It is desirable to celebrate Holy Eucharist in English once in a while for the benefit of the New age Youth & Children.
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P. Abraham Paul.
Dated 12 April 2002.
Eastern Orthodox liturgy that we have inherited from our Saintly spiritual Fathers and passed on through generations is the richest among the World Christian faith orders.
We use its translated veursions in various dialects and languages familiar to its mass followers in each region.
1. The need of the day is to adapt ourselves to the fast changing social environment. It does not in any way mean that we should deviate from the liturgy or do away with different vernacular form of it.
While most of us here in Kerala have learned and accustomed with the Malayam version, naturally there is this ardent desire to participate in the Holy Qurbano only in Malayalam everywhere.
However, it is desirable to celebrate Holy Eucharist also in English once in a while in the wider interest of our future generation especially our new age Youth and Children many of whom are being brought up with no working knowledge of our mother tongue; intentionally or due to compulsion of the changed circumstances they happened to be in; many may not have proficiency to understand the full meaning and substance in depth of the Prayers and Hymns in Malayalam.
The fact being product of English medium of education, even many grown ups (including many of our own children and their spouses) lack proficiency in Malayalam to fully understand the liturgy and its meaning and substance in depth as their parents and forefathers did, it become necessary to ponder;
i) Being aware of it, should we not do something about it?
‘Manglish’ (Malayalam made readable in English) substitutes we use are of some help, but that does not help to understand the full meaning of the prayers and hymns in our liturgy to make our children mentally involve in it fully.
Even many grown ups these days who do not have opportunity to learn Malayalam also are simply reciting it without knowing its meaning.
ii) There is always this argument that those who do not know Malayalam should learn the English version to know and understand the meaning of what they recite in Manglish; but then will it ensure their real involvement?
2. Even while the full mental involvement of many of us while Holy Qurbano celebrated in Malayalam being questionable, it can be understood how it would be even for us if it is in a language we do not know or understand.
For example: Don’t we feel uncomfortable when we hear the Syriac version of the Holy Qurbano prayers and Hymns are said in Syriac in between by Rev. Priests, few Deacons and by church Choir but with little participation of the Laity. Then just imagine how much difficult it is for the children to learn by heart something what they do not know or understand at all.
3. To feel the difference, just observe the callous and inattentive behaviour of our children while our Rev. Vicars or others deliver serious and knowledgeable sermons in Malayalam in the church and in prayer meetings; and then watch how attentive and alert the children become when these are done in English.
This is perhaps, one of the reasons for many of our adolescent children, and even many grownups get attracted to other groups of Christian worships that give them a feeling of more involvement and participation.
(The way to ensure participation of youth and children in our Prayer meeting to allocate more time to them giving opportunity to present their own programs, something being successfully being done in many churches abroad.)
Even otherwise, with the advent of copying the Choir culture in our churches, the entire affair had slowly became something between the Holy Alter and and the Choir (and its music in high decibels) leaving the attendance of laity just a formality.
4. It is also disheartening to see that of late in many churches, the important later parts of the Holy Eucharist in four sections in hymns to be sung by laity in remembrance and prayers to Holy Mother, Holy Saints, and remembrance of Late Revered Priests and our Departed Souls (an equally important part and without it the H. Eucharist is only half done) are replaced in syriac version, done with in just two minutes; that no one in the Laity understand.
This also make the efforts of Sunday Schools and the parents teaching those beautiful KOLOS in the above said four sections to children with great difficulty especially to those who do not have knowledge in vernacular; become vain and wasted.
5. The perfect way would be that every believer of Holy Syrian Orthodox faith order to learn the Syriac like the Muslims learn Arabic. This being not very practical, it will be prudent to consider celebrating the Holy Eucharist also in English, at least once a month or so according to the need, situation and convenience of the congregations.
Now most of our churches have Holy Qurbano texts with transcripts in ‘Manglish’ (Malayalam readable in English) and some do have English and Syriac version of the prayers also.
Prayer books in English version are available now and every church can get these. It can be obtained to teach children at home and in Sunday schools. Holy Qurbano in English version are available in many TV channels and in CDs and in youtube. Children can be encouraged to watch this.
6. Most of our worship hymns in English could be sung in the same tune as in its Malayalam version. Church Choir can prepare and provide CDs for the laity to learn and follow these. Where it is possible, lyrics can be displayed in wide LED screens, as being done in some churches I had seen abroad.
The greatest advantage of this is that children once understand the meaning of the lyrics and hymns, in the language known to them, they will be also able to assimilate it while participating in celebration of Holy Eucharist also in Malayalam or any other language.
7. The English version of the hymn ‘Udayon arul cheythu’ that in itself contains the entire philosophy and essence of Christian faith in nut shell; The first three stanzas are the commands and promises of Jesus to us in the form of an everlasting covenant and the remaining stanzas are what we beseech to God.
This can be sung in English in the same tune as its Malayalam version. It is worthy to make every child learn the song in English so as to make them understand it in the language they are proficient, in context of relevant verses from Holy Bible, and teaching them to sing it, which will be equally, if not more useful than the lengthy sermons in Malayalam that most children do not follow.
To start with, we may introduce singing of the English version of the above hymn intermittently with the Malayalam version in the thanks giving and other hymns at end of H. Qurbanos.
Also some of the Diptychs could be read by young deacons in English in every Holy Qurbano. Try it and see how much the children will appreciate it and become attentive during reciting the Diptychs.
Conclusion: It is most heartening to know that some congregations in Kerala and outside and many abroad, H. Qurbono is being celebrated in English. I remember now that the then Vicar in Kalina church in Mumbai, Rev. Cor episcopa Fr. Roy Kochat, took the initiative and efforts to celebrate Holy Qurbano in English, once in a month in that church in 1995. Now this is being done in most of our churches.
With kind regards to all,
Paul P. A.
Author: P. Abraham Paul, Karottuveettil, Trivandrum.
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