Deciphering the Hymn

Armodoxy for Today: Deciphering the Hymn

The Theology of the Armenian Apostolic, and therefore Orthodox, Church is embedded in its hymns. The hymn, referred to as Sharagan, holds a wealth of ancient wisdom that is a treasury preserved for us from the time of Christ. Over a thousand hymns are compiled into a book called the Sharagnots, which describes the fellowship between God and His creation.

Access to the Sharagnots is complicated by the language in which the hymns are written, and while there are translations from the Classical Armenian to the colloquial language and even to non-Armenian languages, the mystical flavor of the Church is tied in with the melodies of the chants as well as the sacred environment where they have taken form. Inside of a monastery or a church, within the incense filled space and candle-smoked walls, the words of the shargans dance to the rhythms of monastics vocal cords and theology is deciphered and delivered holistically.

The last sharagan was written in 2015, at the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. On April 24, 2015, the martyrs of the Genocide were canonized and are referred to as a Saints.

The translation of the Sharagan, opens a window into the understanding of the martyrs as saints.

“Astonished and appalled were the heavenly armies and with terror were petrified,” begins the sharagan, and continues to describe the desecration of God’s holiness by using the unique and singular pointer of Eden to Armenia.

“The nations upon seeing the ancient Eden, changed into the scene and arena of fire, blazing like Hell, of the passion of Cain, and the new sacrifice of this new Abel, whose blood speaks forever.

The Sharagan ends with the question posed earlier by the Psalmist and be humankind for millennia, “Sovereign Lord, holy and true! How long will it be until You judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

Let us pray, Lord our God, allow me to celebrate the Mystery of Life, with my soul, my voice, and all my senses. Help me as I accept Your invitation to follow with my heart and accordingly decipher the instruction of Love. Amen.

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