Author Topic: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation  (Read 544 times)

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Offline Alpha60

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Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« on: April 02, 2018, 06:40:37 PM »
Last night I attended a Hierarchical Bridegroom Matins at a GoArch parish, which was exceptionally beautiful in terms of the choir service.

While there, I picked up a copy of GoArch’s Holy Week Service Book, which is a beautifully bound book with rubricated text, and a dark red cover with a Jerusalem Cross in gold, one of my favourite Christian symbols,   The book features everything from Psalm Sunday evening Bridegroom Matins (technically, Monday bridegroom Matins, because liturgically, Monday begins at sunset on Sunday, but the book appears to be designed to be user-friendly, and thus refers to services by the time of the secular day in which they occur, so the Bridegroom Matins services are listed as being in the evening of the preceding day).

There was one weird and slightly unpleasant aspect to the new contemporary language translation, composed by a venerable Archimandrite: instead of using the familiar and literal translation, “Now and ever and unto the ages of ages,” the new translation reads “Now and ever, and forever and ever.”   This struck me as being ungainly, and while some of the cantors used it, I noticed the bishop and some of the others stuck to the familiar “unto the ages of ages.”

Now, I like this phrase as a distinctive characteristic of Orthodox church services; it is the most literal translation of the original Greek eis toùs aiônas tôn aiṓnōn, and for that matter of the Latin seculae seculorum, more accurate than “World without end” which the Roman Catholics favor.  However, “forever and ever” or for that matter, the phrase used in the contemporary language translation of the Syriac Orthodox liturgy, “Now, always and forever,” are also very good translations of the phrase, and in somewhat clearer idiomatic English.  But, “Now and ever, and forever and ever” strikes me as being awkward, redundant and devoid of poetic beauty.  “Now and always,”  would have been a much better rendering, I think, or better yet, the simplicity of the Anglican dismissal, “May the Lord God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always,” seems appealing in that context.

I thought the new translation also failed quite a bit if the goal was to move to a simpler, more vernacular English.  Where the Metropolitan Kallistos Ware translation reads, “But return to soberness and cry aloud,” the new GoArch translation uses the even more obscure “Bestir yourself, then, and sing out:”   

Who even talks like that?  (other than me  :P )   *   It also uses the word “slain” instead of “killed.”   Fortunately it did not seem to deliberately favor gender neutral language in accordance with the modern trend, but it nonetheless did include the particularly cringe-worthy “Peace on Earth and good will towards all people.”

Are the rest of the new GoArch translations in the same style?  If so, I have to say I think thats unfortunate, because the new translation seems to me to not be a particularly good as a vernacular translation, owing to its use of obscure words and phrases like “bestir” (as a general rule of thumb, a good vernacular translation should read like I did not write it :P), and the use of very awkward phrases like “Now and ever and forever and ever.”   I would also lament the fact that the new translation  abandons the exquisite ecclesiastical English prose of the Triodion and the Festal Menaion as translated by His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia and Mother Mary, the foremost scholars and translators in the English-speaking Orthodox church, who happen to be members of the Greek Orthodox church in Great Britain, and like GoArch, under the sublime omophorion of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.  The fact that the foremost translation of the Triodion was composed in the Greek Orthodox church makes the fact that it has been set aside in GoArch for Holy Week at least, in favour of a very awkward service book which succeeds neither as a literal or as a vernacular translation, seems like a very great waste of resources.
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2018, 06:52:35 PM »
By the way, I do understand the reason for vernacular translations, and the impending need for  aforesaid material; ecclesiastical English is becoming less accessible to younger generations, which is a great tragedy.  My objection is simply to the particular wording of the GoArch translation of the Holy Week services, which comes across as awkward and ungainly, and which is objectively not that much of an improvement over the ecclesiastical English of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and Mother Mary as far as accessibility and ease of comprehension is concerned, owing to the use not only of words like “slain” as opposed to “killed,” but exceedingly obscure words such as “bestir.”

