?s re Melkite parish/Divine Liturgy I attended

Hi everyone,
Yesterday I went to my first Divine Liturgy at a Melkite parish and have a couple of questions that maybe you could help me with.

  1. How common are head coverings for women in Melkite churches? For some reason I was under the impression that this was more of a Slavic custom (please correct me if I’m wrong). The parish I was at had about a 50/50 split between women with head coverings and those without.
  2. Is there an online source for the translation of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by +Archbishop Raya? I looked at the new translation online before going to Divine Liturgy but noticed some slight differences between it and the Liturgy I attended and was wondering if the church I went to is using the old translation or some combination of the two.


When I was in a Cathedral in Greece women and men were seated apart. Needless to say, headcoverings were very popular there, so it isn’t exclusively slavic.

Besides, the Melkite Church finds its origins in Syria. Headcoverings are not strange in Syria.

Well, yes, but only to a point. The idea of a woman veiling in church is certainly not even remotely the same as wearing a hijab (or the 'abaye or a chador or a burka…). One has to keep in mind that Christians are Christians.

No, I know that, but scarves are used there. I don’t advocate going to church in a burka :smiley:

OK, but the point is that Christians in Syria do not observe the dress code of another (in this case, majority) religion. IOW, ladies may wear a head covering in church, but those who do do not do so because of any societal dress codes imposed by those who adhere to a false religion. (And BTW, the hijab is really a scarf.)

Headscarves were used in that region long before Islam.

Yes, I’m quite well aware of that. It was common dress. The Holy Virgin herself is often depicted with one. But notice the tense of the verb: it was common dress. That is no longer (and has not been for quite some time) true for the Christian (or, for that matter, Jewish) population in the region.

In my own parish probably about 1/4 of the women wear head coverings, the rest don’t. Most of the women who wear the veils/scarves in my parish are “transfers” from the Roman/Latin Church. I’m not trying to imply that such a practice is a “Latinization” among the Melkites, only that in my parish it’s more common among former Romans.

I’ve never seen an online version of the Raya translation of the DL, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just keep digging. Not all parishes will use the “official” translation of the DL. My own parish uses a somewhat modified version of the Raya translation. I guess essentially the “new” translation of the DL is a modified version of the Raya translation, we’ve just modified it in different ways. :stuck_out_tongue: Perhaps the parish you attended did something similar, which would explain the “feel” that the translation they used was a combination of the Raya and the newer Melkite translation.

Thank you everyone for your replies!

Interesting about the head coverings. I apologize for the poor phrasing of the question. I guess I was mainly wondering what the common practice would be today, particularly in the U.S., among women in Melkite parishes. But despite my clumsiness you all answered that already :D. I guess it just depends on the particular parish, if I’m understanding your replies correctly. I was curious about it because as I was leaving the church I saw a box of veils in the corner with a sign saying to feel free to take one. I’d only ever seen that at TLM Mass. Worlds were colliding for me for a moment :D.

@ PhillipRolfes: I see… so the current translation is more of a modification of the previous translation than it is a new translation. Then, would it be correct to say that the current translation hasn’t been mandated, but is optional for parishes to adopt? (I apologize if ‘mandated’ and ‘optional’ aren’t the best words to use). Or is the current translation to be implemented by a particular date?


Yes indeed. The current translation is more of a modification of the previous translation(s), as was noted in the introduction to the new translation.

The question of whether or not that translation is “mandated” is somewhat complicated. Technically yes, the new translation is mandated for use in all parishes throughout all English-speaking Melkite eparchies (so not just in the U.S., but throughout Canada, Australia, the U.S., etc.). That being said, however, it is somewhat “traditional” for parishes to sort of do their own thing as far as selecting the translations of their liturgical books - with the bishop’s knowledge of course. “Official” translations are, in a way, more of a convenience for parishes than an obligation. For example, technically the Eparchy of Newton has an official translation of the twelve volume Menaion (the cycle of monthly feasts). But my own parish uses the translation put out by the non-canonical Orthodox monastery, Holy Transfiguration. We do this primarily because the text is metered according to the Byzantine “model” hymns (aka the automelia), but also because the translation itself is a lovely and very poetic translation.

So I’m not sure how “obligatory” the new translation of the DL is on all parishes. When our bishop visited my own parish recently, he seemed fine with the translation that we use, as evidenced by the fact that nothing has changed in the parish. :stuck_out_tongue:

At Holy Virgin Cathedral (ROCOR) a couple blocks from our parish they have a drawer with scarves to borrow, and a drawer with skirts to borrow. Both are labeled (“Scarves”, “Skirts”) which I think may be the only English is the place. :wink: I’ve borrowed from both drawers occasionally when I’ve unexpectedly had time to run in for a minute to venerate St John’s relics.

