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the Upper Room
A Pueblo B o o k published b y Liturgical Press
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M in nesota 5 6 3 2 1 * 7 5 0 0 . Printed in th e U nited States o f A m erica.
1___________ 2__________ 3__________ 4___________5__________ 6__________ 7___________8
L ib r a r y o f C o n g re ss C a ta lo g in g -in -P u b lic a tio n D ata
Liturgy in m igration : from the upper room to cyberspace / edited by Teresa Berger,
“A Pueblo Book.”
ISB N 9 7 8 -0 -8 1 4 6 -6 2 7 5 -5 — IS B N 9 7 8 -0 - 8 1 4 6 -6 2 7 6 -2 (e-b o o k )
2. Em igration and im m igration — Religious
a sp e cts— C h ristian ity — C ongresses.
B V 1 6 9 .5 .L 5 9
2 6 4 — d c23
I. Berger, Teresa.
Foreword _ vii
M artin D. Jean
1. Belonging to the Church
G raham Ward
Part I : H istorical M om ents o f Liturgical M igration
2. Ritual Practices on the Move between Jew s and Christians:
Theories and Case Studies in Late Antique Migration
Clem ens L eon hard
3. A Shared Prayer over Water in the Eastern Christian Traditions
M ary K . Farag
4. Migrating Nuns— Migrating Liturgy: The Context o f Reform in
Female Convents o f the Late Middle Ages
Gisela M uschiol
5. “From M any Different Sources0:
The Form ation o fth e Polish and Lithuanian Reformed Liturgy
K az im ierzB em
6. M ethodism ’s ‘‘World Parish”: Liturgical and Hymnological Migrations in
Three Ecclesiastical G enerations
K aren B. Westerjield Tucker
C im tenfe
7. An Immigrant Liturgy: Greek O rthodox Worship and
Architecture in A m erica
Kos/is Kourdis and Vasilcios Marinis
Part 2: Contemporary Liturgical Migrations
8. Eastern Christian Insights and W estern Liturgical Reforms:
Travelers, Texts, and Liturgical Luggage
Amic M cG ow an
9. Hispanic Migrations: C onnections between Mozarabic and Hispanic
Devotions to the Cross
R aul G dm ez-Ruiz, SDS
10. Sounding the Challenges o f Forced Migration:
Musical Lessons from the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Diaspora
K ay K aufm an Shek m a y
11. Asian American Catholics and Contem porary Liturgical Migrations:
From Tradition-M aintenance to Traditioning
Jon athan Y. Tan
12. Soundings from the Liturgical Ecum ene:
Liturgical Migration, Christian M ission, and Mutual Conversions
C harles £ . F arhadian
13. Liturgical Migrations into Cyberspace: Theological Reflections
List of Contributors
A Shared Prayer over Water in
the Eastern Christian Traditions
Mary K. Farag
W ith the exception o f the Maronite tradition and the so-called Assyr
ian or Nestorian tradition, all Eastern Christian traditions have one
prayer in com m on in their respective Epiphany rites: the prayer for
the sanctification o f the waters.1These Epiphany rites— namely, those
o f the Armenian, Byzantine, Coptic, Ethiopia, and Syriac traditions— differ in
significant ways, both in lectionary selections and in prayers, but all possess
one prayer in com m on: a prayer referred to by its incipit, “Great Art Thou.”
Earliest manuscript witnesses to this prayer date to the eighth century in the
Byzantine tradition (the Barberini euchologion), the eighth to ninth century
in the Syriac tradition (Brito/t Museum, add. 14,494z), and the ninth to tenth
'Ihe author is grateful to Teresa Berger, Bryan Spinks, and the participants o f the conference
Looking East, held at the Yale Institute o f Sacred M usk, New Haven, CT, 10-11 November
2011, for their comments on this paper.
1. For the Maronite Epiphany rite, see J.-M . Sauget, “Benediction de leau dans la nuit de
)'£piphanie selon I ancienne tradition de i’eglise maronite,” L’Oritnt Syritn 4 ( 1959): 3 19-78. For
the so-called Assyrian or Nestorian Epiphany rite, see A. J. McLeans contribution in Frederick
C. Conybeare, Rituale Armenorum (New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 2004). Conybeare s work
was originally published in 1905.
