Handbook of ROCOR Liturgical Practice:

What editions / translations of the Divine Services are to be used?

While the ready access to varying editions of liturgical texts is now widespread (both in Church Slavonic as well as in other languages), their availability has led to a variety of different texts, editions and translations being employed in various places, many of which do not accord with the Holy Synod’s blessed version of liturgical commemorations or petitions, or with our liturgical practice or language more generally.

For this reason, in our churches only the most current editions of service books published by, or bearing the blessing of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, shall be used for those Divine Services where such books are available. In practical terms, this means in most cases the current editions (in Church Slavonic) published either in Munich or in Jordanville, and (in English) the editions published chiefly in Jordanville, West Virginia, or by other ROCOR printers and bearing the Synod’s formal blessing. This should be taken explicitly to exclude the use of service books in either language that come from other sources, for which Synodally-approved versions are available. Where no ROCOR editions of a service exist, or are no longer in print, the Diocesan Bishop should be approached for a blessing as to an alternative to be used in its stead.

In the use of these books, the translations are to be used as printed, without alterations to phrasing, verbiage or translation. The only exceptions to this rule are to be alterations to the text approved by the Diocesan Hierarch, based on local circumstance not covered in the books (such as the petition commemorating the monarchy in portions of our Diocese where this applies, etc.), which are to be used in the forms blessed and laid out in a Diocesan Decree.

Under no circumstances are alterations to phrasing or vocabulary to be made by individual clerics; should a question be raised about such matters in specific instances, these should be addressed to the Bishop but no alterations to the printed forms employed without his blessing.

A particular note on work yet to be done in the English language: We note that there remains considerable work to be done on the matter of English-language translation as pertains to consistency of usage. While in most other modern languages there are commonly-accepted translations used by all, in English there is a near-cacophony of different and idiosyncratic translations (some with much to recommend them, some without), at times so varied in implementation that almost no two parishes are praying in the same words. This we wish to avoid at all costs, as a common language of prayer is an integral part of our united life. While much work indeed needs to be done with respect to both refinement of language and the local requirements of differing cultures — upon which we intend to work via labours within the Diocese — until such time as revisions are blessed and issued by the Holy Synod, the existing English-language editions, in their existing translations, are to be used as they are printed for the sake of fostering a ‘common tongue’ in our prayer across all parishes within our Diocesan community.