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Re: [orthodox-readers] Annunciation / Holy Saturday Liturgical Texts

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  • Alexander Vallens
    Dear Reader Andrew, Glory to Jesus Christ! The purpose of the thee and thou is not to convey spiritual respect, sovereignty and otherness of GOD , as
    Message 1 of 7 , Mar 17, 2007
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      Dear Reader Andrew,
      Glory to Jesus Christ!

      The purpose of the "'thee' and 'thou'" is not to "convey spiritual
      respect, sovereignty and 'otherness' of GOD", as you put it, rather
      to promote the proper understanding of God and the saints in the
      informal sense, even in this modern era when the differentiation
      between formal and informal use has fallen out of use. Please refer
      to the attached piece I wrote for further explanation.

      Wishing a blessed Fast, Holy Week, and Paschal season,
      With love in Christ,
      Dn. Alexander


      The issue of the second person singular pronoun in English
      liturgical use is nothing less than highly contested and a source of
      great disagreement between theologians and laity alike. The King
      James Bible makes use of the archaic “thou/thy” pronoun, while
      modern linguistic usage has dropped this pronoun almost entirely in
      favor of “you/your”, which is both historically and in modern
      usage the second person plural pronoun. Although the issue is almost
      entirely uncontested in regular linguistic usage, in liturgical use,
      whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, no real consensus exists.
      The more traditional elements prefer the King James language, while
      the more renovationist prefer the modern usage. Unfortunately, this
      great debate has led to a highly problematic and borderline heretical
      usage in some English-speaking Orthodox churches, where the archaic
      form is used for God, while the modern form is used for everyone
      else. Granted, this usage arose from an effort to preserve solemnity
      and poetry, while addressing the reality of modern language. However,
      the implications of such usage upon reflection are in fact very severe.
      In modern colloquial English usage, no distinction is made between
      the second person singular and plural, nor between formal and
      informal. In the vast majority of Indo-European languages, however,
      separate pronouns denoting informal second person singular and second
      person plural, while “borrowing” a plural pronoun for use as a
      formal second person singular pronoun. For example, in Russian, ты
      (ty) is the informal second person singular pronoun, while вы (vy)
      is both the second person plural and the formal second person
      singular pronoun. Both the Ancient Greek and Church Slavonic, the
      root languages from which we derive our present English liturgical
      texts, preserve this distinction, a contrast which plays a
      significant role theologically. The very fact that God is addressed
      in the informal sense is an extremely important theological
      statement, since the Christian God is not seen as an unreachable and
      distant force, but a Real and Personal Deity with which humans
      interact in a relationship comparable to child and parent. This
      reality is greatly distorted by either the RSV (Revised Standard
      Version Bible) standard, which uses the “Thou/Thy” pronouns for
      God alone, or by the colloquial standard, which uses the “you/
      your” pronouns in informal, formal, and plural situations. Even
      though the latter form lacks the ability to make the aforementioned
      theological statement of informal relationship between man and God, a
      case can be made that such usage accurately reflects the spoken and
      widely understandable English language, and therefore should be the
      liturgical language of choice. However, the latter RSV usage creates
      an unnecessary dichotomy between God and the saints, a distinction
      which borders on heresy, and therefore should be used for no reason
      in the Orthodox Church.
      The usage of “thou/thy” pronouns is not understood by many
      English speakers, native or otherwise. In modern times it has often
      become understood that “thou/thy” are archaic formal second person
      pronouns. For example, in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Darth
      Vader addresses the emperor in a clearly formal manner, asking “What
