Service for Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth

We will soon be commemorating the New-martyr Elizabeth, martyred by the Bolsheviks along with the Romanov royal family. This service to the Grand Duchess Elizabeth was obtained from with the website of St. Elizabeth Convent in Minsk, but some editing was needed.

Changes were needed, not because of any inadequacies in the original text, but partially to help the meaning of the words come through when sung to the melodies used here at our parish. I would assume that the original Russian/Slavonic wording was created “straight into” the Church tones. Once translated into English, it would again need a little “massaging” to really help the meaning shine through.

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The Monk Who Never Judged Anyone and Died Joyfully

Coming up on the Sunday of the Last Judgment, we might feel a stirring of some of those fears we have, deep down, of that Judgment Day. But there is a trick. We actually have a large amount of control over how we are judged.

Christ says, Judge not, and you will not be judged. And, he adds elsewhere, with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Meaning, if I am incredibly lenient with my judgment of others, the Lord will also be incredibly lenient with me. There is a beautiful entry of an unnamed monk in the Prologue of Ochrid:

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Zephaniah – Zechariah – same difference

In the process of preparing text to be sung in our services, I often run across questions about the meaning. I try my best to reword unclear passages so they will make sense to the hearer, who, in almost all cases, will only get one chance to hear that particular text, and that, sung by the choir, no less. It is a bit of a musical, poetic, biblical, historical puzzle.

Sometimes the unclear passage is a reference to something in the saint’s life: “thou didst offer an incense of sweet savor with thy martyr’s hand” (Barlaam, 19Nov). We understand the words, but it raises questions in our minds. Sometimes, it is an unclear combination of the saint’s life and and a particular scripture passage; the irmos portions of Matins do this fairly often.

This coming Sunday, we will be celebrating the prophet Zephaniah. Something about the kontakion hymn for him, and the quote from the prophecy included in it, caught my eye and I looked it up. I just copied the words into the search engine, and was a bit surprised to find the results listed as Zechariah…a different Z-prophet. This is a problem I have not seen before.

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Apply Wine and Oil

I just love the interaction between Christ and the lawyer that we see in Luke 10. Christ asks: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The lawyer replies: “You shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Christ says: “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

This man is an expert in the Law; he knows his stuff, and more than that, he has a right understanding and a good interpretation of it. He understands that these two “laws”—neither of which come from the Ten Commandments, nor even from sections that we would usually consider law—that these two truly encompass the whole law of God. “Do this and you will live.” The parable that Jesus tells is to re-emphasize the rightness of what the lawyer said, but also to lead him to a full understanding of those two “laws”.

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What Prayer Book to Buy

For something the Orthodox Christian uses every day, the choice of prayer book can make a big difference. I have been using the St. Tikhon Monastery Press Orthodox Christian Prayers prayer book for quite a while now, and will share some thoughts on it, so you can make a more educated decision when trying to choose a prayer book for yourself.

Initially, I would like to share some of the features of this prayer book for those who wonder if they should order one and do not have a chance to pick one up and thumb through it, but then eventually, I would also like to share some of my little “hacks” for the book: things like marking tones to aid in singing and how I use some of the information included here that most prayer books do not have.

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