Regarding the paragraph in question, I feel like the vernacular translation of the late and dearly missed Archimandrite Ephrem Lash (Memory Eternal) was much more successful:

“Behold, the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant whom he finds watching; but unworthy is the one whom he finds slothful. Take care then, my soul, not to be overcome with sleep, lest you be given up to death, and be shut out of the kingdom; but rouse yourself and cry: Holy, holy, holy are you, O God; through the protection of Bodiless Powers, have mercy on us.” 

It is not much more accessible than the new GoArch translation, but it does at least posess a poetic beauty which is on a par with that of Metropolitan Kallistos and Mother Mary, and which is sadly lacking in the new GoArch book.
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline Alpha60

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2018, 07:26:49 PM »
One final note: none of this criticism is intended to in any way demean or disparage the translator of the work, the extremely pious and distinguished Archimandrite Dr. Leonidas C. Contas.   I have the highest possible regard for Archimandrite Leonidas as a scholar and as a monastic. 

My objections to the new translation he produced relate purely to the literary style; my sincere hope is that at some point in the future the new translation is edited to remove some of the awkward wording.  One aspect of the new translation is very abundantly clear, and that is that Archimandrite Leonidas had reverence at the forefront of his mind; the vast majority of the Holy Week service book is beautifully phrased and well written, and it is just a few passages such as those I mentioned which come across as awkward and ungainly.  Simply changing “Now and ever, and forever and ever” into something less redundant and more sonorous would have a tremendous impact on the work, and if well-executed, such a change could let us easily overlook more theoretical details such as the use of the word “bestir.” *    However, the new translation is clearly composed with great reverence and without any obvious and subversive political agenda; it is nothing like the revisions to Protestant hymnals made in recent years, or the Novus Ordo Missae, or the 1979 ECUSA Book of Common Prayer, even, from what I hear, “the Teal Horror” service book which was inflicted upon the Ruthenian Greek Catholics in North America.  It is a reverent and faithful work which does not at any point come across as departing from Holy Tradition.

That being said, I do feel it was a waste for the Triodion to be translated yet again, given the excellent and fully rubricated translation by the late Archimandrite Ephrem Lash, which, like the new GoArch translation, includes the entirety of the texts used in the service, not just the proper hymns in the Triodion of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (which by itself, does not have all the material one needs to follow the service; one also needs an Horologion, an Evangelion, a Psalter, a Typikon and probably one or two other books; the beauty of integrated works like those of Archimandrite Leonidas and the late Archimandrite Ephrem of blessed memory is that they contain all the required text and rubrics in an easy to use format).

In conclusion: if you do happen to visit a Greek Orthodox parish this week, and they have copies id the new service book Holy Week and Easter for sale, I would heartily recommend purchasing one.   For $25 it is an extremely good value for money, and as I said in my initial post, the book is beautifully bound, rubricated and easy to follow. 

And it features the complete text for all of the services from Holy Monday Bridegroom Matins through to Agape Vespers on Easter Sunday, as presently celebrated according to the GoArch typikon, for which one would otherwise need a Triodion, a Pentecostarion, a Prophetologion, an Epistle book, a Gospel book, a Typikon, a Psalter and an Horologion, or an anthology such as the massive Orthodox Prayer Book by Fr. Seraphim Nasser of eternal memory (an ancient volume weighing five pounds, printed in the 1940s and 50s under the imprimatur of the esteemed Metropolitan Anthony Bashir, memory eternal, the Antiochian Metropolitan in North America who preceded Metropolitan Philip Saliba of blessed memory; this is a very useful book to have due to the vast array of services it contains, but is sadly long out of print, and copies of it are both expensive and fragile due to age, and very awkward to carry around, and what is more, that work is arranged as an anthology with different chapters containing a Triodion, a Pentecostarion, a Menaion, and so forth, so one still would have to have a typikon to put it all together; in short, it would not be a user friendly way to follow the service, by any means).   As an added plus, the new Holy Week And Easter service book by Metropolitan Leonidas features the original Greek side by side with the English translation, which would make it very useful for those who speak or are studying Greek.

