Saturday, December 11, 2010

Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity

Fr. Andrew recently posted this video via Facebook with the invitation to hear it in English on Christmas Eve in Emmaus. I kind of like the Arabic.

It calls to mind an old doorway... one in which the Ancient Faith entered my heart. Listening to this just now, I recall worshipping at St. George before I knew much of anything about Orthodoxy -- the days in which I was praying that God would not allow me to be seduced by pretty vestments, bold icons and sweet smelling incense. I remember hearing the Arabic chanting, not understanding a single word, and being so moved by it. So connected to the roots of Christianity and feeling secure there. Just how is it that foreign words can move the heart? A mystery of God.

I sometimes hear in Orthodox circles -mostly among converts, but not always- that the service should be entirely in English, since everyone speaks English but only a portion speak Arabic. I disagree. I think we would lose something vital by silencing this ancient language in our worship. It’s good to hear the praise of God in other languages as it reminds our senses that God is God of all, not just English speaking people. Let our ears hear the worship of God and His Incarnation in Arabic and multitudes of other languages this Christmas!


elizabeth said...

I agree; there is something wonderful in keeping languages...

God is so good to have brought us to the Orthodox church!

bokmalin said...

I have a CD here at home with songs of christian worship from Afghanistan. Not only does it remind me of all the believers who cannot worship openly, at the risk of losing their lives, but also of the promise that all peoples of the Earth will praise God. Sometimes it seems to me that arabic is a kidnapped language. You hear so much hate expressed in arabic these days. But all languages were intended to praise God.

BTW: Have you seen this?

Fr. Andrew said...

You seem to assume I have someone at my parish who could chant this in Arabic. :)

Anyway, the "language question" doesn't happen to be an issue for us, but it always seems to be one at any parish which uses more than one language with any frequency. And I think it's an unsolvable debate until the last person who can sing in the "other" language (whichever it is) dies or leaves.

Me, I think I should use whatever is needed to minister to the people inside my walls and right outside them. Besides English, I can do a bit of Greek, Arabic, Church Slavonic, and Romanian. Maybe someday I'll tackle Georgian, if I find myself all out of vowels.


amy said...


Thank you, no, I had not seen the video you posted. I enjoyed it! thanks for sharing.

Fr. A,
You forgot Old English! ; ' )

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