I was made aware of the new Hieratikon being published by St. Tikhon's Monastery Press shortly before it's release and quickly bought a copy. Hierodeacon Herman (Majkrzak) - a coeditor of the text - was kind enough to answer some questions about this new work in the interview below.
The volume also contains a detailed order of censing patterns, Magnifications and Matins Prokimena for feast days, Dismissals, and a monthly calendar for use at the Dismissal, complete with the signs from the Slavonic Typikon that indicate the ranks of feasts, along with a key.
What prompted the publication of a new Hieratikon for the OCA? What texts were previously in use?
The publication of the new book answers a demand long heard from many quarters of the OCA for a service book whose translation corresponds to the 1967 Liturgy text, is easy to navigate, and is compact and convenient to use.
St. Tikhon’s published a Priest’s Service Book of very similar scope about fifteen years ago, and though it contained a wealth of material, it was not well-received. Additionally, Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory, the long-time and greatly-beloved Archbishop of Dallas and the Diocese of the South, prepared his own complete translation of the Slavonic sluzhebnik (i.e., hieratikon), which was originally published in two volumes, but was revised and reprinted in one volume in 2003. This was a very serious work of translation and is highly respected, but is now out of print. It was the only complete hieratikon ever produced within the OCA, but it has never been universally used, in part because its translations do not correspond to the well-known Liturgy Book of 1967, a translation kept in print by St. Tikhon’s up to the present day.
Both it and the former St. Tikhon’s volume have one thing in common: they are bulky and difficult to fit into a cassock pocket while serving. This can be a major inconvenience, and for this reason many clergy continued to use the paperback, typewritten volumes produced long ago by Fr. Igor Soroka. His pioneering efforts at producing convenient service books in English have served the Church well for decades, and it is an honor to build upon the foundation he established. So, our new book is pocket-sized: it is even smaller than the 1967 Liturgy Book.
Can you speak more about the idea of "navigation?"
In my opinion, one of the most valuable features of this Hieratikon is how it lays out each service – Vespers, Matins, etc. – in all of its various forms. This book will tell you how to serve Great Vespers, as opposed to Daily Vespers, or Vespers during Lent. It has a separate sections for Vespers at an All-night Vigil, and Paschal Vespers during Bright Week. We took the same approach for the other services – Matins, the Hours, etc. This makes the book straightforward in its use. We took our cue in this approach from the Liturgikon, a publication of the Antiochian Archdiocese compiled by His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita. As noted in the preface, that book was our model on several levels, though there are many differences too, since our book is intended for use in the Russian liturgical tradition.
How does this compare to the other editions of the hieratikon you mentioned?
Some have noted that both the old St. Tikhon’s book and Archbishop Dmitri’s book can be difficult to navigate. Vladyka Dmitri’s book is essentially a translation of the Slavonic Sluzhebnik, which is valuable in its own right, but it means that the text of the rubrics, and the way orders of services are presented have undergone little change in centuries, and they assume a degree of familiarity with modern liturgical practice that’s often difficult to attain in America away from a monastery or cathedral setting. So sometimes you’ll hear clergy joke about service books that, unhelpfully, tell the deacon to “go to his usual place and say his usual prayer”!
Our new Hieratikon, while of course not changing the received order of service or the liturgical texts themselves, attempts to recast the presentation of information in a such a way that clergy with moderate liturgical training can pick up the book and lead even somewhat obscure or complex services without difficulty or confusion. Of course, I’m not saying that with our book they can, sight unseen, serve flawlessly; no, a priest or deacon should look over any unfamiliar service at home first, but he will find that the book tells him everything he needs to do, in the order he needs to do it in. Now, of course, there are always local practices, abbreviations, and such, and no book should try to account for all of those – that would be impossible and pointless.
In a very few instances we do note common abbreviations, but still give all the necessary text to serve the office completely. Generally, though, our approach has been that a priest cannot understand how to abbreviate a service intelligently unless he knows what the entire order is meant to look like. This book will give him the full picture. From there it is necessary to make adjustments for local practice.
What principles were used for choosing or editing the translations?
I would say the key word to describe our approach to translations of the liturgical texts themselves is continuity. We did not want this book to represent a rupture from previous texts. This doesn’t mean that we made no changes, but we tried to keep them minimal. Here’s an example: the texts of the litanies corresponds 98% to those first published in the 1967 Liturgy Book and used in many other publications of the OCA, such as OCPC, SVS Press, or STM Press. But in the evening (or morning) litany, we changed the last petition to end simply, “Let us ask,” instead of “Let us ask of the Lord.” This reflects the Greek and Slavonic, and many other well-respected English translations. The distinction here is that this petition has already referred to the Lord: “a good defense before the dread Judgment Seat of Christ…” To go on from that point and say, “…let us ask of the Lord,” suggests that “Christ” and “the Lord,” are not one and the same. So there’s one example of a small change, but that actually represents a greater continuity with most other English translations and of course with the original languages.
We also changed one word in the great litany: “For this city, for every city and countryside, and for the faithful dwelling in them…” “Countryside,” had been simply “country,” but when you say, “city and country,” you get the idea of political entities: cities and nations, rather than geographical locales: cities and rural areas. But even when making this change we still strove for continuity, even if cross-jurisdictionally: “countryside” is the word used in the Antiochian Liturgikon. So we borrowed it.
