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Growth and Size of the BOC/COP
27-05-2007, 10:29 PM,
Certainly many younger members of all Orthodox Churches in the West want services in languages they can understand, and many drift away from real participation in the Church because of the lack of them. In his regard, the Coptic Orthodox Church tends to be much more advanced than other Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches. There is hardly a Coptic Church in Australia that does not have an alternative Liturgy in English (usually on a Saturday) or a parallel Liturgy in English (in another place ? usually with two churches on the one site - on Sunday). Other Orthodox Churches in Australia have strongly resisted English. The largest Church, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, has rare Liturgies in English: in Sydney, there is usually one English Liturgy a month. The Armenians seem to have no Liturgies in English ever in Australia.

The problem is, essentially, that the Churches become focussed on the preservation of an ethnic culture (including language) rather than the preservation of the Orthodox Faith. There are a very few specifically English language Orthodox parishes in Australia (the only ones I know of are Antiochian and Russian Orthodox Outside Russia), but their focus is on ?Western? converts.

There remain, however, some problems with the Coptic use of English. There is, to my knowledge, no properly translated Liturgy in literate English which is used in the Coptic Church. Some of the translations are semi-literate. There is also a problem with the music of the Liturgy: if the Coptic (more accurately, Arabic, as far as most Coptic Churches are concerned) music is applied to an English translation, the English can be all but unintelligible. This is less a problem with some Orthodox traditions (for example, Russian and Armenian) in which the traditional music can ?fit? the English beautifully. For example, there are some wonderful recordings of the choir of St Vladimir?s Theological Seminary using traditional music with English words: the English is perfectly intelligible.

There is a real need for (1) an accurate translation of the Coptic texts in literate, liturgical language, compiled so that it is suitable for chanting, and (2) an adaptation of the traditional Coptic (that is, NOT Arabic) music of the services to enable it to be applied to the English translation. To which might be added: (3) an adaptation that provides services of a reasonable and realistic duration for the contemporary world. I would rather have a Liturgy of two hours attended throughout by everyone than (as is the reality now) a liturgy of three or four hours sporadically attended for an hour or so by most young people. I would probably (just to add to the potential for controversy!) also add: (4) an adaptation of the ritual and regalia to reduce the impact of irrelevant ?ethnic exotica?.

I would want to note that, far from being revolutionary proposals, there are ultra-conservative ideas, seeking to return to the liturgical practice of the Early Church!

All Orthodox Churches face the increasing problem that younger (and better educated) people are unlikely to be enthusiastic about spending many hours each week in attending services they cannot understand which reflect a culture with which they do not identify.

Fr Gregory

Messages In This Thread
Growth and Size of the BOC/COP - John Mark - 25-05-2007, 02:11 PM
Growth - John Charmley - 26-05-2007, 10:07 PM
[] - Fr Gregory - 26-05-2007, 11:47 PM
Coptic Church - John Charmley - 27-05-2007, 04:50 PM
[] - Fr Gregory - 27-05-2007, 10:29 PM

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