For several days, I’ve been working on the Greek and English texts of the Salutations (Χαιρετισμοι) services, in which the famous Akathist to the Theotokos is chanted. The arrangement of the service itself is very interesting. It begins with the service for the Small Compline (Μικρον Αποδειπνον). At the point where the kontakion of the saint of the day is chanted in that service, the Canon of the Akathist and the Akathist itself are chanted. At their conclusion, the service continues not with the rest of Small Compline, but with the service for Great Compline (Μεγα Αποδειπνον). And while that might sound simple, it’s a bit more complex than that.
The Salutations services are held in the evenings of the first five Fridays of the Great Fast (Lent). I’ll describe here the various differences. On the first Friday, the service includes the entire Canon of the Akathist, all nine Odes in a row, followed by the first six stanzas of the Akathist (those of the letters α through ζ). Then, near the end of the service, there is a Gospel reading of John 15.1-7 (“I am the True Vine”). None of the other Salutations services include Gospel readings. The second Friday’s service also goes entirely through the Canon of the Akathist, and then through the next six stanzas of the Akathist (η through μ). The third Friday then also goes entirely through the Canon, and then through the next six stanzas of the Akathist (ν through σ). The fourth Friday also goes straight through the Canon, and then finishes the Akathist with the final six stanzas (τ through ω). The fifth Friday is quite different than the first four Fridays, however, particularly in its reading of the entire Akathist to the Theotokos. Several items are different (namely some kontakia), but especially different from the other Salutations services is the arrangement of the Canon and Akathist. It goes in this order: Akathist stanzas α through ζ; Canon Odes 1 and 3 (there is no Canon 2); Akathist stanzas θ through μ; Canon Odes 4 through 6; Akathist stanzas ν through σ; Canon Odes 7 through 9; Akathist stanzas τ through ω, followed by a repeated stanza α. So, while both the Canon and the Akathist are read in their entirety, neither is read consecutively in its entirety.
So, there’s a little purple book we’ve been using for the Salutations services in our parish which includes both Greek and English texts on facing pages. Last year I noticed a number of oddities, mistakes really, in both the Greek and the English, including incorrect Greek texts (the compiler took it upon himself, wrongly, to change some of the words) and faulty and missing translations on the English side. I made a note of some of these, but then forgot about them until we came to the first Salutations service this year. So I began compiling the English and polytonic Greek texts during this last week. I spent a nice afternoon today proofreading the latter, particularly paying attention to the accents. I’ve compiled the English text out of the translations from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, adjusting the Our Father (to using “…Who art in heaven…trespasses…who trespass against us…evil one.”) and the Creed to the standard English translations in use in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. It’s been educational and highly edifying work, tracking down the texts and getting everything arranged just right. I’ve got each service arranged on the page, all the way through, no turning back and forth. The total is about 200 pages, but with large print and lots of white space, to make it easier for reading in church. The HTM English part had its trial run just yesterday, when one of our readers used it in the Salutations service, and noted some corrections. This coming Friday, I’ll have the full Greek and English version ready, and run it by our bishop and priest, to see if they find it useful. I just have to finish proofreading, and then arrange the texts on facing pages, and that’s that.
So, that’s my fun and edifying project of the week!