Sadly the service books arranged by Archimandrite Ephrem are not, as far as I am aware, in print; they exist only on the Internet Archive, which archived his personal website before he reposed in 2016.  I believe he released them into the public domain, so someone should collect all of them at some point while they are still available, as they included such interesting features as a translation of the Divine Liturgy of St. James optimized for parish use (unlike many of the academic texts floating about).  The URL for these wonderful texts is here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20150208213629/http://anastasis.org.uk:80/index.html

As far as a truly accessible vernacular text is concerned, the best I have found among Orthodox books is “Praying in the Orthodox Tradition,” a very unusual prayer book comprised of prayers taken from the manuscripts of ancient Euchologia, with a forward by Metropolitan Kallistos.  I cannot recall the name of the editor.

* I myself have to confess I have never used the word “Bestir.”
« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 07:35:15 PM by Alpha60 »
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Online Antonis

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2018, 10:21:47 PM »
Ugh, Narthex Press.  :P

One final note: none of this criticism is intended to in any way demean or disparage the translator of the work, the extremely pious and distinguished Archimandrite Dr. Leonidas C. Contas.   I have the highest possible regard for Archimandrite Leonidas as a scholar and as a monastic. 
You sound very familiar with the late Fr. Leonidas Contos! I, too, have heard that his monasticism was of exceptional caliber, given he was married and had a child, receiving the offikion of Archimandrite later in life and, I believe, (as was once common in the GOA) without tonsure.  ;)
« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 10:23:50 PM by Antonis »
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Offline LBK

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2018, 10:33:12 PM »
The title Archimandrite is often given to widowed Greek priests who have served for many years. It is a courtesy title, nothing more, and there is no requirement for the widower priest to enter a monastery.

Just sayin'.  :)
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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2018, 10:49:30 PM »
The title Archimandrite is often given to widowed Greek priests who have served for many years. It is a courtesy title, nothing more, and there is no requirement for the widower priest to enter a monastery.

Just sayin'.  :)
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I thought he had, a few posts ago.

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Offline Justin Kolodziej

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2018, 01:32:49 AM »
Not so sure Met. Alexios is having it down here. We're still using the Patmos Press books by Fr. George Papadeas of blessed memory, with whatever our priest and deacon prefer for all the litanies and other things they learned to say differently. In fact, we hear two translations of that same Bridegroom troparion because the chanter sings what's in the book and the priest sings what he learned in English. It doesn't matter -- it has me in tears.

Actually, if we did switch, it would probably be to the Digital Chant Stand translations of Fr. Seraphim Dedes instead.
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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2018, 08:51:26 AM »
Yea, the “new” translation Alpha is citing isn’t actually new, although it may be his first time seeing it. It’s been around for some time, and the prevailing usage in Greek parishes is the Papadeas.
How has Antonis not become an Old Calendarist yet?
I thought he had, a few posts ago.

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Offline CarolS

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2018, 10:26:56 AM »
It's a difficult proposition to produce a good translation that is elegant and poetic, yet accurate to the original. Careful editing is helpful, but sometimes translation by committee produces a dumbed-down result.  It seems however, that a better choice to "bestir" could have been used in this particular example.

I have 2 copies of the Papadeas Holy Week book that I would be glad to mail to anyone in the USA who wants them, since my parish doesn't use them anymore.  In Fair condition, a bit water spotted on the edges of the pages.  (How is it always raining on Holy Friday?)  casurgant "at" sbcglobal.net

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2018, 12:00:07 PM »
I know the GOArch published new official translations of the liturgies of Sts John Chrysostom and Basil; are they planning to publish other service texts in line with them?
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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2018, 12:04:06 PM »
I know the GOArch published new official translations of the liturgies of Sts John Chrysostom and Basil; are they planning to publish other service texts in line with them?