2. A. du Boulay and G. Khouri-Sarkis, MLe benediction dc I eau, la nuit de rEpiphante, dans
le rite syrien dAntiocherL'Oriirnf Syru;«4 (1 9 5 9 ): 2 1 1 -3 2 , here 212.
Part One: Historical Moment* o f Lifur^ioW Afigrufiim
century in the Armenian tradition (C odex A in Conybeare's edition3). The
earliest manuscript witnesses in the Coptic and Ethiopic rites remain unknown.
The prayer has been variously attributed to Basil o f Caesarea, Proclus o f
Cyprus, and Severus o f A ntioch.4 Two codices describing Armenian ritual
history claim that Basil o f Caesarea composed the entire blessing o f the waters
rite during a stay at Jerusalem .5 A twelfth-century Greek euchologion also at
tributes the rite to “Archbishop Basil” and mentions that he composed it at the
request o f the Council o f Nicaea.6Jacob o f Edessa specifically attributes the
prayer “Great Art Thou” to a certain Proclus “bishop o f one o f the towns o f
the island o f Cyprus.”7 Finally, an Ethiopic euchologion attributes the prayerto
Severus o f Antioch.8 The attributions roughly date the prayer’s composition to
sometime between the fourth and seventh centuries.Jacob ofEdessa's witness
offers a terminus ante quem o f the seventh century.
Importantly, the first half o f “Great Art Thou” is found not only in Epiphany
rites but also in the Byzantine baptismal water blessing. This fact has shaped
much o f the scholarship on “Great Art Thou,” since it has raised the question of
whether the prayer originated in a baptismal rite or an Epiphany rite.9 Scholar-
3. Conybeare, Rifu<(/t'/\rm«rnurnm, ix.
4. P. de Puniet, “Benedictionsde leau,"in Dictionnairedarcheologiechrvtiennectde iiturgie, ed.
Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq (Paris: Letouzey et Ane, 1 9 1 3 -5 3 ), 2 / 1 :6 8 5 -7 1 3 ,7 0 4 -7 .
5. Conybeare, Rifimk
6. Ibid., 430. The idea that the Council o f Nicaea commissioned Basil o f Caesarea to write
the prayer is, o f course, anachronistic.
7. The Synodicon in the West Syrian Tradition, trans. Arthur Vbobus, Corpus Scriptorum
Christianorum Orientalium (C SC O ) 368 (Louvain: Secretariat du Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1974), 214.
8. Carl von Arnhard, Liturgie zum TaufFestderaethiopischen Kirche (Miinchen: Akademische
Buchdruckerei von F. Straub, 1886), 24.
9. Hubert Scheidt s study o f baptismal water blessings argues that the baptismal version
o f "Great Art Thou" is dependent upon the Epiphany version: Scheidt, Die Taufwasserweihegebete im Sinne vergleichender Liturgie-Forschung untersucht (Munster: AschendortF, 1935), 54.
