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Choral Corner #11: The Languages of the Augmented Litany

Q: Why does the choir often sing the Augmented Litany responses in many different languages, and what are those languages?


A:  Singing this litany in many languages emphasizes our communion with Orthodox Christians throughout the world, in every time and place — and beyond time, as well. At St. Mark’s, we currently use two multi-lingual arrangements; one uses six languages, and the other even more. Here is the list:

English: Lord have mercy

Greek: Kyrie eleison (KEE-ree-eh eh-LE-zon)

Slavonic: Ghospodi pomilui (GHO-spo-di po-MI-lui)

Romanian: Doamne milujeshte (DWA-mne mi-lu-YEH-shte)

Georgian: Upalo shegvitskale (U-PA-lo sheh-gvi-tska-leh)

Spanish: Señor, ten piedad (SE-ñor ten pjE-dad)

Amharic: Mahara a amlach (MA-ha-ra a A-mlakh) (the final consonant is gutteral and rhymes with the last       name of the German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach). 

Aleutian dialect: Uospodak nakklikikuk (WO-spo-dock na-kli-KI-kook)

Arabic: Yā Rabbu hram (YA-ra BU-hrum) (the “hr” consonant is gutteral, so the final syllable sounds sort       of like the English word “crumb” said by someone who can’t quite commit to the hard “C”).

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