      is thy bidding, master?” Such usage of “thou” is not historical,
      and does not reflect the etymology shared with many Indo-European
      languages, as seen in several cognates: “tu” in Latin, French,
      Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Irish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Portuguese,
      and Romanian; “du” in German, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish;
      “su” in Greek; and “ty” in Russian, all of which are second
      person informal pronouns. Even if the “thou/thy” pronouns were
      formal, however, it would not be the appropriate ones to use in
      addressing God, since with God we have a familiar relationship. We
      see this in the New Testament in the direct and loving interaction
      between Jesus and His disciples, culmination in the Epistle of St.
      Paul to the Romans: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage
      again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby
      we cry, Abba, Father.” It would be ridiculous for us to address God,
      whom we can call “Abba” (this is translatable to our “daddy”),
      in the formal sense. Rather, the personal and real nature of our
      relationship with God is exemplified through the use of the familiar
      pronoun in addressing Him.
      We must remember, also, that we maintain a real and personal
      relationship with the saints as well as God. Although this
      relationship is not exactly the same as with God, nevertheless it is
      a familiar relationship, one akin to being among family. The saints
      are a real part of our family of believers, and we look to them not
      only as shining examples of how to live the True Faith, but as our
      heavenly intercessors before the Throne of God. The saints are not
      (or at least shouldn’t be) unknown to us, but are acquaintances
      within the Body of Christ on a level beyond any earthly relationship.
      To address anyone within the community of believers (that is, using
      Pauline language, the saints) formally, while addressing God
      informally, as the RSV usage does, denies the reality of our personal
      relationship with the saints. This sounds more like Protestant
      theology than Orthodox, and really should be considered blasphemous,
      if not outright heretical. As such,, RSV usage of personal pronouns
      should be stopped immediately, lest crypto-Protestantism creep deeper
      and deeper within the Church in America, moving beyond simply bad
      liturgical usage to outright bad theological understanding of our
      relationship with God and the saints.
      Having established that consistent language must be used in
      addressing God and the saints, the question remains about which form
      be chosen. It would not be improper to say that such a question can
      be left to personal preference, since there is no real theological
      implication in choosing either, provided of course that the use of
      the older “thou/thy” pronouns be accompanied with education about
      the proper meaning of these pronouns. Nevertheless, a serious
      argument can be made in favor of the archaic usage, in that its
      deviation from colloquial usage (again, when accompanied with proper
      education) specifically underscores and emphasizes our familiar
      relationship with God and the saints, whereas in the colloquial usage
      this would be left in question. Orthodox worship is geared to
      reflect, exemplify, and highlight Orthodox theology. The use of non-
      colloquial pronouns in worship would specifically draw attention to
      the reality of our personal interaction with God and the saints.
      Perhaps it is not necessary to raise such awareness, but it certainly
      would benefit the many who through conversion or interaction with
      Protestantism might lack the Orthodox understanding of our relations
      with God and His saints.
      There is no question whether Orthodox worship expresses Orthodox
      theology in an existential manner. Therefore, the worship cannot
      contradict, even remotely, that same theology. The English speaking
      Orthodox Church should, without doubt, unify under a single
      translation of Scripture and liturgical texts. Although this may not
      occur for a while, it is imperative that the RSV pronoun usage be
      dropped immediately. A great disservice lies in such usage, and it is
      patently unOrthodox in nature, and thus has no place in Orthodox
      worship.