Hieronymus Engberding argues the opposite, namely, that the prayer originated in a baptismal
context and later came to be used in the Epiphany rite: Hieronymus Engberding, "Ein iiber*
sehenes griechisches Taufwasserweihegebet und seine Bedeutung," Ostkirchliche Studien 14
(1 9 6 5 ): 2 8 1 -9 1 ,2 9 0 -9 1 . Engberding has been followed by Sebastian Brock, Miguel Arranz, and
Nicholas Denysenko: see Sebastian Brock, “Studies in the Early History o f the Syrian Orthodox
n.s. 23 (1 9 7 2 ): 1 6 -6 4 ,4 5 n l; Miguel Arranz,
“Les sacraments de I ancien euchologe constantinopolitain, pt. 6: LKlllumination>de la nuit de
Piques,” OrienUilia christiana periodica 51 (1 9 8 5 ): 6 0 -8 6 , 7 1 -7 2 ; Miguel Arranz, “Les sacra
ments de lancien euchologe constantinopolitain, pt. 7: LHIllumination’ de ia nuit de Piques,”
Orientalia Christiana periodica 52 (1 9 8 6 ): 1 45-78, 1 6 1 -6 2 ; and Nicholas E. Denysenko, The
A S hared Prayer over Water in the Eastern Christian Traditions
ship has also posed two other questions about the celebration o f Epiphany:
How does the origin o f the Epiphany feast relate to the origin o f Christmas
and to L ent?10Were existing traditions, such as the Jewish feast o f Tabernacles
or the Egyptian Nile cult, Christianized to establish the feast o f Epiphany?11
As the three questions make clear, the history o f inquiry has focused on
the origins o f Epiphany. I do not address this issue o f origins in the present
study, though the inquiry remains open and important. Instead, I would like to
compare and contrast the various versions o f the prayer that circulated in the
Eastern traditions and to highlight the following three aspects o f the prayer:
( 1 ) its use o f Hellenistic terminology, (2 ) its parallels in the prayers o f books
7 and 8 in the Apostolic Constitutions, and (3 ) its significance for the issues o f
prayer addressed to Christ and o f epicleses invoking Christ.
II. A Comparison o f the Various Versions o f “Great Art Thou”
Three publications make possible a comparison o f the Armenian, Greek,
Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions o f “Great Art Thou.” Conybeare s Rituale
A rm enorum 12 contains editions o f the Armenian and Greek versions. For the
Armenian tradition, C onybeare uses a n in th /ten th -cen tu ry manuscript as
his collation base, and he collates it with versions from ten other Armenian
m anuscripts dating from the eleventh to the seventeenth century. For the
Greek tradition, Conybeare collates the baptismal version and the Epiphany
versions in the eighth-century Barberini codex with four other manuscripts.
Budge’s Blessing o f the Waters on the Eve o f the E p ip h an y 11 contains a C optic
Blotting o f Witers and Epiphany: V ie Eastern Liturgical Tradition, Liturgy, Worship and Society
Series (Burlington, V T : Ashgate, 2012), 98.
10. The bibliography on this issue is vast and cannot be reproduced here. Thomas J.
Talley s conclusions continue to be followed: see his T/te Origins o f the Liturgical Year (New
York: Pueblo, 1986), 7 9 -1 6 2 , and "The Origin o f Lent at Alexandria," in Worship: Reforming
Tradition (Washington, D C: Pastoral Press, 1990), 8 7 -1 1 2 . For the most recent summary o f
the issues at stake, see Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson, 'Ihe Origins o f Feasts, Fasts and
Seasons in Early Christianity (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011), 123-57.
11. See especially Rene-Georges Coquin, “Les origines de l’£piphame en £gypte,” in Noel,
fipiphanie, Retour du Christ, Lex Orandi 40 (Paris: 1967), 139 70; and Jean Danielou, "La Fete
des Tabernacles dans Iexegese patristique,"Sfw</ui
1 (1 9 5 7 ): 262 79.
12. See note 1.
13. E. A. Wallis Budge, The Blessing o f the Vtfofm on the Eve o f the Epiphany (New York:
Henry Frowde, 1901).