GOARCH has only published a new official text for St. John Chrysostom's Liturgy.  There is no "official" text for the other liturgies, for Holy Week, or really almost anything else.

(We have an official Creed, Lord's Prayer, Christ is Risen, Funeral for a Priest... but since we don't have a publications office or an official translation service, we don't have the kinds of standardized and synodally approved texts that others have.  Major oversight, and source of frustration, on our part.)
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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2018, 12:07:28 PM »
Ah, okay. So Holy Cross seminary press would not be considered an official publisher for the GOArch as a whole?
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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2018, 12:58:14 PM »
Ah, okay. So Holy Cross seminary press would not be considered an official publisher for the GOArch as a whole?

Not necessarily.  Producer of some of the "most common" versions, yes, but with the exception of the things I listed, not necessarily "official."  Good example of "not" is their defunct Holy Week book; I'm one of just a handful of people I know who have it.
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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2018, 07:01:38 PM »
Yea, the “new” translation Alpha is citing isn’t actually new, although it may be his first time seeing it. It’s been around for some time, and the prevailing usage in Greek parishes is the Papadeas.

Ah, well that’s a huge relief.  I assumed incorrectly that this was the new standard English translation GoArch intended to compel its paeishes to use, that we read about last year (where, among other things, provision was being made for adapting the hymnals with the music of Tikey Zes, Michaelides etc. as well as the ancient Byzantine chant to use it).   Frankly, this translation by Archimandrite Leonidas (memory eternal) not very good, and is the sort of subpar that ought to be phased out.

The book however is very useful and a good buy.

By the way, I’ve heard of widowed priests becoming bishops in exceptionally rare circumstances, so a widowed priest becoming an archimandrite really does not bother me (except to the very hypothetical extent that in theory Archimandrite originally, correct me if I’m wrong, was a title given to particularly distinguished abbots of monasteries, but it seems to have sort of evolved to mean a monastic Protopresbyter).
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline Alpha60

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2018, 07:02:52 PM »
I know the GOArch published new official translations of the liturgies of Sts John Chrysostom and Basil; are they planning to publish other service texts in line with them?

GOARCH has only published a new official text for St. John Chrysostom's Liturgy.  There is no "official" text for the other liturgies, for Holy Week, or really almost anything else.

(We have an official Creed, Lord's Prayer, Christ is Risen, Funeral for a Priest... but since we don't have a publications office or an official translation service, we don't have the kinds of standardized and synodally approved texts that others have.  Major oversight, and source of frustration, on our part.)

Ah, thank you for clarifying that.
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline Alpha60

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2018, 07:05:26 PM »
I know the GOArch published new official translations of the liturgies of Sts John Chrysostom and Basil; are they planning to publish other service texts in line with them?

GOARCH has only published a new official text for St. John Chrysostom's Liturgy.  There is no "official" text for the other liturgies, for Holy Week, or really almost anything else.

(We have an official Creed, Lord's Prayer, Christ is Risen, Funeral for a Priest... but since we don't have a publications office or an official translation service, we don't have the kinds of standardized and synodally approved texts that others have.  Major oversight, and source of frustration, on our part.)

So, by the way, following on your comment, that seems to imply one could use a traditional language version of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil or the Presanctified on those days when the typikon calls for it to be served? 
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2018, 04:34:11 PM »
Well, it turns out Fr. Ephrem Lash's Holy Week services are in print:

https://www.newromepress.com/products/great-and-holy-week
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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2018, 11:19:41 AM »
Well, it turns out Fr. Ephrem Lash's Holy Week services are in print:

https://www.newromepress.com/products/great-and-holy-week

"Paschal Canon adapted to traditional melodies by EIKONA." Quite the oxymoron there. ;D
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Re: Unto the Ages of Ages / New GoArch translation
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2018, 12:29:01 PM »
Yeah I’m not knowledgeable on Byzantine chant but Eikona sounds poppy and cringey.
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