Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Of Prayer Books - I (the Jordanville Prayer Book)

While not necessarily the first, one of the recognized early classic prayer books is the Prayer Book of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. This volume includes the complete morning and evening ‘personal’ prayers, as well as excerpts from Matins, Vespers, the people’s text of the Divine Liturgy, and Troparia for each day of the week and all the important Feast Days of the Church Year. In addition, Akathists and Canons to our Lord, the Theotokos, and the complete preparatory prayers and Canon for Holy Communion and Thanksgiving After Holy Communion are included.

The older editions of this highly influential collection featured a sturdy hard cover with etched decoration. I've had my copy since the 1970s and though the pages have yellowed, it has held up quite nicely. Somewhere along the way the text of the prayers were tweaked and the original translation of the psalms was replaced with the Psalter According to the Seventy from Holy Transfiguration Monastery. The newer edition also includes a section on Christian living and etiquette in Church. The newer edition's cover is somewhat fancier and the page edges are gilded.

The Jordanville Prayer Book uses classical English (Thee, thou, shalt, etc.), which may not suit everyone, but certain traditional phrasings familiar to almost everyone in the English-speaking Orthodox and Greek Catholic world originate from this volume. For those wishing to check it out before ordering, the original text is fully available online at two locations, Myriobiblos in Greece and St Mary of Egypt parish in Atlanta.

To my knowledge there is only one comparable prayer book to the Jordanville volume, and that will be my next review.

PS, I am happy to take suggestions of other prayer books as I don't pretend to know them all. If I have not already prepared a review I'll be delighted to consider yours.


Dave said...

I'd like to see a review of the Melkite Publican's Prayerbook.

It seems inexpensive enough, and I'm wondering how it is.

The Byzantine Rambler said...

Your wish is my command! Actually, I had already intended to review the Publican's Prayer Book; which is why I began with the classic Jordanville volume!