to retain it to some degree.

Say in some science fiction scenario the Greek-rite churches in the United States totally lost all ethnic flavor (not something I support, but for the sake of example) and became totally "Anglo-Greek Catholic." Then imagine they send missionaries and convert ... ah, let's say ... Thailand to Greek Catholicism. In such a case, I think an argument could be made for having the DL in Thai, but retaining some honorific level of Greek, and Slavonic, and English.

I write this with the spirit of a parlor discussion, not with any sort of desire to remake the liturgical status quo in a laboratory.

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Originally Posted by 8IronBob
... The priest and deacon were praying in English, but the choir threw everyone off, and responded in Slavonic throughout much of everything ...

IronBob,

I will agree that there is a certain jarring effect when an invocation is given in one language, and the response is given in another--especially since the last part of the invocation is the cue for the response. (Of course, some people are so used to having the choir respond for them that they don't even think of the responses as "theirs" at all--they won't notice this jarring.)

Originally Posted by 8IronBob
There are still parishes set up in the right way, though, especially in the UGCC parishes (mainly St. Josaphat Cathedral) where you either have a full English liturgy, or have a full native language liturgy throughout ...

I really don't see why a liturgy has to be *all* one language. Most people have no problem hearing short segments in an unknown language, and if these segments are repeated often enough ("Hospodij, pomiluij" for example), they even become familiar. The key, I think, is to be sensitive to the needs and preferences of the congregation, so that no one feels "left out."


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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Very good article. It could apply to the UK as well.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
I don't see why English and the traditional languages cannot be used interchangeably. It really isn't that hard.


Not everyone is fervent in the faith like yourself. If it was just me alone I would "suck it up" too and probably learn the entire Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian. But there is a family I need to consider. I don't want my kids to grow up in a Church that they are alientated in. We live in a very secular society and I want to have the best possible environment for them to be successful at continuing to be Christians. If they are detached from their parish community in any way, it won't take much to detach them completely from Christian life.

Also, if we're happy with our thinning population of cradles, lack of immigrants, and disinterest from the local populace, well, our parishes can keep being ethnic. In our care, the very few non-Ukrainians who have went through our parish never stayed. I think I've been the only one the last two years. There were those who came after me but I don't see them anymore. If the Byzantine faith is to not only grow and flourish, but remain in North America, it needs to be expressed in the culture of the land.

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If you speak many languages, you are polyglot. If you speak two languages, you are bi-lingual. If you speak one language, you are American--or in this case, Canadian. There is absolutely nothing at all wrong about retaining both the traditional and vernacular languages side-by-side. If you find Slavonic, or Greek or Latin or Aramaic or Arabic to be "alienating", that says a lot more about you than about those languages.

There are three very good reasons for retaining the traditional liturgical languages alongside the vernacular:

1. Continuity: the ancient languages are a visible and audible reminder of where the Church was, and of the clouds of witnesses who surround us; it manifests a dimension of the universality of the Church, just as much as the vernacular does.

2. Aesthetics: the liturgy was composed in specific languages, each with their own unique cadences, grammar, syntax and poetry. There are aspects of the liturgy in its original language that you will never catch in translation, no matter how good it may be (and most are not very good). In addition, the traditional tones are best heard in the original languages for which they were composed, and while many vernacular arrangements are quite good, resetting music composed for one language into a different language always involves compromise.

3. Keeping the liturgists honest: as long as the people are at least passingly familiar with the texts in the original languages, it will be difficult for "professional liturgists" to impose their own theological hobby horses upon them through the the use of tendentious translations. It happened in the Latin Church through the ICEL's appallingly banal and error-riddled paraphrase of the Novus Ordo Missae, to say nothing of the Revised Divine Liturgy.

I might also add that I think you are selling your kids short. Most kids are fascinated by languages and rapidly pick up new ones.

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By not using the native language of the people (in America English) the Church is being unfaithful to the Eastern Tradition, which is to have the liturgy in the vernacular.


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Originally Posted by Epiphanius
Originally Posted by 8IronBob
... The priest and deacon were praying in English, but the choir threw everyone off, and responded in Slavonic throughout much of everything ...

IronBob,

I will agree that there is a certain jarring effect when an invocation is given in one language, and the response is given in another--especially since the last part of the invocation is the cue for the response. (Of course, some people are so used to having the choir respond for them that they don't even think of the responses as "theirs" at all--they won't notice this jarring.)

