Sunday of the Prodigal Son

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#3
Would it be possible to say prodigally.Do you think it would sound better?
Hello Niko,

I'm afraid I don't understand your question. Could you say more, please?

-Gabriel

A P.S., unrelated to the above: for those interested in sources, my setting was based on the beautiful, elegant setting by Petros the Peloponnesian as found in his Doxastarion.

The version by Nikolaos of Smyrna is incredibly beautiful, and masterfully executed by my teacher, but far too difficult for my vocal abilities, not too mention lack of expressiveness. It did provide some inspiration for the final alternate line, though. :)
 
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Maragkos Nikos

Ως ο άσωτος υιός ήλθον καγω Οικτιρμων...
#4
Hello Niko,

I'm afraid I don't understand your question. Could you say more, please?

-Gabriel

A P.S., unrelated to the above: for those interested in sources, my setting was based on the beautiful, elegant setting by Petros the Peloponnesian as found in his Doxastarion.

The version by Nikolaos of Smyrna is incredibly beautiful, and masterfully executed by my teacher, but far too difficult for my vocal abilities, not too mention lack of expressiveness. It did provide some inspiration for the final alternate line, though. :)
Hello friend I'm asking whether prodigally exists as a word because there the text is written like the prodigal son I spent the wealth you gave me if it would be better to be written Prodigally I spent the wealth you gave me saying it is written in Greek books of church.Thank you for your posts I m interested in learning to chant in English-language.
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#5
Hello friend I'm asking whether prodigally exists as a word because there the text is written like the prodigal son I spent the wealth you gave me if it would be better to be written Prodigally I spent the wealth you gave me saying it is written in Greek books of church.Thank you for your posts I m interested in learning to chant in English-language.
Good afternoon, Niko,

"Prodigally" is, in fact, an English word (an adverb). It can be found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

The original Greek text (with the word in question) is as follows:


Πάτερ ἀγαθέ, ἐμακρύνθην ἀπὸ σοῦ μὴ ἐγκαταλίπῃς με, μηδὲ ἀχρεῖον δείξῃς τῆς βασιλείας σου· ὁ ἐχθρὸς ὁ παμπόνηρος ἐγύμνωσέ με, καὶ ᾖρέ μου τὸν πλοῦτον· τῆς ψυχῆς τὰ χαρίσματα ἀσώτως διεσκόρπισα, ἀναστὰς οὖν, ἐπιστρέψας πρὸς σὲ ἐκβοῶ· Ποίησόν με ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου, ὁ δι' ἐμὲ ἐν Σταυρῷ τὰς ἀχράντους σου χεῖρας ἁπλώσας, ἵνα τοῦ δεινοῦ θηρὸς ἀφαρπάσῃς με, καὶ τὴν πρώτην καταστολὴν ἐπενδύσῃς με, ὡς μόνος πολυέλεος.


The translation I used in my setting is from The Lenten Triodion of Archimandrite (now Metropolitan) Kallistos Ware and Mother Mary. The text is as follows (with the section in question in bold):


O loving Father, I have departed far from Thee; yet forsake me not, neither reject me from Thy Kingdom. The evil enemy has stripped me and taken all my wealth; I have wasted like the Prodigal the grace given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and to Thee I cry aloud: Make me as one of Thy hired servants. For my sake on the Cross Thou hast stretched out Thy sinless hands, to snatch me from the evil beast and to clothe me once again in my first raiment, for Thou alone art full of mercy.


Niko, the word ἀσώτως could indeed be translated "prodigally", as you described. Given that both words are adverbs in their respective languages, "prodigally" might be a more exact, literal translation. For whatever reason, - perhaps because the poetic text sounded better in English when ἀσώτως was rendered "like the Prodigal" - His Eminence and Mother Mary decided to translate it as they did.

One of the principles that I try to follow in composing in English is this: except in the case of:
a) a blatant error on the part of the translator, or
b) a word or phrase that presents extreme - I would perhaps even say insurmountable - difficulties when being set to music,

then the translator should have the last word. (Unless the translator was an amateur whose work can easily be shown to contain many, many errors.

In short: I do my absolute best not to alter the text of a hymn, troparion, psalm, etc, when I am using a translation found in a published book. If I use a text from The Lenten Triodion of Ware, I do not alter the text. If I use a text from a publication of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, I do not alter the text (partially because their kind permission for me to use their liturgical texts is under the condition that I do not alter them!).

An unfortunate tendency to alter translations to fit our personal preferences has been the de facto reality in liturgical English for a very long time. Of course, every translation has its advantages and disadvantages, and there is no such thing as a perfect translation. But when someone's work has been shown to be of high caliber, I don't think that person's work should be altered willy-nilly.

(On the other hand, when a publication like that of the liturgical books put out by Narthex Press contains multiple translation errors in almost every service, I think that someone who has a knowledge of the original language should definitely correct those mistakes and do whatever is necessary to make sure that the text is conveyed accurately!)

I think it's also worth mentioning that, with a few exceptions, composers in the original language (Greek) did not take it upon themselves to alter the poetic text that were handed on to them. We don't find that Petros the Peloponnesian's setting of this Doxastikon reads τῆς ψυχῆς τὰ χαρίσματα ἀσώτως διεσκόρπισα, while Stephanos the Lampadarios reads Ὡς τὸν Ἄσωτον διεσκόρπισα τῆς ψυχῆς τὰ χαρίσματα, etc. By and large, these composers preserved intact the poetic text that was given to them.

I'm not saying that a translation might not contain an error, or that something could be worded better. I do think, however, that we should respect the work of the translator and not go in and alter things at will. Rather, it would be better for us to simply create a new translation. (Of course, this is far more difficult.)

Personally, as a native English speaker, I find Metr. Kallistos and Mother Mary's translation to be quite poetic and very natural-sounding. It lacks the unending sentences of some translations and the Hellenizing tendencies of others, both of which can obscure the meaning of the text.

So, in short: ἀσώτως could indeed be translated "prodigally". But, for the reasons outlined above, I would be averse to changing it. :)

I'm glad you are interested in Byzantine Chant in English. Be sure to look at Fr. Ephraim of Arizona's website (by far the most complete, in terms of material), and also my own (though I have composed far less; I simply try to fill in the gaps in Fr. Ephraim's work).

-Gabriel
 
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