Posts tagged Raphael Hawaweeny
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on November 28, 1915:
The Holy Orthodox Russo-Greek Catholic Church has established a college for young women at the corner of Pennsylvania and Glenmore avenues, in the East New York section. About nine years ago Archbishop Platon and the priests of the Russo-Greek Church decided in their Convention that it would be advisable to found a college for young women of their own faith. This was thought especially desirable for the reason that many of the daughters of the clergy as well as of the laity could not gain as much attention in the secular institutions of this country in the branches of learning most needful to the Slavic population as in an institution of their own denomination. In time they were to take their places as polished and educated young Slavic-American citizens of the country; and, while devoted to their Church, still equally so to this republic as Americans. They would have to become factors in its life and progress. Russians move slowly but surely. Their Church in this country and in Canada has made very great strides. Their objects have been especially to gather in their own people who, for a time, from necessity, have been left here and there without a shepherd; to so work as to conform rigorously to the established laws of the United States without in any way grasping political power or drawing upon public State funds to help their Church institutions, but depend upon the pockets of their own children, however poor, to share for the common good of all; and, finally, to establish monasteries, nunneries, schools, orphan asylums, seminaries for theological students and colleges for the higher education of their young women.
The first of these latter institutions, the one in East New York, was founded by the Most Rev. Evdokim, the present Archbishop of North America, on the 14th of last September, which date, according to the Russian Julian Calendar, was September 1. The building was formerly the Russian Orphan Asylum, but on that institution having been demoved to the State of Massachusetts, it opened up the way for the far-seeing Archbishop to occupy the premises for the new venture.
Pupils from several States of America and the Balkans are already in attendance. They are a very bright and intelligent set of young women, ranging in age from 16 to 25 years. They are a serious and determined number of students, who realize much the object of their presence in their Church’s college. Indeed, from among their number many will become the wives of future priests of the Orthodox Church, fully equipped, both educationally, socially and religiously, as helpmates to their husbands.
The Russian priesthood is a Class in Society and their wives are expected to be refined and educated to fit into their lives and church interests. Of course, it is voluntary on the part of the Greek Orthodox Catholic clergy to marry or not, but they must marry, if at all, before they enter the priesthood, according to the ancient rule of the General Councils. And if, after marriage, a priest’s wife dies, he cannot remarry. The bishops are always selected from among the unmarried monastic, or “Black Clergy,” as they are called in contradistinction to the “White Clergy,” or secular priests, that is, the married, parochial clergy.
The general supervision of the college is under His Grace, Archbishop Evdokim, who, himself, visits regularly and acts as a professor in one of the branches. Besides the Archbishop there are nine other professors, five of whom are women, viz., Mrs. A.S. Meschersky, Miss Chervobawa, Mrs. Turkevitch and Mrs. Kohanik. The men professors are Very Rev. L. Turkevitch, Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral; the Rev. Peter Kohanik, secetary of the North American Ecclesiastical Consistory; G. Cherepin and the Rev. Dr. Ingram N.W. Irvine. Mrs. E.A. Krilova is the house superintendent and Mrs. Meschersky is her local assistant.
The college is divided into two departments, namely, the Russian and English. The English department is under the Rev. Dr. Irvine, who, for a time, was a professor in the Russian Orthodox Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, Minn., and has been used as a utility priest in all departments of the Holy Orthodox Greek Catholic Church. In the theological seminary he was the lecturer for six chairs of instruction. He has been used in a versatile way in his Church and has ever been a great favorite with all the young of the different nationalities who are represented in the Russo-Greek and, in fact, the whole Holy Orthodox Church of America.
For some years Dr. Irvine was associated with the late Bishop Raphael of Brooklyn, head of the Syrian-Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America. The doctor was his theologian and he always consulted him on matters of importance. They were old and fast friends till the bishop’s seemingly untimely death. Dr. Irvine on the death of his personal friend was retransferred to St. Nicholas Russian Cathedral, Manhattan, at the request of the Russian clergy, with whom he is quite a favorite. On the opening of the college in Brooklyn by the present Archbishop he was placed in charge as rector of the English department and the preacher at the chapel as well as associate at the Liturgical Service.
