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!