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Can anyone help me with the provenance and sources for the meaning of the "Eternal Memory" sung at panakhydas etc.

Is it Biblical? Patristic?

And what does it mean? The meaning is not obvious (at least to me). I would really appreciate some scholarly source(s) as to the meaning of the term.

thanks!

Herb

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Our memory is not eternal. God's memory is eternal. We forget those who die (eventually). But if the Lord remembers them they are secure. Our prayer "Eternal Memory" is a plea to the Lord to remember the one who has died.

I'd have to do some digging for references (and don't have the time right now) but think of the verses like:

Proverbs 10:7 - "The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot."

Psalm 9:5 - "You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever."

And think of the prayer that introduces it: "In blessed repose grant, O Lord, eternal rest to Your departed servant, N., and grant him eternal memory."

Hope this helps!

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Indeed, the universe and all in it remain in existence only so long as the Lord continually calls us to mind.

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Does it mean that we are asking that God remember the Repose and so keep him in existence until the general Resurrection?

Or does it mean that we are asking that God remember to resurrect him at the general Resurrection?

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It amounts to the same thing.

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Many, many, many cradle (and I am sure converts) people don't really get this.

Many people think it means for their memories to be blessed and for their memories to be eternal to *us here on earth*.

Many people then equate this with the memorial service as something for the living to remember the deceased, as it is, I believe in Protestant traditions.

Ofcourse as the Admin. says, this is incorrect.

I had to ask an Orthodox Archimandrite from a more traditional jurisdiction than my own about this years ago, as I too was confused because it was *never* clarified or explained to us American born and English speaking cradles.

He said, in essence, that we are asking God to grant that their memory be eternal in His Kingdom...

Admin. quoted:

"In blessed repose grant, O Lord, eternal rest to Your departed servant, N., and grant him eternal memory."

I think here is where the problem lies.

It would be much more understandable to the laity if it said ....and grant *that you will remember him/her eternally*, or *grant that his memory will be eternal in your kingdom"...or something like that.

I understand that it is simply 'aionia i mnimi' in Greek which translates as 'eternal(be)his/her memory' in English, verbatim, but that must have been understood differently in Byzantine Greek than its translation is in the present English.

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Originally Posted by Herbigny
...the "Eternal Memory" sung at panakhydas etc.

Is it Biblical?

There is also

RSV Psalm 112:6 For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered for ever.

A Communion Hymn for the deceased is:

"Blessed are they whom You have chosen and received, O Lord, they are remembered forever (or from generation to generation).

There is one church I know where it was the custom to sing this hymn after singing "Eternal Memory".


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"Blessed are they whom You have chosen and received, O Lord, they are remembered forever (or from generation to generation).


Again confusing!!!

'They are remembered forever (or from generation to generation)' sounds like we are saying that they are remembered this way on earth !!!

I cannot understand why the language in all these hymns and prayers is so ambiguous. frown

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Alice brings up a good point on texts. There are many translations and the one I offered was from memory, and not exact (sorry for not being exact!). The Levkulic Pew Book renders it as:

"In blessed repose grant, O Lord, eternal rest to the soul of Your servant, N., and remember him forever."

This never meshed when singing "Eternal Memory". In Slavonic one ended the prayer with ... "i sotvori jemu vičnuju pamjat'" and then sang "Vičnaja pamjat" (and they matched). I had taken to rendering the ending as "grant him eternal memory" so that the final words of the translation of the petition matched they hymn that followed. But that leaves it unclear that we are asking the Lord to remember the departed.

It would probably be better to consider rewording this as:

"In blessed repose grant, O Lord, eternal rest to the soul of Your servant, N., and remember him eternally."

Certainly something to think about!

-

To add to Deacon Tony's quotes:

Brenton's LXX: Psalm 112:6 - For he shall not be moved for ever; the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.

Young's Literal: Psalm 112:6 - For -- to the age he is not moved; For a memorial age-during is the righteous.

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...and remember him eternally."

Administrator,

Excellent! I will try to remember this to offer to any cleric in my jurisdiction willing to listen.

It has been said that our theology and catechism in the East is essentially in our prayers. This was one where the translation really set up the faithful to thinking in a way that is so far from Eastern Christian understanding that it could even be considered heresy!

Thanks again...

Alice

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One of my Orthodox priest friends sent me this once and I paste it here for your comment and edification:


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As the funeral service is now nornally served, the Beatitudes are chanted after the canon and the hymns of Saint John, with prayer verses inserted between them on behalf of the dead. The epistle reading is from First Thessalonians (4:13-17). The gospel reading is from Saint John (5:24-30). A sermon is preached and the people are dismissed after giving their "final kiss" with the singing of the final funeral song: Eternal Memory.

It has to be noted here that this song, contrary to the common understanding of it, is the supplication that God would remember the dead, for in the Bible it is God's "eternal memory" which keeps man alive. Sheol or Hades or the Pit, the biblical realm of the dead also called Abaddon, is the condition of forsakenness and forgottenness by God. It is the situation of non-life since in such a condition no one can praise the Lord; and the praise of the Lord is the only content and purpose of man's life; it is the very reason for his existence. Thus, this most famous and final of the Orthodox funeral hymns is the prayer that the departed be eternally alive in the "eternal rest" of the "eternal memory" of God -- all of which is made possible and actual by the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the destruction of the Pit of Death by the splendor of Divine Righteousness and Life (see Ps 88; Hos 13:14; 1 Cori 15; Eph 4:9; Phil 2:5-11; 1 Pet 3).

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dear All:

thank you so very much.

I was always wondering what Memory Eternal meant.

I wonder if the Fathers ever wrote about it?


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I found this searching for something else. A very interesting paper. He relates the two: Brothers Karamazov with Eternal Memory. And brings it down to the trauma of his own life, with the Lord leading him to Orthodoxy. Read the whole paper, I really didn't know what part of it to post.

DOSTOEVSKY AND MEMORY ETERNAL
An Eastern Orthodox Approach to the Brothers Karamazov

by Donald Sheehan

References to Brothers Karamazov pertain to the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation.

...I have told you all of this simply to make this point. As the Orthodox Fathers long ago said, we are persons because we are wholly unique, entirely unrepeatable, and forever irreplaceable. As a member of a biological species, or as a socioeconomic entity, or even as an Orthodox parishioner and subdeacon, I am entirely repeatable, and, in every conceivable way, replaceable. But as a person to whom these things happened and these consequences followed, I can only echo Dmitri's ontological song: I am!

After Fr. Zosima dies, Alyosha composes a biography of the Elder from (in the title Alyosha gives it) "His Own Words." In the early pages of this biography, Fr. Zosima says this:

From my parental home I brought only precious memories, for no memories are more precious to a man than those of his earliest childhood in his parental home, and that is almost always so, as long as there is even a little bit of love and unity in the family. But from a very bad family, too, one can keep precious memories, if only one's soul knows how to seek out what is precious.

Here, perhaps, is the most beautiful understanding of Memory Eternal both in Eastern Orthodoxy and in Dostoevsky. It is the soul's seeking out what is precious - that is, what is unceasingly alive - even in the darkest, most afflicted of circumstances. And the crucial point, in the novels and in the Church, is that such seeking can succeed most fully and directly through what Dostoevsky calls "a whole life's obedience" to the historical Orthodox Church and Her long traditions of fasting and prayer. For in this obedience, we avoid the terrible fate of those who (like Ivan Karamazov) seek to find themselves in themselves. Instead, like Alyosha and (in the end) Dmitri, we come to understand that we are precious not in our self-assertion but only in our self-emptying.

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~karamazo/sheehan.html


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