Few men of any nation have had a more varied experience than Dr. Irvine. He is acquainted with many characteristics of the Slovanic, Grecian and Oriental races, which make up the membership of the Holy Eastern or, as it is technically known, the Greek-Orthodox Catholic Church. The doctor is an Irishman by birth, but came to America as a youth, studied in the United States and graduated in the great Episcopal General Theological Seminary, West Twentieth street, New York City. A class of men now fast passing away were his associates. The present Episcopal Bishop Burgess of Long Island and Dr. Irvine were seminary rectors. In fact, Dr. Irvine in his early ministry was rector of St. James Church, Smithtown, Long Island, and through his influence Mrs. Stewart gave the money to build Garden City Cathedral Church.
The Rev. Dr. Irvine’s wife has been in his long ministry his fellow worker and is equally loved with him by all who know her. It is a pathetic sight to see the Syrian children, whose spiritual welfare was looked after for years in Brooklyn by the doctor, gather around him and Mrs. Irvine when they enter the section of Brooklyn or Manhattan where the Syrians reside, and embrace them. It matters not how the little faces look, clean or unclean, they are filled with pleasure.
Into St. Mary’s Russian College he takes the same love for and interest in the young priests who were his students in the West and who are now scattered through the States and Canada, holding his name as a household word. Another institution of learning has been added to Brooklyn’s long list and the Russian Church has selected a Long Island man to head her English department, especially a priest who thoroughly understands American life and the peculiarities of many denominations.
Last week, we reprinted Isabel Hapgood’s account of St. Raphael’s funeral. The Hapgood article appeared in the New York Tribune on March 8, 1915. Two days later, the paper published the following letter to the editor from Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine:
To the Editor of The Tribune.
Sir: An unfortunate mistake was made in an article written by Miss Isabel Hapgood which would make it seem to appear that the Russian Bishop and his Russian clergy did not pay the proper repsect to the office of the Syrian Bishop at the funeral. The words to which exception is taken are as follows: “The Syrian priests, in passing, kissed the dead Bishop’s hand after kissing the cross. The Russian Bishop and priests passed without saluting cross and hand.”
Indeed, the respect and episcopal honor paid to Bishop Raphael’s office and person by Bishop Alexander was the most remarkable expression of love that has ever been known in the United States to the body of a dead prelate. From the moment Bishop Alexander was notified of his brother Bishop’s death until the day after his burial in the crypt of the cathedral (which, by the bye was not built by Bishop Raphael, as Miss Hapgood, through misapprehension, also states) he and his clergy were present and gave the same attention as if the deceased Bishop was of their own nationality. The usual custom of kissing the cross and the hand of the dead Bishop was also observed.
If, from matter of respect to the Syrian clergy, who had come from great distance to the funeral, Bishop Alexander and his clergy gave way for a moment, it was altogether because of the tenderness toward thirty priests of the Syrian Bishop who crowded around the casket brokenhearted and bereaved. However, from the first visitation to the dead body until the casket lid was locked down, Bishop Alexander and his clergy paid every required honor — indeed, to such an extent that it might have appeared to outsiders that he was their own Bishop and not that of the Syrian flock.
INGRAM N.W. IRVINE.
St. Nicholas Cathedral, March 9, 1915
As regular readers of this website know, Irvine was a prominent Episcopal priest who converted to Orthodoxy and was ordained by St. Tikhon in 1905. Irvine worked closely with St. Raphael and his Syrian Mission from the beginning, and around 1909, he was actually transferred to St. Raphael’s own jurisdiction. Irvine remained there until St. Raphael’s death, after which he returned to the main Russian Mission. Irvine was a tireless promoter of the use of English in American Orthodoxy, the education of Orthodox children, and the unity of all Orthodox ethnic groups under the Russian Archdiocese.
As we have seen before (and will see again), Irvine had an antagonistic relationship with Isabel Hapgood, the Episcopalian writer and linguist who translated the Service Book into English in 1906. While the pair shared an interest in spreading the use of English in American Orthodox parishes, they differed on virtually everything else. Hapgood’s views of Irvine aren’t well recorded (or, if they are, they haven’t been discovered yet), but Irvine is on record many times as an outspoken opponent of Hapgood and nearly all that she stood for. It is therefore unsurprising that Irvine would publicly call out Hapgood on such a seemingly insignificant error in an otherwise accurate article on St. Raphael’s funeral.