In fact, we borrowed (with permission) even more: all the texts of the priestly prayers at Vespers and Matins are from the Liturgikon. Many different versions of these prayers have been used in the OCA, but none of them had universal acceptance. The texts in the Liturgikon, however, also have a history within the OCA and the Metropolia, because they derive originally from Isabel Hapgood’s Service Book, which is a common root of many texts used in the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese alike. So the Hieratikon editors wanted to take the opportunity to increase commonality across two of the jurisdictions that use English as their primary liturgical language. These texts were carefully edited by Dr. Permiakov, and all the changes were sent for approval to the editors of the forthcoming fourth edition of the Liturgikon, so that the two books will be in sync.
We also borrowed (again, with permission), many of the Psalm texts from the beautiful and relatively new Psalter for Prayer from Holy Trinity Publications, Jordanville. In the absence of one recognized text of the Septuagint or Liturgical Psalms for use in the OCA, we went with the Jordanville text because, again, it meshes well with our value of continuity: it’s a new translation from the Septuagint, but it relies very heavily on one of the oldest and most beautiful of English Psalters, that of Miles Coverdale. Now, as is mentioned in the preface, we retained the usual OCA wording for the refrains of prokimena, which deacon and choir must sing back and forth. Since most choirs already have musical settings for these, it is easier to make the deacon’s book conform to what the choir will use than vice versa. Thus we did introduce some inconsistency where Psalm texts are concerned, and we have already received some criticism for this. However the inconsistency, if not ideal, was intentional – indeed, we followed the same practice in the 2012 Small Book of Needs – and it is meant to make the book more useful.
There are a few other changes that may jump out at some readers: “The Lord is God…” (instead of “God is the Lord”); “Blessed be He Who Is, Christ our God…” (instead of “the Existing One,”), and “O Lord and Master of my life, give me not…” (instead of “take from me”) in the Prayer of St. Ephraim. All of these examples were places where the Hieratikon adopted the usage settled on by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) in his Festal Menaion and Lenten Triodion (kept in print by St. Tikhon’s). But there isn’t enough time here to go into the reasons behind these changes. Dr. Permiakov and I plan to write a separate article discussing these matters.
What can you tell us about the artistic quality of the book’s design?
Well, this was an important element for us from the outset. We wanted to prepare a book that was not only practical but also beautiful, a book worthy of the sacred texts it contains, both in the materials used for its production – the leather cover, the gilding on the page edges, the high quality paper and ink – and also in the actual typographic design, incorporating carefully chosen fonts, proportions, classical conventions such as drop caps and small caps, ligatures, kerning, etc. I go into a lot more detail on this subject in a two-part article available on the Orthodox Arts Journal, but I do want to mention here how grateful Dr. Permiakov and I are, along with everyone at the Press, to Andrew Gould and Scott Patrick O’Rourke of New World Byzantine Studios for their having supplied us with dozens of beautiful illustrations that brighten the pages of our book, and especially for Mr. O’Rourke’s Cross which graces both the front cover and the frontispiece.
Would this book be of value to clergy outside the OCA?
Oh, absolutely. We live in a pan-Orthodox ecclesiastical context here in America, and it’s important for the reverend clergy to have resources available where they can learn the uses of other jurisdictions. And even for clergy who already serve in the Russian tradition but who use different translations, I think many will find this book a very useful reference because of its comprehensiveness and order, as I discussed earlier.
The book was really a pan-Orthodox effort. I’ve already discussed our close connection with and use of texts from the Antiochian Liturgikon and the Psalter published by Jordanville. Dr. Permiakov, my co-editor, teaches at the ROCOR’s Seminary in Jordanville, and I teach at one of the OCA’s seminaries, St. Vladimir’s in Yonkers. Mr. O’Rourke, who drew our fine frontispiece and three other icons in the book, is a GOA seminarian at Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline. We see such collaborations across institutions and jurisdictions as essential for the future of the Church in America, not just liturgically, but in all aspects of her life.
Now that you’ve seen the published book, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Every book I’ve worked on has been a learning experience. There are just some thing you can’t plan or understand until you’ve seen the finished product. So, yes, there are some design elements I now wish I had done slightly differently, and also some rubrics I only now see how I could have worded more clearly, but these are small details. On the whole I am very pleased. I will mention, though, for the benefit of anyone who purchases the book, that there is an error on two pages. It’s the same error on both pages 186 and 242: the Augmented Litany currently begins:
“Let us complete our evening prayer unto the Lord.”
But it should say:
“Let us say with all our soul and with all our mind, let us say.”
This was an unfortunate copy-and-paste error, and we apologize to our readers for the inconvenience. The Press will produce an errata sheet to be included with future sales.
Does STM Press have any future liturgical projects planned?
We certainly do! I’ve already mentioned that we hope to produce a companion volume containing the three Divine Liturgies. There’s also a very great need for a Horologion, but that will require first some careful attention paid to the Psalter (actually, this is already a work progress in collaboration with SVS Press — stay tuned!) Further down the road we may see a revision of the 4-volume Great Book of Needs — Dr. Permiakov and I already began some of that work a couple years ago with the revised Small Book of Needs (2012). There is much work to do! We ask everyone’s prayers that we may continue the work we have begun with God’s blessing.
Thank you, Fr. Herman, for the gift of your time and insights. I've enjoyed it greatly.
I really appreciate this opportunity to help your readers learn more about this new offering. Merry Christmas!