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HTM's Holy Week and Pascha

scamandrius

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Holy Week and Pascha, Μεγάλη Εβδομάς καί Πάσχα.  Published by HTM, Boston, MA: 2017.880 pages.  $27.

The impetus for the publication of this book was the immensely popular bilingual (Greek and English) Holy Week and Pascha book by Fr. George Pappadeas which still remains a standard for chanters and laity for Orthodox Christians in America, but is replete with errors (orthographic, poor translations, the condensing of services, omission of others).  This book set out to correct that.  It contains a bilingual text of all the services that would be served in the parish (hence, no compline and no small Vespers on Palm Sunday evening) beginning with Vespers for the Saturday of St. Lazarus and concludes with the Agape Vespers of Pascha evening.

Good things:
1)  This is an inexpensive book (the Papadeas is also about the same price if you can still find a hardcover copy) and is about the same size as the Papadeas.  It's not bulky but can be easily used by the parishioner during the services.
2)  The canons and the sessional hymns in English are METERED.  As a chanter, this is immensely helpful.  So many of the hymns during Lent and Holy Week are prosomia which means they are to be sung to established melodies.  The translations in Papadeas are not metered so trying to fit those English texts to the established melody requires a lot of creative on-the-fly stitchwork.  However, there is a drawback which I will explore in the next section.  I also appreciated the inclusion of the the special melodies in ENglish which are for those chanters who cannot read Greek. in teh Papadeas, the special melodies are only on the Greek side of the page.
3)  The service for Holy Thursday Orthros is included which was omitted by Papadeas (as it is not often done outside of monasteries).
4)  The translations are, as you would expect, of the high quality one would expect from HTM in Elizabethan English (which could also be a criticism for some).
5)  The verses for Psalm 118 as stichoi are included in the Lamentations (Encomia)
6)  Mistakes made in earlier editions (both in Greek and in English) have been corrected as indicated in the note to the reader.
7)  More languages for the Gospel reading at Agape Vespers including corrections to the Latin text which are numerous in Papadeas.
8)  The lack of an extended introduction and footnotes clearly indicate that this is meant to be used as a service book for anyone (priest, chanter, laity) and not a scholarly exegesis into the liturgics of Holy Week and Pascha. 
9)  Fine illustrations and decorations throughout as is typical of HTM in other publications.

Criticisms:
1)  With point # 2 above, the English metered renderings of canons and sessional hymns are metetered to HTM's versions of the prosomia hymns.  As a chanter, I find HTM's melodies to be OK at best and inelegant at worst.  It would be possible to use the metered texts to other versions of the prosomia like Fr. Seraphim Dede's or even some of the Arabic versions, but it's not going to line up exactly one to one so the chanter may have to do some on the fly stitchwork if he is not too much of a fan of the HTM melodies.
2)  The placement of the Lamentations for Holy Friday evening for Saturday Orthros (though correctly placed traditionally) are now done after the Canon in most parishes (at least in the AANA).  It would require some flipping which may annoy people. ALso, since most parishes do not also chant the stichoi of Psalm 118 (Amomoi) between each Lamentation, the inclusion of this may not have been necessary. 
3)  As much as I appreciate the labeling of the music by modes and not tones, the faithful who do have some semblance of Orthodox musical ability probably know them as modes 1-8 and not as modes 1-4, plagal mode 1, plagal mode 2, varys and plagal mode 4.  That may lead to some early confusion, but could be easily corrected.  I think the term tone and labeling them 1-8 has become almost standard.
4)  I would have appreciated some bookmarks. Other HTM publications have them. 

Verdict:  Buy it.  It's worth it.
 

RobS

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Thanks for the extensive review, scamandrius. I'll have to get that before my first Holy Week and Pascha. Any other book recommendations during that week or Great Lent?
 

scamandrius

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RobS said:
Thanks for the extensive review, scamandrius. I'll have to get that before my first Holy Week and Pascha. Any other book recommendations during that week or Great Lent?
You are welcome. I really wouldn't recommend too much else.  Holy Week has so much that I think to immerse yourself in the hours of prayer as much as you can would be sufficient and there is much to contemplate there.  However, if you're looking for more explanations as to what is going on and how the hymns are significant, I really don't have anything for you. 

Also, since next year's Holy Week will be your first, may I suggest that you go to the church services and merely listen.  Don't take the book along with you to "read along".  Some may get frustrated because what they read is not necessarily the same text to what is being sung/chanted.  Others get bogged down in the letter of the text.  In general, I'm not a huge fan of service books. I know they are useful, but I know they can also be detrimental.  I would train your ear first, then train your eyes.  Just my $.02 on the subject. 
 

RobS

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scamandrius said:
RobS said:
Thanks for the extensive review, scamandrius. I'll have to get that before my first Holy Week and Pascha. Any other book recommendations during that week or Great Lent?
You are welcome. I really wouldn't recommend too much else.  Holy Week has so much that I think to immerse yourself in the hours of prayer as much as you can would be sufficient and there is much to contemplate there.  However, if you're looking for more explanations as to what is going on and how the hymns are significant, I really don't have anything for you. 

Also, since next year's Holy Week will be your first, may I suggest that you go to the church services and merely listen.  Don't take the book along with you to "read along".  Some may get frustrated because what they read is not necessarily the same text to what is being sung/chanted.  Others get bogged down in the letter of the text.  In general, I'm not a huge fan of service books. I know they are useful, but I know they can also be detrimental.  I would train your ear first, then train your eyes.  Just my $.02 on the subject.
Thanks for your advice, that makes a lot of sense. Again thanks for the thorough review.

 

Agabus

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You mentioned the Pappadeas edition, but how does it compare to the Antiochian Holy Week book?

 

Mor Ephrem

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scamandrius said:
2)  The placement of the Lamentations for Holy Friday evening for Saturday Orthros (though correctly placed traditionally) are now done after the Canon in most parishes (at least in the AANA). 
Yuck!

ALso, since most parishes do not also chant the stichoi of Psalm 118 (Amomoi) between each Lamentation, the inclusion of this may not have been necessary. 
Alithos yuck! 
 

scamandrius

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Mor Ephrem said:
scamandrius said:
2)  The placement of the Lamentations for Holy Friday evening for Saturday Orthros (though correctly placed traditionally) are now done after the Canon in most parishes (at least in the AANA). 
Yuck!

ALso, since most parishes do not also chant the stichoi of Psalm 118 (Amomoi) between each Lamentation, the inclusion of this may not have been necessary. 
Alithos yuck!
I know.  My hope is that this publication will make the AANA reconsider their own rubrics considering how much they seem to like and use HTM's material.
 
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