Author Topic: Non-English services  (Read 777 times)

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Offline Wildflower

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Non-English services
« on: July 27, 2018, 04:26:33 PM »
I converted to the Orthodox Christian church several years ago and am an English speaker.  I attend a church that is mixture of Greek-English parishioners.  Most of the services are mainly English with some Greek and is fairly easy to follow so no problems there.   My question is that there are the occasional services that is mainly Greek with long stretches of Greek prayers and hymns and the occasional English.   Right now I am just listening to the syllables of the Greek language but then mind drifts off since I don’t understand what is being said.  I am not trying to suggest to change the language of the service and am able to follow the physical actions of the other worshipers (crossing self, kneeling, etc) but I am wondering how other people focus their thoughts for optimal worship and participation during a service when it is not their language.   


Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2018, 12:15:59 AM »
Have you considered looking into a bilingual book? There are some with transliterated Greek characters online, if you have a hard time with the original alphabet.

Once in a rare while I do watch half-Slavonic liturgy, and although I can now follow up on everything due to being used with liturgy on my own language and knowing some very basic Russian, in the beginning I only followed up because they had bilingual books, in both Slavonic and Portuguese, and I could read their alphabet.
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Offline Wildflower

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2018, 09:27:43 AM »
That is a good idea.  I will look into this.

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2018, 11:33:13 PM »
I've been to many liturgies where the language was not one I knew.  And that lack of language comprehension IN NO WAY prevented me from being a participant in the liturgy.  It's kind of fitting that you ask this on the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of the Kievan Rus whose envoys told Prince Vladimir that "they did not know whether they were in heaven and earth" after being present in Agia Sophia for a liturgy.  They didn't go back and say, "We didn't understand the language and so we couldn't participate.  Better keep looking for a new religion, Your Highness." Participation does not mean comprehension of every single syllable nor singing of every note.  Participation can happen also in a very passive way;  Liturgy is the work done on behalf of the people, done for us.  The benefits and blessings can and do still happen.  One thing I would recommend is for you to put down the book.  "let him who has ears, let him hear."  It's not "Let him who has eyes, let him read."  Too many of our "participants" in Liturgies are readers more than hearers. SPend more of Liturgy listening.
Da quod iubes et iube quod vis.

Offline hecma925

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2018, 11:49:48 PM »
I've been to many liturgies where the language was not one I knew.  And that lack of language comprehension IN NO WAY prevented me from being a participant in the liturgy.  It's kind of fitting that you ask this on the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of the Kievan Rus whose envoys told Prince Vladimir that "they did not know whether they were in heaven and earth" after being present in Agia Sophia for a liturgy.  They didn't go back and say, "We didn't understand the language and so we couldn't participate.  Better keep looking for a new religion, Your Highness." Participation does not mean comprehension of every single syllable nor singing of every note.  Participation can happen also in a very passive way;  Liturgy is the work done on behalf of the people, done for us.  The benefits and blessings can and do still happen.  One thing I would recommend is for you to put down the book.  "let him who has ears, let him hear."  It's not "Let him who has eyes, let him read."  Too many of our "participants" in Liturgies are readers more than hearers. SPend more of Liturgy listening.

+1
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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2018, 06:46:09 PM »
I agree with Scamandrius; well, actually 90% service I attend are in language that I understand only to some extend, i.e. Church Slavonic; and I'm lucky that I had classes of it at my parish for a few years, so.. it's not so bad. But as for the variable portions, I read them in Polish or any other language I know. But it's for better understandment. Because, as it goes for prayer, you learn it your whole Christian life, and prayer is a kind of talk and relation with God, so focus on that aspect, that's, btw, very difficult.
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Offline ComingofAge

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2018, 07:33:01 PM »
A prayer rope and the Jesus Prayer always comes in handy for me when I drift off or am in a service that is in a language I don't fully comprehend.
Let us open our mouths and sing hymns of salvation. Come and fall down in the house of the Lord and say: Pardon our sins, you who hung upon the cross and rose from the dead, and yet are forever in the bosom of the Father.