Then again, perhaps it wasn’t so insignificant. It’s established that, as early as St. Raphael’s funeral itself, the Syrian priests were divided over whether they should be under Russia or Antioch (see, for instance, the 1924 court case Hanna v. Malick). We also know, from other documents, that Irvine strongly supported the unity of American Orthodoxy under Russian jurisdiction. I’m just speculating here, but it is entirely possible that Irvine read Hapgood’s error in the context of the jurisdictional uncertainty and division that was beginning to overtake the Syrian Mission in the days and weeks after St. Raphael’s death. Viewed in this light, Irvine may have felt it necessary to emphasize, very publicly, the unity between the Russians and the Syrians. The fact that it also accorded him the opportunity to criticize his longtime foe, Hapgood, would have been icing on the cake.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
Editor’s note: The following article was written by Isabel Hapgood and appeared in the New York Tribune on March 8, 1915. It is the most complete surviving description of the funeral of St. Raphael, who died on February 27, 1915. Hapgood herself had known St. Raphael for nearly two decades, from the time that he first arrived in America.
The first Syro-Arabian Bishop in America was buried yesterday in a tomb beneath the Syro-Arabian Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Brooklyn, which forms his monument.
Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny was born in Damascus, a pure Arab. [In fact, St. Raphael's family was from Damascus, but he was born in Beirut. - Ed.] From the Patriarchal Theological School, at Khalki, he went to Russia and became so identified with the spirit of the country that he was wont to say, “In soul I am a Russian.” He went in a monastery at Kiev for six years, and then was professor of Arabic at the University of Kazan. A desire for active work brought him to America.
In Russia he was ordained, and it was under the auspices of the Holy Synod that he labored here. On several occasions the Patriarch of Antioch offered him the rank of Metropolitan in his native Syria. It is probable that had he returned he would have become Patriarch, but he felt that his work was among the 25,000 Syro-Arabians here, whom he had organized into thirty parishes.
He came to this country in 1895. His first church was on the second floor of a house in Washington Street, Manhattan. How the floor bore up under the masses of worshippers, especially when the Russian Bishop held services there on his infrequent visits from San Francisco (then the seat of the Russian diocese), I never understood. Another dispensation of Providence was required to avert a catastrophe when we adjourned to the floor above and enjoyed a genuine Arab feast, ending with Arab coffee flavored with rosewater from Syria. All the partitions and supports below had been removed to make space in the church.
Bishop Nicholas, now Archbishop of Warsaw, remarked to me on one occasion: “I know now exactly how Louis XIV felt when he had to eat in public!”
After the feast a couple of handsome young fellows (ladies’ tailors by their American profession) in Albanian costume performed the famous sword play over the oilclothed floor, upon which dressy lengths of ingrain carpet had been loosely laid, with such vigor that they literally cut the gas jets, partly smashed the fixtures and had to be separated by the umpire, who interposed with a dagger — more Providence!
One day a pistol flew from one of the swordsmen’s sashes across the room and landed at my feet — that illustrates the vigor of the proceedings. I captured it and refused to return it until the end of the session — and thereafter, instead of sitting at the side of the room, I took a safe seat by the side of the Russian Bishop.
A few years passed and Father Raphael was able to move his church to a building on Pacific Street, near Hoyt Street, which later on became a cathedral. That was in 1904. Early that year he was raised to the rank of Archimandrite, and in May of that year he was consecrated Bishop, and became the second Vicar of the Russian Archbishop.
Ordinarily three bishops are required for consecration. In this case, owing to its exigencies, only two officiated, the Most Revered Tikhon, Archbishop of Aleutia and North America, now Archbishop of Vilna, and the Right Rev. Innokentz, first Vicar, later Bishop of Yakutsk and Viluisk, and now Archbishop of Tashkent, in Turkestan. That is, I am sure, the only ocasion [sic] when a Bishop of the Orthodox Eastern Church has been consecrated in America, and a wonderful service it was.
The Russian Ambassador, not being able to come, sent his representative, who sat at the right hand of the new Bishop at the banquet which followed. As the only representative of America and the Episcopal Church, I was placed at his left hand, opposite the consecrating prelates, and was called on for a speech after the Ambassador’s representative had conveyed his formal message.
In course of time Bishop Raphael came to know many of the Episcopal clergy, and was highly respected by them. His later alienation from them is regarded as having arisen under misapprehension. By his own people he was cherished as the man to whom they owed their beneficent organizations. The Young Turk element quarrelled with him for reciting the formal prayer for the Sultan, as the ruler of Syria, in the services, and several attempts were made on his life. At times he was obliged to go about with a guard, and I met him in the Syrian restaurants dining with a guard on duty. But he lived down their enmity.
