Monday, December 19, 2022

Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, Getting to hope you like me.

Some years ago I was between assignments and spent my weekends serving parishes of almost every jurisdiction. As a result, my trunk was a veritable library of not only Divine Liturgy texts, but service books of all kinds, books of needs, and prayer cards for every occasion. During that time the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Eparchial Synod of the Greek Archdiocese came out with a new English translation of the Liturgy around 2016. The trusty Holy Cross version was in use along with others based on metropolis and sometimes even personal preference. As with all new translations, the new EP version sought to become the de facto (not to mention de jure) text in use across the archdiocese.

The first publication of it was not a joy to read. The text was uniform in such a way that the expected organization and formatting of a such a thing was missing. Additionally, there were several optional parts thrown in that further complicated its usage. As a result, I kept what I had and moved on. Some weeks back I noticed that there was a new, more professional version of the text out and I purchased it. Really, I noticed that Newrome Press had a hand in this version and, as I can consider that imprint to be the gold standard for Orthodox publishing, was happy to buy it. You just have to look at a page like this and feel a sense of joy.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts.
  • For some reason the Greek Archdiocese doesn't like putting kairos, vesting prayers, proskomedia, etc. in their liturgy books. It's pretty much rote for me at this point, but it's confounding to not add the 5 or 10 pages needed to cover these essential bits.
  • There is no clear demarcation between what is said aloud and what is said quietly. Sometimes there are small rubrical indications and sometimes there are not. Other texts will make use of bold, italics, and font size difference to make this obvious. It's easy to "fix" and probably one of the printing choices they made that irks me the most.
  • The older text was without any rubrics and the diaconal dialogues were missing. Serving with a deacon was often a short apology before liturgy and some printed sheets or post-it notes to add them back in. Also, if you have ever served with a deacon, you know that there is a spectrum common to this occasion. Some priests want the deacon to do everything in its fullness and others diminish his role quite a bit. A common text leaves less room for disagreement and disconformity.
  • At the same time, there is no formatting to tell you that you are talking to a deacon quietly or if you are making exclamations. It is a sad reality that few parishes have deacons and so large swaths of my new book have penned squares to remind me of this absence.
  • This publication has returned some portions to the liturgy that had been absent. They are back in orange blocks with things like the Litany of Fervent Supplication and the Prayers for the Catechumens. Welcome back, guys. I've missed you.
  • The text is not just about inserting new things. It is also about changes in translation. Some of them I quite like, some I do not (e.g. removal of armed forces from litanies), and some of them are cumbersome. Take for example:
The Lamb of God is apportioned and distributed; apportioned, but not divided; ever eaten, yet never consumed; but sanctifying those who partake.
  • Also, some rubrical instructions I find intriguing. At the ambon prayer it says to face the icon of Christ. Interestingly, many other recensions tell you specifically not to do this. One goes so far as to say "There is no reason to face the icon of Christ. The prayer is not to Christ, but the Father, so it make no sense to do so." Even other Greek texts say much the same. I can only conclude this is what they do at the Phanar, so this is what they want priests to do in the diaspora.
  • I wish they had rolled in the Liturgy of St. Basil. Some publishers add in Basilian differences at the back of their books and some do a complete printing of that liturgy in the same book. Interestingly, the section covering dismissals includes even those used when St. Basil's liturgy is called for.
All in all it is a step forward, but I am still going to have to put a pen to some sections to clarify things. With some formatting additions it could be more readable, but I certainly welcome the reintroduction of all the sections they brought back into the new standard archdiocesan text.


  1. The closest I have to the perfect English Divine Liturgy is the Hieratikon from St. TIKHON MONASTERY.