Need to celebrate Holy Eucharist in English

Need to celebrate of Holy Eucharist in English.

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P. Abraham Paul.                                                      Date: 12 April 2002.

Introduction: Eastern Orthodox liturgy we have got from our saintly spiritual forefathers and passed on through generations is the richest among the World Christian faith orders. The need of the day is to adapt ourselves to the fast changing social environment. I do not mean that we should deviate in any way from the liturgy or do away with different vernacular form of it.

What we need is some amount of compromise in our ardent love for participation in the celebration of Holy Qurbano in vernacular everywhere; in the wider interest of our future generation who are being brought up with no knowledge of the mother tongue, rather we have deliberately changed their mother tongue as English due to compulsion of circumstances they are being brought up. It is a fact that, even many grown ups nowadays do not have enough working knowledge or proficiency in the vernacular to fully understand the liturgy in their parents mother tongue is it not worthwhile to ponder whether it is not useful to  celebrate Holy Qurbano in a language that children also can understand and follow its substance in depth. 

Manglish substitutes we use are of some help, but not enough to follow and understand the full meaning of the prayers and hymns in our liturgy. Fact is that many who do not have opportunity to learn Malayalam are simply reciting it without knowing its meaning.

1. There is always this argument by many that those who do not know Malayalam should learn the English version to know the meaning of what they recite in Malayalam, but then will it ensure their real involvement. While the full mental involvement off many of us during Malayalam Qurbano which most of us know by heart being questionable, just imagine how if it is in some language which we do not understand. This is perhaps, one of the reasons for many of our adolescent children, even grown ups get attracted to other forms of Christian worship that give them the feeling more involvement and participation.

Most of churches take care to provide Holy Qurbano texts with transcripts in ‘Manglish’ (English made readable in Malayalam) and some do have English and Syriac version of the prayers also. Nevertheless, it will be prudent to consider celebrating the Holy Eucharist also fully in English, at least once a month or so. Most of our worship hymns in English could be sung in the same tune in its Malayalam version. Choir can prepare and provide CDs for the laity to learn and follow these. The script can be displayed in LED screens as being done in many churches.

English version of the Holy Qurbano are now available for purchase from Churches authorised book stalls. For those who want to learn the tunes, some of the hymns are available in You tube and the missing ones could be added there.

2. To site an example For example, the prayer song  Üdayon Arul Cheythu En mey Rakthangal” contains the entire philosophy and essence of Christian faith as told to us by none other than Jesus Christ himself.

It is worthy to make children learn the song in the language they are proficient, in context of relevant verses from H. Bible, and teaching them to sing it, which according to me will be more useful to them than the lengthy sermons in Malayalam that most children do not follow or understand. To begin with, it will be worth while to sing the English version of the above song intermittently with the Malayalam version.  Try it and see whether children appreciate it or not.

The Hymn  in the Syriac version of and its translation in English are given below.

The first three stanzas the entire philosophy of Orthodox Christian faith in nut shell.

Note: Different versions of the hymn is available in in the following link:

kul man dokhel fagray. w-shothé dem Hayo.
emar forooqan. beh oo m-qawé eno.
d-noseb b-dakhyootho. of b-haymonootho.
w-noTar fooqdoney. hooyoo roHmo deel.

“All who eat My Body and drink My living Blood,”
our Savior affirmed, “I will abide in them.”
“He, who receives Me in purity and in faith,
and he, who keeps my commandments, is My friend.”

hoo fagr mekhooltaw. w-dem koso d-Haye.
wayno d-noseb leh. beh hoo m-qaw eno.
fagrokh maHyono. wadmokh m-Hasyono.
hablan forooqan. l-Hoosoy nafshothan.

“My Body is the food and My Blood the cup of life
«and» whosoever partakes; In him I will abide.”
Our Savior, «give us» for the atonement of our souls
Thy life-giving Body and Thy absolving Blood.

moran m-haymneenan. b-fagrokh d-nosbeenan.
d-beh methHaseynan. w-Hayé nTeereenlan.
fagrokh awkelthon. wadmokh ashqeethon.
lo te`ool l-deeno. `aman b-yoom Hartho.

Lord, we believe by Thy Body that we receive
we are absolved and life «is retained» for us.
Thou gave us Thy Body to eat and Thy Blood to drink;
may we not be in the judgment «on the» last day!

fagrokh dekhalnan. wadmokh deshtheenan.
lo moryo nehwoon lan. l-deenao w-lathba`tho.
lo te`ool l-deeno `am `abdé deelokh.
d-fagrokh mor wadmokh. rah-boono yabt lan*

Thy Body we ate and Thy Blood we drank,
Lord, may be not for judgment and vengeance.
Do not enter into judgment with Thy servants.
Thy Body and Blood, You’ve «given us» in earnest.

fagrokh mor wadmokh. daTmeer b-hadomayn.
leh hoo sogdeenan. d-beh Hayé yahbth lan.
dayono kheeno. d-doyen kheenoyeeth.
l-deeno lo ta`lan. w-Hawbayn lo tedkar.

Lord, Thy Body and Blood – is hidden in our limbs,
We worship Them for – through Them You gave us life.
The righteous Judge who judges – justly, bring us not                                                                    to judgment and recall not our debts.

Conclusion: It is most welcome that some congregations in Kerala and outside and many at abroad, H. Qurbono is being celebrated in English. I remember the now Cor episcopa Rev. Fr. Roy Kochat, took pains to learn and celebrate Holy Qurbano in English, once in a month in Kalina church in Mumbai in 1995. Such priests with sincerity and dedication to the purpose are real blessing to our Church.

Author: P. Abraham Paul, Karottuveettil, Kesavadasapuram, Trivandrum.

e-mail: Tweet @PA_Paul


About Abraham Paul

Vision & Objective: Telecom has always been the passion of my life. After 60 years of outstanding career and many personal contributions to the industry, I still have same urge, and desire to give back to the industry, the abundant experience, knowledge and potential acquired, by providing consultancy service to forward looking enterprises and entrepreneurs in Legacy and New generation Telecom & IT in the areas of Business Management, Technology, Engineering and Services. Apolitical and religiously unbiased.
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