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Offline Ainnir

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2018, 09:34:50 PM »
Honestly, my mind can drift in an all-English service.  :-[  But if I was trying to "tune in" and connect with services in a language I didn't understand, I'd probably just try to pick up repetitive parts I could hum along with, as well as bits of the language.  It's probably pretty obvious when the Trinity is being invoked, for example.  "Lord, have mercy" similarly can be picked out pretty quickly.  But if you're wanting to be instructed by the service as a whole?  My only idea is to find an English transcript of it beforehand (if that's possible) so you'll at least know what's going on and why.  :)
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.

Offline hecma925

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2018, 10:02:17 PM »
The best part is when Serb grandmothers surround me.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2018, 12:14:47 AM »
The best part is when Serb grandmothers surround me.

OK.
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2018, 12:16:31 AM »
The best part is when Serb grandmothers surround me.

OK.

They won't stop feeding me!
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2018, 10:17:03 AM »
The best part is when Serb grandmothers surround me.

OK.

They won't stop feeding me!
How is that related to the thread?
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2018, 10:21:07 AM »
The best part is when Serb grandmothers surround me.

OK.

They won't stop feeding me!

The better to eat you, my dear.
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Offline Cognomen

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2018, 12:18:18 PM »
I've been to many liturgies where the language was not one I knew.  And that lack of language comprehension IN NO WAY prevented me from being a participant in the liturgy.  It's kind of fitting that you ask this on the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of the Kievan Rus whose envoys told Prince Vladimir that "they did not know whether they were in heaven and earth" after being present in Agia Sophia for a liturgy.  They didn't go back and say, "We didn't understand the language and so we couldn't participate.  Better keep looking for a new religion, Your Highness." Participation does not mean comprehension of every single syllable nor singing of every note.  Participation can happen also in a very passive way;  Liturgy is the work done on behalf of the people, done for us.  The benefits and blessings can and do still happen.  One thing I would recommend is for you to put down the book.  "let him who has ears, let him hear."  It's not "Let him who has eyes, let him read."  Too many of our "participants" in Liturgies are readers more than hearers. SPend more of Liturgy listening.

May I suggest pumping up the empathy/sympathy for folks who struggle with this issue and aren't as adept at liturgying as you are. Maybe it doesn't affect you, but it affects others, myself included. For as much as I try to be a "hearer," language barriers can be frustrating. If we could all be perfectly enamored with the services in their entirety, regardless of comprehension, that would indeed be magical. Sadly, not all of us are.

In some of our cases, it doesn't have to do with demanding to comprehend "every single syllable nor singing every note," but feeling deeply challenged by this obstacle, over significant periods of time. I'm on my third lengthy iteration of services in different languages that I don't really understand. I experience the hymns, the homily, etc. differently and, dare I say, less completely than others who can understand the language. In that sense, IT DOES affect my ability to participate in the liturgy.

The OP was reasonable, understanding, and asking for suggestions. You greeted him with a lecture on the Kievan Rus and being a good "hearer." I sincerely hope that your contribution was more helpful to Wildflower than it was to me.
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Offline Bryan Paul

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2018, 02:56:35 PM »
Instead of the standard, "Get over it, you English-speaking interloper," here's a few practical (I hope) pieces advice:
  • Join the choir. You may not actually learn the language, but learning to pronounce the funny looking letters will keep you occupied during the service.
  • Focus on the reason you're there—to receive the Eucharist. Watch how the interplay of each part of the liturgy leads up to this.
  • Learn the parts of the service. This probably should have been listed before the last item. The Divine Liturgy is made up of many sections, each with its own purpose. Learning these, and learning to recognize them will not only keep you occupied but will be spiritually edifying.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2018, 11:40:58 PM »
I've been to many liturgies where the language was not one I knew.  And that lack of language comprehension IN NO WAY prevented me from being a participant in the liturgy.  It's kind of fitting that you ask this on the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of the Kievan Rus whose envoys told Prince Vladimir that "they did not know whether they were in heaven and earth" after being present in Agia Sophia for a liturgy.  They didn't go back and say, "We didn't understand the language and so we couldn't participate.  Better keep looking for a new religion, Your Highness." Participation does not mean comprehension of every single syllable nor singing of every note.  Participation can happen also in a very passive way;  Liturgy is the work done on behalf of the people, done for us.  The benefits and blessings can and do still happen.  One thing I would recommend is for you to put down the book.  "let him who has ears, let him hear."  It's not "Let him who has eyes, let him read."  Too many of our "participants" in Liturgies are readers more than hearers. SPend more of Liturgy listening.