The letter from His Beatitude Patriarch Maximos V in the Fr Raya, Baron deVinck Translation has several comments worth noting:

…It is with great joy that we recommend your new work BYZANTINE DAILY WORSHIP. As head of the Melkite-Greek-Catholic Church and Rite all over the world, we order this translation to be the only one used in our English-speaking churches
… We praise it also because you deleted from it all elements foreign to the Byzantine Rite.

In the spirit of Ecumenism promoted by the recent Council, you have restored to honor among our people the terms Orthodox and Orthodoxy, thus sharing with our brethren of the Orthodox Churches the fullness of the True Doctrine…"

At quick glance the Raya translation seems very like the OCA version we use, closer at least than translations the local Greek Orthodox use, which seem similar to what the local ROCOR uses when using any English, which neither does much of.

Hi 5Loaves. Thanks for sharing the info from the BDW. I was actually just reading Patriarch Maximos’ introduction to it the other day. Interestingly, in his intro or preface to the new translation of the DL Archbishop Cyril Boustros officially “suppressed” all other translations in use within the Eparchy of Newton. That being said, it doesn’t seem that our current bishop is too keen on enforcing such a suppression. Either the use of different translations doesn’t bother him, or he prefers the Raya translation, or he simply has more important things to concern himself with. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve never had a really good look at the OCA translations of the DL in order to compare them to the Raya translation. I have seen that there are a few different OCA translations, though, and that no one of them is really considered to be the “official” translation. The same goes for the Antiochians. It seems that in the East a healthy amount of variation is encouraged, or at the very least tolerated. :smiley:

The “official” translation of the Psalms among the Greek Orthodox in the U.S. is the deVinck/Costas (???) translation; the same used by the Melkites in a slightly revised form. But again, healthy variation exists.

I don’t think there is any single OCA translation. The clergy in my parish use the service book from SVS Press for Divine Liturgy and for other services which seems to be the translation used in the particular OCA parish I also attend for various services.

At the beginning of a gathering when we open with the prayer used to begin all such gatherings of orthodox/Orthodox Christians “O Heavenly King…” if ROCOR, OCA, Antiochians etc. are present we hear the variations here and there being uttered. I do not think the variation is encouraged, unless by that you mean that no one is willing to change their translation, so we are all encouraged to pray our own varied words. :slight_smile: I definitely hear expressed by some the sense that praying this prayer with these variations is a somewhat distressing show of the lack of unity. Unfortunately I haven’t recently been in a gathering of Melkites, Ruthenians, Ukranians, etc. tho I do hope to be in one at the Encounter 2012 of the Eastern Catholic Churches of the U.S.A. and Canada - “Together in Christ” this fall, but I imagine a similar variation of certain words would crop up there also when praying this and other prayers.

I also think the letter from (Orthodox) Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I is quite extraordinary on many levels. He opens with:

Sailing through the sea of life surrounded by our Hierarchy, our holy Clergy and the flock of Christians both near and far, under conditions ordained by God’s will, we have experienced great spiritual joy on receipt of the text entitled BYZANTINE DAILY WORSHIP from Your Reverence so much beloved by Us…
…These same sentiments have placed Your Reverence in the noble and respected camp of those who participate in the work of the Church as it strives toward the promotion of the oneness of Christians…

“Toward this purpose, the love of Christ…” he calls down the blessing of God on the work of Bishop Raya and upon the publication BDW. I would do well to think of this phrase “the flock of Christians both near and far, under conditions ordained by God’s will” often when considering our often painful separations as Churches no longer, and not yet, in Communion. In what way “under conditions ordained by God’s will” may we sing the praise “Glory to God for all things” as St John Chrysostom did in his own exile?

The current translation is more of a modification of the previous translation(s), as was noted in the introduction to the new translation.

I need to re-read it closer :blush:.

Thanks for the clarification regarding the different translations that may be used.:slight_smile: Coming from a Latin-rite parish I suppose I assumed that the new translation was eparchy-wide, like the new translation of the Mass for the Latin rite in English-speaking countries.

Perhaps the current bishop’s toleration of the different translations (and the toleration or perhaps encouragement of different translations in other Eastern churches) comes from an acknowledgement that different translations can diverge at points and still be faithful to the original text? One could translate a text with the goal of remaining as faithful as possible to the syntax, sentence structure, etc. of the original, while another may have the goal of conveying the meaning of the original as faithfully as possible. While you probably want to do both, it may not be possible; I remember translating poetry in college from Spanish to English where you almost had to decide on one style of translation or the other. Being a newcomer to the DL, I have to say that I like the idea of different translations (my 2 cents-worth, if it’s even worth that :D).

I would do well to think of this phrase “the flock of Christians both near and far, under conditions ordained by God’s will” often when considering our often painful separations as Churches no longer, and not yet, in Communion.

Hi 5Loaves:wave: Those certainly are interesting words by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I. As far as the above quote, I rather like the idea that on any given Sunday, an Orthodox parish may be singing the same words as an Eastern Catholic parish down the street using the same translation. :slight_smile:


May we ask which Melkite church you attended?


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