Bishop Raphael died, after an illness of three weeks, from dropsy, kidney trouble and heart disease, worn and gray as a man of seventy with his toils and sufferings.
For a week he lay in state in his cathedral, and morning and evening requiem services were held by the Right Rev. Alexander, Bishop of Alaska, assisted by Russian and Syrian clergy. A wonderful service, picturesque in setting.
Across the foot of the open coffin was draped the purple episcopal mantle, with its crimson velvet “tables of the law.” Over the face lay a sacramental veil of white and silver brocade, embroidered with a gold cross. At the head of the coffin stood pontifical candles, but no longer lighted, as during pontifical service. They were tied with black ribbons, so that their tips spread abroad, reversed and unlighted. Between them, leaning against the head of the catafalque and the coffin rose the crozier. Behind, on a folding lectern, lay a purple velvet cushion, on which were placed the orders and decorations which the Bishop had received, many from Russia. The holy doors in the centre of the ikonostasis, with its many ikoni, were closed and draped in black and gold, purple and silver. All about the walls were more ikoni, and huge floral pieces surrounded the coffin. One of the set pieces was an armchair, of white artificial flowers, with sprays of lavender flowers and surmounted by a canopy or arched gateway of palms, violet tulle and white flowers.
At the evening requiems the church was always filled. Many women waited for hours to secure front seats in the little gallery. More women thronged every step of the stairs. The Syrian priests, in passing, kissed the dead Bishop’s hand, after kissing the cross. The Russian Bishop and priests passed without saluting cross and hand.
The gospels were read night and day, instead of Psalms, as with a layman, by relays of clergy. The Syrians relieved one another at frequent intervals, and showed the finest, most varied forms of intoning.
Bishop Alexander who, by command of the Holy Synod, has charge of the vast Russian Diocese of North America until the newly appointed Archbishop shall arrive, stood at the services motionless (“like a candle” is the Russian term.)
Thursday evening, at the close of the services, a picture was taken of the dead Bishop and the circle of celebrating clergy. After the clergy had retired, representatives of all the Syrian societies, including women, made addresses from the chancel platform about the great work which Bishop Raphael had accomplished for his people in America.
Saturday morning, after the liturgy had been celebrated in Old Church Slavonic and Greek by Bishop Alexander and his clergy, and in Syrian by the Syrians, while the choir of the Russian Theological Seminary from Tenafly, N.J., sang their part in Slavonic, two requiem services were held, the first by the Metropolitan Hermanos Shehadah, of Selveskia Mount Lebanon [should be Baalbek - ed.], Syria (his black, waist-long hair concealed beneath his black cassock and cloth of silver pall) and the Syrian clergy; and the second by Bishop Alexander and a few Russian priests, the seminary choir singing. The Syrian clergy no longer kissed the dead Bishop’s right hand. That lay at rest forevermore. The raised left hand supported a large cross, and this alone was saluted.
Yesterday morning, at 10 o’clock, the liturgy was celebrated by Bishop Alexander, standing at the right of Metropolitan Hermanos, on their eagle rugs upon the dais at the head of Bishop Raphael’s coffin. As was customary, Bishop Alexander was vested on the dais in magnificent vestments of silver brocade. Metropolitan Hermanos wore gold brocade and the tall Metropolitan’s mitre of crimson velvet and gold, from whose crest rose a diamond cross. The choir of the Russian St. Nicholas Cathedral sang, except during the brief intervals when the Syrians chanted.
At a layman’s funeral the clergy wear black velvet and silver; at the funeral of a priest or bishop, no mourning is worn and the flowerlike vestments of the priests, mingling with the magnificent floral pieces, produce a very brilliant effect. The Syrian deacon wore pink brocade with a stole of blue and gold. As only 500 people were allowed by the authorities inside the cathedral, there was space for the ceremony of processions to and from the altar. At 12 o’clock the liturgy ended. At 1:30 the funeral began.
The singing was now done for the Syrians by the boys’ and girls’ choir of the Sunday school, wearing white vestments with lavender crosses, the girls, with mortarboard caps, occasionally assisting the clergy. The Russian singing was done by the clergy, assisted by the adult members of the choir. In all there were about forty priests, Russian and Syrian, who chanted, the Russians led by Archdeacon Vsevolod, of the Russian Cathedral, with his magnificent voice.
