The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek: Annotated Translation of the Odes, Litanies, and Encomia

The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek: Annotated Translation of the Odes, Litanies, and Encomia

by Abraham Terian


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“Saint Gregory of Narek, a monk of the tenth century, knew how to express the sentiments of your people more than anyone. He gave voice to the cry, which became a prayer of a sinful and sorrowful humanity, oppressed by the anguish of its powerlessness, but illuminated by the splendor of God’s love and open to the hope of his salvific intervention, which is capable of transforming all things.”
—Pope Francis, April 12, 2015

This is the first translation in any language of the surviving corpus of the festal works of St. Gregory of Narek, a tenth-century Armenian mystic theologian and poet par excellence (d. 1003). Composed as liturgical works for the various Dominical and related feasts, these poetic writings are literary masterpieces in both lyrical verse and narrative. Unlike Gregory’s better-known penitential prayers, these show a jubilant author in a celebratory mood. In this volume Abraham Terian, an eminent scholar of medieval Armenian literature, provides the nonspecialist reader with an illuminating translation of St. Gregory of Narek’s festal works. Introducing each composition with an explanatory note, Terian places the works under consideration in their author’s thought-world and in their tenth-century landscape. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814663189
Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Abraham Terian is professor emeritus of Armenian theology and patristics at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, Armonk, New York. A recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities award and Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, he has extensive publications in the fields of Hellenistic, early Christian, and Armenian religious literature.

Table of Contents

Transcription of Armenian xi

Preface xiii

Introduction xvii

Odes and Litanies

1A Ode for the Blessing of Water / "Good news!" 3

2 Litany for the Holy Nativity and Baptism / "Treasure incorruptible" 8

2A Ode for the Nativity / "At the very right hand" 16

3A Ode for the Fortieth-day Coming of the Lord / "One of the Existent" 20

4A Ode for the Forty and Other Holy Martyrs / "Bands of holy confessors" 25

4B Alternate / "We now lift our voices" 29

5A Ode for the Raising of Lazarus / "That very place" 32

5B Canticle for the Raising of Lazarus / "Good news to Mary" 37

5B Var Ode for the Lord's Coming to Lazarus / "Good news to Mary" 39

5c Ode for the Raising of Lazarus / "The Existent, ever of his own essence" 41

6A Ode for the Resurrection / "God is the name" 44

6B Alternate / "Dark am I, beautiful" 49

6c Ode for the Resurrection / "Love at daybreak" 53

7 Litany for St. John the Baptist / "O truly without beginning" 60

A Ode for the Ascension of Christ God / "The Existent" 72

B Ode for the Ascension / "The Existent, Himself" 77

c Alternate / "To that little, sad flock" 80

9 Litany for the Coming of the Holy Spirit / "Treasure of Light" 82

9A Ode for the Coming of the Holy Spirit / "A sudden blast" 89

10 Litany for the Church / "Treasure of profound goodness" 92

10A Ode for the Church / "Heaven on earth" 101

10B Alternate / "The bird, the bird woke up" 105

11 Litany for St. Gregory the Illuminator / "With overwhelming joy elated" 110

12 Litany for the Church and the Ark of the Lord / "Gathered we all" 120

12A Ode for the Church / "Before there was motion" 127

13 Litany for the Transfiguration / "Treasure beyond measure" 130

13A Ode for the Transfiguration / "The gem-like rose" 138

14 Litany for the Assumption of the Most Blessed Holy Bearer of God / "Treasure beyond corruption" 145

14A Ode for the Church / "Amazing song" 155

14A Var Canticle for the Nativity (Ode for the Church) / "Amazing song" 161

15 Litany for the Holy Cross / "Treasure ineffable" 164 15A Ode for the Holy Cross / "I speak of the Lion's roar" 170

16 Litany for All the Holy Apostles / "Treasure of the glorious mystery" 172


1 Ode for the Resurrection / "That (small) cart" 183

2.1 Praise for the Temple of Solomon / "Hosts from above" 190

2.1 Var Ode for the Church and the Holy Temple / "Hosts from above" 195

2.2 Ode for the Holy Cross / "I go up to Jerusalem' 197

2.3 Alternate / "I yearn to be on the cross" 199

2.3 Var Alternate / "I yearn to be on the cross" 202

2.4 Ode for the Coming of the Holy Spirit / "With melodious voice" 204

2.5 Litany for All the Apostles and Hierarchs / "Treasure so awesome and amazing" 207

3.1 Ode <for the Theophany> / "The Virgin was in the cave" 213

3.2 Ode for the Holy Resurrection / "The swiftly moving waters" 218


History of the Holy Cross of Aparank' (1) 223

Encomium on the Holy Cross / Recension A (2.1) 244

Encomium, on the Holy Cross / Recension B (2.2) 266

Encomium on the Holy Virgin / Recension A (3.1) 288

Encomium on the Holy Virgin / Recension B (3.2) 307

Encomium on the Holy Apostles (4) 326

Encomium on Saint James of Nisibis: A Discourse of Praise (5) 344


A Gregory of Narek's Colophons 365

1 Colophon in a Manuscript of His Father's Commentary on the Divine Liturgy 365

2 Colophon to Commentary on Song of Songs 366

3 Colophon to Encomium on the Holy Virgin 367

4 Colophon to Book of Lamentation 371

B Gregory of Narek's Biography Nerses of Lambron 373

C Reason for Anathematizing Khosrov, Bishop of Andzewats'ik', by Lord Anania (of Mokk') Catholicos of the Armenians 375

Genealogical Tables

A Narekats'i and His Kin 378

B Bishops of the District of Mokk' 379

Bibliography 381

Scripture Index 397

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