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Re: [ustav] Sticheron for the Nativity of the Forerunner

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  • frjsilver@aol.com
    Christ is risen! Truly risen! Dear Friends -- In a message dated 07/06/2002 10:04:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... IMHO, Fr David is exactly right, and God
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 6, 2002
      Christ is risen! Truly risen!

      Dear Friends --

      In a message dated 07/06/2002 10:04:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
      fr.straut@... (Fr David Straut) writes:


      > Dear Br Isaac, Fr John, Reader Daniel, and other List Members,
      >
      > I received this message from my choir director this morning:
      >
      > "I'm reading through the stichera on Lord I have cried for the feast of St.
      > John the Baptist...and was wondering if there was an error in
      > translation...Here is the stichera
      >
      > 7. When the Word of God willed to be born of the Virgin,/ His angel,
      > the highest of the prophets and greatest born of women,/ issued forth from
      > elderly loins;/ for it was meet that he be the all-glorious beginning of
      > things divine:/ an offspring produced past the age of fertility,/ a
      > conception accomplished without seed./ O Thou Who workest miracles for our
      > salvation,// glory be to Thee!
      >
      >
      > I thought the only conception without seed was Christ...? Help!"
      >
      > This was my reply:
      >
      > "It took me aback on first reading too. However, I think that the
      > sticheron is juxtaposing the conception of Christ with the Forerunner's
      > conception. "When the Word of God willed to be born of the Virgin..." with
      > "His angel... issued forth from elderly loins;" and then in reverse "an
      > offspring produced past the age of fertility" with "a conception
      > accomplished without seed." I agree that it is confusing in English. I
      > think the original Greek (and, I would think, Slavonic), being an inflected
      > language, is more clear than English translation."
      >
      > Do you think this reply is substantially coorect?

      IMHO, Fr David is exactly right, and God bless the choir director for
      questioning this hymn and its confusing phrases, which seem to need a little
      exegesis, if not a full-fledged homily, to make sure that they're properly
      understood.

      Although it's evident that the rendering we're given here was translated into
      English from a Church Slavonic translation rather than from the original
      Greek, it's not the fault of the English-language translator that this hymn
      is difficult to understand.

      In characteristic Byzantine rhetorical style, the conception of the
      Forerunner is given poetic expression with oblique references to scriptural
      locations, perhaps IS 7:14 and JN 3:30. It's also true that neither St John
      nor our Lord married and had children, so -- from that point of view -- both
      can be said to be 'without increase'. But this is poetry.

      Not only was the Messenger ('angel') conceived and born, but he heralded the
      seedless conception of the Word of God, Whose Own conception followed his by
      only six months. These are awesome concepts, and hard to express in language
      altogether, let alone liturgical hymns.

      Here's a rendering of this stikheron I did some time ago.
      Maybe it will be of some help in clearing our thoughts:

      24 June: NATIVITY OF THE FORERUNNER
      Evening Service: Lord, I Cry: Mode 4

      Stikheron 3 (by Anatolios)
      When the Word of God willed to be born of the Virgin,
      an Angel came forth from barren childbearing,
      great among those born of woman,
      and more unusual than any prophet.
      For it was fitting that these divine events begin wondrously
      with a child without increase and a conception without seed.
      Working wonders for our salvation,
      Lord, glory to You!

      I hope that this is of at least a little help.

      Through the prayers of Your holy Forerunner,
      Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.

      Peace and blessings to all.

      Monk James




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