May I suggest pumping up the empathy/sympathy for folks who struggle with this issue and aren't as adept at liturgying as you are. Maybe it doesn't affect you, but it affects others, myself included. For as much as I try to be a "hearer," language barriers can be frustrating. If we could all be perfectly enamored with the services in their entirety, regardless of comprehension, that would indeed be magical. Sadly, not all of us are.

In some of our cases, it doesn't have to do with demanding to comprehend "every single syllable nor singing every note," but feeling deeply challenged by this obstacle, over significant periods of time. I'm on my third lengthy iteration of services in different languages that I don't really understand. I experience the hymns, the homily, etc. differently and, dare I say, less completely than others who can understand the language. In that sense, IT DOES affect my ability to participate in the liturgy.

The OP was reasonable, understanding, and asking for suggestions. You greeted him with a lecture on the Kievan Rus and being a good "hearer." I sincerely hope that your contribution was more helpful to Wildflower than it was to me.

I wrote that for Wildflower, not for you.  Next time, I will attempt to be more clairvoyant when answering a question so you can then read what you want to hear and justify your own beliefs without considering other possibilities.
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2018, 11:51:42 PM »
The best part is when Serb grandmothers surround me.

OK.

They won't stop feeding me!
How is that related to the thread?

I don't understand them.
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

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Offline Sharbel

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2018, 11:52:16 PM »
According Fr. Evan Armatas, a priest of Greek descent in the Greek Orthodox Church in CO, that those Orthodox parishes, whichever the jurisdiction, that use English generously in their liturgies are the ones growing organically and receiving converts, unlike those that don't.

What would Sts. Cyril and Methodius do?
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2018, 02:38:15 AM »
What would Sts. Cyril and Methodius do?
Develop an alphabet to translate the Divine Liturgy to American and convert the local barbarians?
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Offline Bryan Paul

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2018, 09:26:54 AM »
What would Sts. Cyril and Methodius do?
Develop an alphabet to translate the Divine Liturgy to American and convert the local barbarians?
Which makes the continued use of Church Slavonic deeply ironic. The language standardized by Ss. Cyril and Methodius in order that the local inhabitants could participate in the prayers of the Church in their own tongue is still being used despite the fact that it now prevents people from participating in the prayers of the Church.
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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2018, 12:59:24 PM »
What would Sts. Cyril and Methodius do?
Develop an alphabet to translate the Divine Liturgy to American and convert the local barbarians?
Which makes the continued use of Church Slavonic deeply ironic. The language standardized by Ss. Cyril and Methodius in order that the local inhabitants could participate in the prayers of the Church in their own tongue is still being used despite the fact that it now prevents people from participating in the prayers of the Church.

 ;)
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2018, 03:29:29 PM »
What would Sts. Cyril and Methodius do?
Develop an alphabet to translate the Divine Liturgy to American and convert the local barbarians?
Which makes the continued use of Church Slavonic deeply ironic. The language standardized by Ss. Cyril and Methodius in order that the local inhabitants could participate in the prayers of the Church in their own tongue is still being used despite the fact that it now prevents people from participating in the prayers of the Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church seems to have a bad memory about translating the Divine Liturgy to Russian due to the evil Living Church.
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2018, 03:30:32 PM »
BTW, since Ss. Cyril and Methodius probably used Slavic runes to make some Glagolitic letters, do you guys think they would have used emojis to make an American alphabet? Selam.  :angel:
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2018, 07:44:58 PM »
Slavonic was an artificially created language out of old Bulgarian to help the Slavs to understand Greek.
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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2018, 08:40:46 PM »
Slavonic was an artificially created language out of old Bulgarian to help the Slavs to understand Greek.

