Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On modern languages and Syriac in the Assyrian Church

I found this article, entitled "Modern Assyrian Hymns: The Introduction of the Vernacular in the Liturgical Services of the Church of the East," to be quite intriguing. The music and poetry of the Church is built in such a way that it fits hand-in-glove with the language it's written in. Playing on words, matching musical notation to phrases, etc. is hard to translate into another language. Every jurisdiction has its beloved music and some clunkers in English. Phrases in English get squished into the musical notation written for another language, things get moved around and don't make as much sense, and all other sorts of problems doggedly follow the musical translator. What's more, the first or second attempt which tried to make the transition gets seen to be the way to sing the song in English so that later improvements are maligned as playing with a sacred and time-honored bit of hymnography. No Church is immune and no two jurisdictions handle it the same way. Enjoy this bit of scholarly discussion on the topic.

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