The variable texts of the Sunday services are compiled from a variety of sources. First there are the Sunday hymns of the resurrection following an eight week cycle in the Parakliiki. The Resurrection cycle is only omitted on a great feast of Our Lord, for example Theophany or the Transfiguration. Secondly there is the eleven Sunday sequence of Resurrection Gospels which also involve two variable pieces of hymnody. Thirdly there is the daily commemoration from one of the twelve books of the Menaion (Books of the Months). Fourthly there are the Katavasias (Compositions based on nine Biblical odes) in Orthros and the Kontakia in the Liturgy. Finally Sundays before and after a great feast of the Lord or a Sunday commemorating the fathers of an Ecumenical Council also produce proper hymns and readings. Hence texts for every Sunday are unique and repetition rarely occurs. The texts given here follow the usage of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. There may be slight variations from the Churches of Greece or Cyprus.
Traditional Language is a great joy to all of us who have been nurtured on Shakespeare and the Authorised (King James) version of the Bible. Yet to be successful for Orthodox Christian liturgical texts it is more than employing Thou and Thy. Not only must the vocabulary must be consistent with the period, but also the word order and sentence construction. Great flowing complex sentences can be a delight. Thankfully this tradition is found in the translations of Metropolitan Kallistos and Mother Maria. However, that style is not accessible to every Orthodox Christian today.
The accompanying texts employ a conservative modern English style. All the words chosen have been weighed carefully. A modern English document that retains obsolete words would not flow well. Specific religious words such as sacrifice, redemption and salvation cannot be avoided, but in other cases there are good modern alternatives. Participles are freely used in the Greek where it is obvious to which noun they refer. In English sentences have to be constructed with much greater care when participles are used. Too many can result in poetry changing into prose. Consequently participial phrases in these texts are often made into relative or temporal clauses. The texts also follow the grammatical norms of Queen’s English established by Professor David Chrystal. Thus there will be a considerable difference in style between those in American English.
Vocatives often read better when moved to the front of a sentence. While O is not a feature of modern English, it seems to read better in stichera. It is easy to omit if one feels happier without it. Dependent clauses qualifying a second person plural (you who language) are not used today; here they are mostly rendered as main clauses.
There used to be an accepted distinction between shall and will. Shall was used for the first person and will for the second and third. This was reversed to indicate a command. The distinction has largely broken down in modern English. Will is mostly employed in these texts. However, on certain occasions can is used with a weak sense of possibility.
Although sermons may well employ inclusive language, most Orthodox Christians are unhappy about changing original texts. This version does not use inclusive language, however it is not aggressively against it. Any word or expression which could distract Christians desperate to avoid gender worries, is carefully examined. The texts cannot be our prayer if they cause us to wince. There is a middle way between using strong masculine language and obliterating the original distinction between third person singular and plural.
Italics are used to indicate words which are not in the Greek text.
The Lord’s Prayer, Canticles and other common texts have many modern language versions. What is given here will not suit everyone, but can be avoided by using what is well-known.