Among the hymns, which show the spirit of the service, were:
“Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of thy servant and establish him in Paradise. Where the choirs of the saints, O Lord, and of the just, shine like the stars of heaven, give rest to thy servant, who hath fallen asleep, regarding not all his transgressions.”
“Forasmuch as we all are constrained to that same dread abode, and shall hide ourselves beneath a gravestone like to this, and shall ourselves shortly turn to dust, let us implore of Christ rest for him who hath been translated hence.”
In the Eastern Church there are several orders of burial. One is for a child under seven years old, in which no mention is made of sin, because a child’s soul “is not grown,” as the Russians say, until he is seven. Another is for adult laymen; a third, for those who die in Easter week, in which there are almost no songs of mourning, but all are songs of the joy of the Resurrection; the fourth, for dead priests, has five epistles and five gospels. These were read by the Syrians and the Russians alternately, as were the many hymns, most of which were written by St. John of Damascus.
Then at last the clergy made addresses, Father Basil Kerbawy, dean of the cathedral, Father Sergius Snegyeroff and others, in praise of the Bishop. Father Kerbawy reduced the congregations to tears. Bishop Alexander made the last speech, directly addressing the dead as he stood by the coffin.
After “Memory Eternal” had been proclaimed in Syrian and in Old Church Slavonic, with the addition of the Bishop’s title and name, the procession formed. It is customary to carry the body of a Bishop around the outside of the church and to hold a brief service on each of the four sides before going to the graveyard. This constituted the funeral procession in the present case, as its route was along Pacific Street to Henry Street, thence to State Street, then to Nevins Street and back along Pacific Street to the cathedral.
The procession formed in the following order: Cronin, political leader of the district; squad of mounted police; twenty to thirty small boys in white tunics, with lilac crosses and flowers; the Cathedral committee (honorary pall-bearers); girls, singing hymns; Syrian Ladies’ Aid Society; the Homsian Fraternity; the Syro-American Political Club; members of the various Syrian diocesan parishes; the United Syrian Societies; cathedral Sunday school pupils, carrying crosses, candles and church banners; coaches with floral offerings; Archimandrite [Aftimios] Aphaish of Montreal, carrying the cushion with the late Bishop’s orders; finally, St. Joseph’s Society of Boston.
The dead prelate was borne in an open coffin by the priests, the snowflakes drifting down upon his splendid mantle of purple, crimson and white, his golden mitre, and the white brocade sacramental veil which covered his face. The body was followed by the Orthodox clergy, both Syrian and Russian; last came Bishop Alexander of Alaska. The family of the deceased, parishioners and friends followed, women joining, although it is not the custom to do so abroad.
Directly beneath the altar the Bishop had built for himself a vault. On the return of the procession masses of the flowers were carried into the crypt, and the clergy surrounded the bronze coffin into which the mahogany casket was lowered. The Metropolitan Hermanos made the final address before the coffin was closed, and a most distressing scene of grief ensued. Not only the clergy, but many parishioners, cast earth upon the body of their beloved Bishop.
The following letter was found in Ingram N.W. Irvine’s file in the OCA Archives in Syosset, New York. The letter is undated (the pre-printed date line “190_” does not have a specific year) and appears under the letterhead of the North American Ecclesiastical Consistory, 15 East 97th Street, New York, N.Y. It is handwritten and appears to be a draft of a letter that was sent to Irvine notifying him of his transfer from the Archbishop Platon to Bishop (now Saint) Raphael. This letter was probably written by Fr. Alexander Hotovitsky. The signature is not very legible, but the first initial is clearly an “A.” The first four letters of the last name are almost certainly “Hoto” or “Hato” or “Hito.”
This is to inform you that by the order of His Grace Archbishop Platon of North America you are […] now transferred to the Orthodox Syrian Mission in Brooklyn, N.Y. to be under […] jurisdiction of Rt. Rev. Bishop Raphael and perform such missionary work […] as His Eminence Bishop Raphael would desire for you within his diocese with understanding that all your service in N.Y. St. Nicholas Cathedral since now shall be discontinued and your connection with […] Cathedral cease, your name having been taken away from the list of clergy of the Russian Cathedral.
Therefore you have to remove your mailing box, etc. to any other address you wish and to make all necessary changes in your cards, letterhead, […], etc. without fail.
As to details in connection with this order please apply to the Bishop Raphael […] has a copy of this […]
[signed] A. Hoto[vitsky?]
