Because I think the tradition of my Church is really beautiful and I want it to live on, I spend a lot of time translating, and this has been an important part of my life for a little more than two decades.
Most of the texts I translate are prayers and hymns, and over the years I developed a weird skill of translating a rhythmic piece of poetry into the same rhythm in English, so that it can be sung with the same melody. As far as I know, this is the only actual skill I have.
Anyway, I’ve been working on a prayer book which is the culmination of the last twenty years of my translating life. It’s called The Book of Before & After: The Liturgy of the Hours of the Church of the East, which is a translation of the title Kthawa da-qdham wad-bathar, a common prayer book used in the Chaldean, Assyrian, and Malabar Churches (the branches of what was originally just called “the Church of the East”). I printed smaller collections of liturgical prayers like this in 2008, 2011, and 2013, but this is by far the most extensive (and, I hope, the best) book I’ve ever worked on. In its 700-ish pages, it contains an English translation of:
- the full “Ordinary” (or “repeated parts”) of the evening, morning, and various night prayers of the Church of the East
- a new translation of the Psalms directly from the Aramaic, including the antiphons and Psalm-prayers composed by Mar Abba I in the 6th Century
- a complete translation of the ‘onyatha d-sahde or “Martyr Hymns” (or “Anthems”) for the entire week, all singable according to the original melody
- extensive selections from the Hudhra for each Sunday and major Feast Day of the liturgical year (all the ‘onyatha of: basaliqe, shahra, sapra, and qanke; the Psalmody or shuraya for each week, and almost all of the madrashe attributed to Mar Ephrem), as well as a large selection from the Ba’utha of the Ninevites, again translated singable
- the Introductory essays written by: the monk BrykhYsho’ (13th Century), Mar Putrus Eliya XII (1887), Eugene Cardinal Tisserant (1938), Mar Thomas Darmo (1960), and Mar Eshai Shim’un XXIII (1961). It also includes a Translator’s Preface describing the history and theology of the liturgical prayer of the Church of the East
The book is currently complete and in the hands of publishers, and depending on their efficiency, should be in print as a nice vinyl-bound red-and-black-text bible-paper book with ribbons within the next year.
This book was an enormous amount of work, but work that I really do love and enjoy. But I still fried my brain doing it so I might need to take a little nap for a couple months.
Anyway, if you’re the praying type, please pray that the publishing of this book goes smoothly, and that the book bears fruit for all the English-speaking members of the Chaldean, Assyrian, and Malabar sister Churches for whom it is intended. And for anyone else who’d like to use it.
Also, yes this is part of a larger eventual project to translate the entire Hudhra. Give me another 20 years on that one.