Part One: H istorical M oments o f Liturgical Migration
version o f the prayer from Tuki's euchologion, printed in 1 7 6 1 -6 2 at Rome,
and two Syriac versions from manuscripts at the British Museum. Budge dates
both Syriac manuscripts to the ninth and tenth centuries. As noted above, du
Boulay and Khouri-Sarkis date the first o f Budges Syriac manuscripts to an
earlier range: the eighth to ninth centuries. The second manuscript contains
an important title that attests to the literary (as opposed to oral) transmission
o f the prayer. The title m entions that the rite has been “translated recently
from the Greek.”14 Finally, Arnhards Liturgie zum Tauf-Fest d er aethiopischen
K irche1* presents a version o f the prayer from an Ethiopic paper euchologion
together with a German translation o f the text.Arnhard unfortunately provides
no indication o f the manuscript’s approximate date. Since the euchologion is a
paper codex, it cannot have been written earlier than the thirteenth century.16
W hile the Armenian and Greek versions can be studied on the basis o f mul
tiple manuscripts, study o f the Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions can only
be based on one or two manuscripts (or one printed edition in the case o f the
C op tic) until further research is conducted on C optic, Syriac, and Ethiopic
B. Structural Differences
The Armenian versions o f “Great Art Thou” are significantly shorter than
the Greek, Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions. As noted above, the Greek
baptismal prayer over water and that o f the Epiphany rite are almost identical
up to a certain point, namely, passage 2 2 .1’ Likewise, the Armenian version
o f “Great Art Thou” corresponds closely to the Greek, Coptic, and Syriac ver
sions up to the point o f passage 22. The only passage between 1 and 21 that the
Armenian version does not share with any other version (including the G reek
baptismal prayer) is passage 9, a quotation o f Psalm 7 5 :8 .15 From passage 22
onward, the Armenian version loses much o f its stable correspondence with
all the other versions, especially the Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic ones, in the
following five ways.
14. ibid., s i .
15. See note 8.
16. There is also a translation of the Slavonic Epiphany rite available, but the translator makes
no mention o f the source he used. In any case, it docs not dilfer significantly from the Greek
version and is therefore not included in this study or in the appendix. See Alexios von Maltzew,
Bitt*, Dank- und Weihegottesdicnste (Berlin: Karl Siegismund, 1897), 5 42-49.
17. References to passage numbers refer to the numeration scheme 1 use in the appendix.
18. All references to the Hebrew Scriptures refer to the Septuagint.
A S hared Prayer over Water in the Eastern Christian Traditions
1. A loose rendition o f passage 22 (a petition requesting cleansing, healing,
and sanctification for those who use the water) in the Greek, Coptic, Syriac, and
Ethiopic versions follows the epiclesis o f passage 31 in the Armenian version,
not the petition o f passage 21 in all the other Eastern versions.
2. Out o f its three Old Testament anamnetic passages, the Armenian prayer
contains only one in common with the four Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic pericopes ( 2 3 - 2 5 ,2 8 ) that commemorate G od s use o f water in salvation history.
The com m on pericope concerns Elijah's contest with the prophets o f Ba al in 3
Reigns 18.19As for the two other anamnetic pericopes in the Armenian prayer,
one is unattested in any o f the other Eastern versions and concerns Moses* use
o f wood to sweeten the bitter waters in Exodus 15. The other is only attested
in the G reek version's expansive anam netic section, which contains seven
pericopes and concerns Elishas use o f salt to render the waters wholesome
in 4 Reigns 2.
3. The Arm enian version does not include passage 3 2 , found in all the
other Eastern versions, a petition for the sanctification, blessing, cleansing,
and health o f those who use the water.
4. Like the Greek version, the Armenian prayer includes a petition for God s
servants unattested in the Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions (passage 3 3 ).
5. Finally, the Armenian version does not include passage 35, contained in
all the other versions, which specifies the means by which G od’s name is to be
glorified/praised in passage 36 (b y means o f elements, human beings, angels,
things visible, things invisible).
The Armenian prayer is overall shorter than all its other Eastern counter
parts. The Coptic and Syriac versions are slightly longer, and the G reek version
is even longer than its Coptic and Syriac counterparts. The C optic and Syriac
prayers possess fewer points o f similarity with the Armenian prayer than the
G reek prayer does— that is, the G reek prayer is more closely related to the
Armenian prayer than the Coptic and Syriac ones are.
The Greek prayer also includes two anamnetic passages found in neither
the Armenian version nor the Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions. Passage
27 remembers the waters that flowed from the cloven rock in Exodus 17, and
passage 30 closes the Old Testament anamneses with a New Testament one.
In N icene fashion, passage 3 0 makes rem em brance o f revelations given at
19 . 1
adopt here the titles used by editors Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright to refer
to 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Samuel, and 2 Samuel in A New English Translation o f the Septuagint (New
York: Oxford University Press, 2007).