      On Mar 13, 2007, at 5:39 AM, axios19 wrote:

      > ...i do respect retainung the "thee" and "thou" in these texts in
      > that they convey the spiritual respect, soverrignty and
      > "otherness" of GOD
    • James Morgan
      Dear Reader Andrew: You and I and some others are fighting against the tide here! I look wistfully at Archimandrite Ephrem s translations on www.anastasis.com
      Message 2 of 7 , Mar 17, 2007
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        Dear Reader Andrew:
        You and I and some others are fighting against the tide here! I look
        wistfully at Archimandrite Ephrem's translations on www.anastasis.com now
        and then but am stuck with the strange circumlocutions I have to chant from
        either Rdr. Isaac's or the OCA stuff. I am certain that there must be a
        dignified and theologically appropriate manner in which our hymnography
        could be translated into our daily English but sometimes I despair.
        And I am still struck with wonder at what Rdr.Isaac Lambertson hath wrought,
        don't get me wrong. But I get tired of all the 'effulgences' now and
        then....

        Yours for liturgical archeology and epigraphy,
        Rdr. James Morgan
        Olympia, WA

        PS Others, let's not start a war until after Pentecost! This is just an op
        ed by little me, the humble reader....

        -----Original Message-----
        From: axios19
        Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 4:39 AM
        To: orthodox-readers@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [orthodox-readers] Annunciation / Holy Saturday Liturgical
        Texts

        ...why is the english so archaic in these texts ...? ...they are to be
        chanted in the name and on behalf on the assembly (peolpe of a spectrum of
        ages) who most likely will not have these texts in front of them ...our
        liturgical role as readers is a pastoral and ministerial one, namely to
        create an atmoshere of prayer ...even if we enunciate and avoid vibrato when
        we chant these texts it is so difficult to discern the words and meaning
        clearly ...we are in the 21st century not victotian times ...i do respect
        retainung the "thee" and "thou" in these texts in that they convey the
        spiritual respect, soverrignty and "otherness" of GOD but "hear me" sounds
        better than "harken unto me."..the OCA seems to have that "middle way" but
        they do not publish a full horologion ...i wish they did ...it is so
        unfortunate that jordanville and other groups are publishing comprehensive
        holrologions with this choice of english ...the english of the text should
        be chosen to promote
        an atmoshere of prayer and NOT nostalgia for victorian times or because
        they are available as a convenient comprehensive compendium ... your
        brother reader in XC, Tonsured Reader Andrew Ruiz-Madera....NYC...

        "Fr. John Whiteford" <frjohnwhiteford@...> wrote: Hello
        Folks,

        With thanks to Anna Voellmecke, Peter Fekula, and Nicholas Park, at the link
        below you will find texts for the Services of Annunication & Holy Saturday
        for 2007 (which will be re-usable in the year 2029):

        http://www.saintjonah.org/services/annunciation_holysat.htm

        Please let me know if you find any errors in them.

        -Fr. John Whiteford
      • Fr. John Whiteford
        One of the advantages of putting a liturgical text together is that you are the one that get s to decide how it should be done. Is someone wants to put a
        Message 3 of 7 , Mar 17, 2007
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          One of the advantages of putting a liturgical text together is that you are the one that get's to decide how it should be done. Is someone wants to put a you-who version together, no one is stopping them from doing so.

          As for why I prefer traditional Liturgical English, see:

          http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=12-04-110-r

          -Fr. John Whiteford

          axios19 <axios19@...> wrote:
          ...why is the english so archaic in these texts ...? ...they are to be chanted in the name and on behalf on the assembly (peolpe of a spectrum of ages) who most likely will not have these texts in front of them ...our liturgical role as readers is a pastoral and ministerial one, namely to create an atmoshere of prayer ...even if we enunciate and avoid vibrato when we chant these texts it is so difficult to discern the words and meaning clearly ...we are in the 21st century not victotian times ...i do respect retainung the "thee" and "thou" in these texts in that they convey the spiritual respect, soverrignty and "otherness" of GOD but "hear me" sounds better than "harken unto me."..the OCA seems to have that "middle way" but they do not publish a full horologion ...i wish they did ...it is so unfortunate that jordanville and other groups are publishing comprehensive holrologions with this choice of english ...the english of the text should be chosen to promote
          an atmoshere of prayer and NOT nostalgia for victorian times or because they are available as a convenient comprehensive compendium ... your brother reader in XC, Tonsured Reader Andrew Ruiz-Madera....NYC...

          "Fr. John Whiteford" wrote: Hello Folks,

          With thanks to Anna Voellmecke, Peter Fekula, and Nicholas Park, at the link below you will find texts for the Services of Annunication & Holy Saturday for 2007 (which will be re-usable in the year 2029):

          http://www.saintjonah.org/services/annunciation_holysat.htm

          Please let me know if you find any errors in them.

          -Fr. John Whiteford

          Fr. John Whiteford
          St. Jonah Orthodox Church
          Parish Home Page: http://www.saintjonah.org/
          ROCOR Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-rocor/
          Parish News: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/saintjonah/
          Blog: http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






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          To access this lists archives, go to:
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          ogion.htm

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          Fr. John Whiteford
          St. Jonah Orthodox Church
          Parish Home Page: http://www.saintjonah.org/
          ROCOR Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-rocor/
          Parish News: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/saintjonah/
          Blog: http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jeffrey Lee
          Although my children will tell you that I m quite ancient, I grew up in the late 60 s through the 80 s hardly the high point of the English language. However,
          Message 4 of 7 , Mar 18, 2007
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            Although my children will tell you that I'm quite ancient, I grew up
            in the late 60's through the 80's hardly the high point of the
            English language. However, I much prefer the more Elizabethan style
            English (reflecting the fact, perhaps, that I'm a recovering
            AngloCatholic). Age doesn't dictate what language you can manage. I
            find the older English deeper and richer. I found the Anglican
            Breviary to be a beautiful means of praying, but it did require that
            you learn a couple (really only a couple) of new words, and the older
            meaning for others. Most notably, you need to learn the word froward
            - which, if you have children will come in quite handy, and you need
            to learn that prevent, from pre and veni, means to come before.
            Beyond that, it wasn't very difficult, and it was quite lovely.