Conspiracies and dark mysteries of power.
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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2018, 06:56:11 AM »
Slavonic was an artificially created language out of old Bulgarian to help the Slavs to understand Greek.

Conspiracies and dark mysteries of power.

 :-*
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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #26 on: August 03, 2018, 02:01:59 PM »
Slavonic was an artificially created language out of old Bulgarian to help the Slavs to understand Greek.

Conspiracies and dark mysteries of power.

Hardly that.
Da quod iubes et iube quod vis.

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2018, 02:30:17 PM »
Slavonic was an artificially created language out of old Bulgarian to help the Slavs to understand Greek.

MAY I REMIND YOU AGAIN! SLAVONIC WAS NOT MADE TO HELP SLAVS LEARN GREEK!!! 
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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2018, 04:23:14 PM »
Slavonic was an artificially created language out of old Bulgarian to help the Slavs to understand Greek.

MAY I REMIND YOU AGAIN! SLAVONIC WAS NOT MADE TO HELP SLAVS LEARN GREEK!!!
+1 (again)
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2018, 05:46:03 PM »
Slavonic was an artificially created language out of old Bulgarian to help the Slavs to understand Greek.

MAY I REMIND YOU AGAIN! SLAVONIC WAS NOT MADE TO HELP SLAVS LEARN GREEK!!!
+1 (again)

Slavs still don't speak Greek, so if that Ss. Cyril and Methodius' intent, they failed.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2018, 03:03:20 PM »
Well, a lot of Slavs in Greece started speaking, and eventually became, Greek (but probably not because of Slavonic).
Quote
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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2018, 04:10:55 PM »
What would Sts. Cyril and Methodius do?
Develop an alphabet to translate the Divine Liturgy to American and convert the local barbarians?
Which makes the continued use of Church Slavonic deeply ironic. The language standardized by Ss. Cyril and Methodius in order that the local inhabitants could participate in the prayers of the Church in their own tongue is still being used despite the fact that it now prevents people from participating in the prayers of the Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church seems to have a bad memory about translating the Divine Liturgy to Russian due to the evil Living Church.
That, and there are still many Russian (and other nationalities who pray in Church Slavonic) immigrants in the diaspora, and so ROCOR, ROC-Moscow Patriarchate, and some OCA parishes with a significant immigrant presence still have a need to use Church Slavonic in their services. That said, some ROCOR parishes have adopted English, either exclusively, or in combination with Church Slavonic.

Offline Alpo

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2018, 04:26:17 PM »
Slavonic was an artificially created language out of old Bulgarian to help the Slavs to understand Greek.

MAY I REMIND YOU AGAIN! SLAVONIC WAS NOT MADE TO HELP SLAVS LEARN GREEK!!!
+1 (again)

Slavs still don't speak Greek, so if that Ss. Cyril and Methodius' intent, they failed.

AFAIK it has never been a vernacular language either though.   A liturgical language is bound to be obscure and IMO old-fashioned and there's no way getting around it.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 04:27:29 PM by Alpo »
I just need to find out how to say it in Slavonic!

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2018, 04:38:32 PM »
Are the Suomi liturgical translations in an archaic style?
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Offline Alpo

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2018, 04:46:37 PM »
I'm not a Linguist but not to my ear but more like bureaucratic if that makes any sense. Meaning that wording have to conform to both Greek original and Slavic melodies which sometimes leads into awkward results. Our liturgical language is probably more closer to vernacular than in many other jurisdictions just due to the fact that the translation was first done in 19th century instead of 9th century. If we had more history our language would probably be more archaic.

Not that my church's standards would have any value for me in itself. I'd prefer more archaisms than we usually have.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 04:51:25 PM by Alpo »
I just need to find out how to say it in Slavonic!

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Non-English services
« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2018, 07:38:51 PM »
We use archaic Portuguese in Brazil, probably since we have a long corpus of biblical translations plus Roman Catholic liturgics and prayer for comparison's sake. But it doesn't sound very foreign. Apart from specific terminology and archaisms that only pop up in religious language (such as an older set of pronouns), it's pretty much how major reporters talk in the news.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 07:39:32 PM by RaphaCam »
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