Originally Posted by 8IronBob
There are still parishes set up in the right way, though, especially in the UGCC parishes (mainly St. Josaphat Cathedral) where you either have a full English liturgy, or have a full native language liturgy throughout ...

I really don't see why a liturgy has to be *all* one language. Most people have no problem hearing short segments in an unknown language, and if these segments are repeated often enough ("Hospodij, pomiluij" for example), they even become familiar. The key, I think, is to be sensitive to the needs and preferences of the congregation, so that no one feels "left out."


Peace,
Deacon Richard


Deacon Richard, I'm with you, on those points. I like hearing the Ukrainian/Slavonic, to be honest. The way it's done, at the local church, is the languages bounce off each other. It helps ease the transition. Being the only Asian there, I'm stepping into their world; and I'll respect it, and learn to assimilate in the process. For some ethnic parishes, it may be the only way to keep the culture, amid the divergence from the familial, to the societal.

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Originally Posted by Nelson Chase
By not using the native language of the people (in America English) the Church is being unfaithful to the Eastern Tradition, which is to have the liturgy in the vernacular.



Brother Nelson, I'd be more apt to say, the vernacular of the congregation. Although the majority of the people at the church I go to are Ukrainian, 80-90% of liturgy is in English.

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Originally Posted by Lester S
Originally Posted by Nelson Chase
By not using the native language of the people (in America English) the Church is being unfaithful to the Eastern Tradition, which is to have the liturgy in the vernacular.



Brother Nelson, I'd be more apt to say, the vernacular of the congregation. Although the majority of the people at the church I go to are Ukrainian, 80-90% of liturgy is in English.


True, but even so, the Ukrainian Cathedral here (St. Josaphat) still offers two full Ukrainian Liturgies, and two English Liturgies (one being the Saturday Vigil) every weekend. Also, there's a Croatian Byzantine Church (St. Nicholas) that usually offers Croatian (probably Slavonic) liturgies every other Sunday, which is the other parish that the priest from Holy Spirit Parish, is stationed at.

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By not using the native language of the people (in America English) the Church is being unfaithful to the Eastern Tradition, which is to have the liturgy in the vernacular.

This is only partly true. As Father Taft wrote in his book Through Their Own Eyes: Liturgy as the Byzantines Saw It , just how much of the Liturgy the Greeks of Constantinople actually understood is open to question. Much of the liturgical text was written in patristic Greek, the readings were delivered in Koine, and the homilists frequently affected an antiquarian Attic Greek--none of which were in daily use (hence not vernacular). And, while Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) may have been broadly intelligible over the breadth of the Slavic lands, the division of Slavonic into Eastern, Western, and Southern dialects, which eventually became the modern Slavic languages, meant that, by the sixteenth century, very little Slavonic would have been understandable to the typical Russian mouzhik. Indeed, Slavonic itself continued to evolve over time (being the language of diplomacy within the Byzantine commonwealth), so that early Slavonic would not be easily understood by someone who knew only late Slavonic. Today, in Greece and Russia, the liturgical language is not easily comprehended by the the average Greek or Russian.

In any case, the strict vernacularists are presenting a false dichotomy: the issue isn't traditional languages OR the vernacular: the solution is traditional languages AND the vernacular, both coexisting, both familiar, both loved and appreciated.

Anyone who says otherwise, on either side, is merely being provincial.

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Originally Posted by 8IronBob
Originally Posted by Lester S
Originally Posted by Nelson Chase
By not using the native language of the people (in America English) the Church is being unfaithful to the Eastern Tradition, which is to have the liturgy in the vernacular.



Brother Nelson, I'd be more apt to say, the vernacular of the congregation. Although the majority of the people at the church I go to are Ukrainian, 80-90% of liturgy is in English.


True, but even so, the Ukrainian Cathedral here (St. Josaphat) still offers two full Ukrainian Liturgies, and two English Liturgies (one being the Saturday Vigil) every weekend. Also, there's a Croatian Byzantine Church (St. Nicholas) that usually offers Croatian (probably Slavonic) liturgies every other Sunday, which is the other parish that the priest from Holy Spirit Parish, is stationed at.


Look at the bright side: at least you won't have to fork over 250-500 bucks for a Rosetta Stone style language learning experience (which I'm a fan of, but too broke to buy one :p)

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