            That being said, there are limits. The language should be both
            intelligible, and reflective of the solemnity of the occasion
            (worship). So, going back to Elizabethan isn't bad. Going back to
            middle English would be a bit much. Its also part of the reason I'm
            not a big fan of all of the Koine still being used in GOA Churches.
            I'm enjoying learning Greek, but not even the native Greek speakers
            understand much of what is being said, if the dialect is 2000 years old.

            FYI, Fr. Ephraim, at St. Anthony's, publishes his texts in both
            Elizabethan and more modern English. Unfortunately that only
            encompasses the Divine Liturgy, Vespers, and part of Orthros at this
            point.


            On Mar 18, 2007, at 1:52 AM, Fr. John Whiteford wrote:

            > One of the advantages of putting a liturgical text together is that
            > you are the one that get's to decide how it should be done. Is
            > someone wants to put a you-who version together, no one is stopping
            > them from doing so.
            >
            > As for why I prefer traditional Liturgical English, see:
            >
            > http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=12-04-110-r
            >
            > -Fr. John Whiteford
            >
            > axios19 <axios19@...> wrote:
            > ...why is the english so archaic in these texts ...? ...they are to
            > be chanted in the name and on behalf on the assembly (peolpe of a
            > spectrum of ages) who most likely will not have these texts in
            > front of them ...our liturgical role as readers is a pastoral and
            > ministerial one, namely to create an atmoshere of prayer ...even if
            > we enunciate and avoid vibrato when we chant these texts it is so
            > difficult to discern the words and meaning clearly ...we are in the
            > 21st century not victotian times ...i do respect retainung the
            > "thee" and "thou" in these texts in that they convey the spiritual
            > respect, soverrignty and "otherness" of GOD but "hear me" sounds
            > better than "harken unto me."..the OCA seems to have that "middle
            > way" but they do not publish a full horologion ...i wish they
            > did ...it is so unfortunate that jordanville and other groups are
            > publishing comprehensive holrologions with this choice of
            > english ...the english of the text should be chosen to promote
            > an atmoshere of prayer and NOT nostalgia for victorian times or
            > because they are available as a convenient comprehensive
            > compendium ... your brother reader in XC, Tonsured Reader Andrew
            > Ruiz-Madera....NYC...
            >
            > "Fr. John Whiteford" wrote: Hello Folks,
            >
            > With thanks to Anna Voellmecke, Peter Fekula, and Nicholas Park, at
            > the link below you will find texts for the Services of Annunication
            > & Holy Saturday for 2007 (which will be re-usable in the year 2029):
            >
            > http://www.saintjonah.org/services/annunciation_holysat.htm
            >
            > Please let me know if you find any errors in them.
            >
            > -Fr. John Whiteford
            >
            > Fr. John Whiteford
            > St. Jonah Orthodox Church
            > Parish Home Page: http://www.saintjonah.org/
            > ROCOR Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-rocor/
            > Parish News: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/saintjonah/
            > Blog: http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            > ---------------------------------
            > Don't get soaked. Take a quick peek at the forecast
            > with theYahoo! Search weather shortcut.
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            > To learn more about reader services, see:
            > http://pages.prodigy.net/frjohnwhiteford/horologion.htm
            >
            > To access this lists archives, go to:
            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-readers
            > ogion.htm
            >
            > To access this lists archives, go to:
            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-readers
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            > Fr. John Whiteford
            > St. Jonah Orthodox Church
            > Parish Home Page: http://www.saintjonah.org/
            > ROCOR Discussion Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-rocor/
            > Parish News: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/saintjonah/
            > Blog: http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >

            -------
            Jeffrey Lee
            jeff@...

            War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and
            degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that
            nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for
            which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than
            his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of
            being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men
            than himself. - John Stuart Mill





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