Irvine is listed among the Syrian Orthodox clergy in the (Episcopalian) American Church Almanac & Year Book for 1912. Thus, the letter can have been written no later than 1911, when the book was published. In addition, the OCA archives have a letter from Irvine to the North American Ecclesiastical Consistory dated May 25, 1909 in which he talks about the Holy Synod blessing him to establish an English-speaking chapel in New York. More importantly, the archives also include a letter dated just one day earlier (May 24) from the Coudert Brothers law firm to Archbishop Platon regarding a lawsuit against St. Nicholas (Russian) Cathedral. The dispute involved a transaction between Irvine and a printing company. The Cathedral had won, but the printers were appealing, In a postscript, there is the following: “We understood from Dr. Hotovitsky that he had gone over this matter fully with you and that you were fully advised of the situation.”
I don’t think the printing company dispute related above would have been sufficient to precipitate Irvine’s transfer out of the Russian jurisdiction, but it was probably one of several factors. (Notice how strongly the letter’s author emphasizes that Irvine’s connection with the Russian cathedral has “ceased.”)
Irvine was a forward-thinking visionary, and that fit in well when St. Tikhon was in charge. But St. Tikhon was replaced by Abp Platon in 1907, and… well, let’s just say that Platon was no Tikhon. Abp Platon was probably far less encouraging of Irvine’s English work, and far less patient with Irvine’s idiosyncracies. On the other hand, St. Raphael was much more in like with St. Tikhon’s mindset, and would have welcomed a talented priest like Irvine. (In fact, even before he joined the Syrian diocese, Irvine had been writing articles for St. Raphael’s Al Kalimat journal.)
UPDATE: Since this article was published, we have verified that the above letter was, in fact, written by St. Alexander Hotovitzky.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]
On November 4, 1905, a religious and literary journal entitled The Friend published a letter by St. Alexander Hotovitzky, dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York. Hotovitzky wrote in response to an article in The Friend which claimed, “In this Russian service, of course, no one understood what was said, not even the Russians themselves, as the whole of it was in the ancient ecclesiastical Slavonic tongue. As the Romish Church addresses the Lord in Latin, so do the Greeks use this Slavonic language.” Here is Hotovitzky’s reply:
This is not true.
1. Our ecclesiastical Slavonic tongue is the original of modern Russian, Servian, Slavonian, and of other branches of the Slavic world.
2. Every Russian, even children (of school age) understands well the real text and meaning of all prayers in Slavonic, excluding, perhaps, not many expressions which are lost for living use and are not fitting for ordinary practice.
3. Easy to be understood, this Slavonic language has, besides, immense dignity of words, and is sanctified as proper church language by long ecclesiastical usage.
4. To compare the use of the Latin tongue in the Roman Church and of Slavonic in the Russian is, then, far from consistency and knowledge of true conditions of things, because the chief rule of the Eastern Church (which combines Russia, Greece, Jerusalem, Antiochia, etc.) is to say the divine services in the language of the people for whom the services are intended; in Japan we celebrate and preach in Japanese, in China in Chinese, in Alaska in the native tongue of the Aleutians, and in some churches of America in English, always according to the needs and understanding of the congregation.
5. Russians do not understand Greek, and Greeks do not understand the Russian; so in a Greek church you never hear one word of the Slavonic tongue, and vice versa; yet both are of the same Eastern Catholic confession.
A. Hotovitzky, Dean of the Russian St. Nicholas Cathedral.
New York, Ninth Month 24, 1905.
I’m particularly interested in St. Alexander’s point about the use of English in some American Orthodox parishes. This was 1905; the very next year, Isabel Hapgood published her landmark English translation of the Service Book, facilitating the wider use of English. But Slavonic would remain the dominant language of the Russian Archdiocese for years to come. The 1916 Census of Religious Bodies reports that 166 of the 169 Russian Orthodox congregations in America worshipped exclusively in Slavonic.
In fact, among American Orthodox groups, only St. Raphael’s Syrians (Antiochians) really embraced English in the early years of the 20th century. Although they liturgized exclusively in Arabic in 1906, by 1916, over half of the Syrian parishes had completely switched to English, and numerous others had incorporated English to one degree or another. In fact, in 1916, no more than four of the 25 Syrian congregations continued to worship in Arabic alone. It was a remarkable, dramatic shift that probably had several contributing causes, including the vision of St. Raphael, the influence of Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine, and the translation work of Isabel Hapgood. For more, check out my article from August 21 of last year.
[This article was written by Matthew Namee.]