Orthodox liturgical texts in the Kyrgyz language
June 15, 2020

IBT has published a unique collection of Orthodox liturgical texts in the Kyrgyz language, including musical notation for performance. This is IBT’s first-ever publication of this kind. Most of the 1,000 copies printed will go to the Kyrgyz diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bishkek, since this edition was produced in response to a request of Bishop Daniel of the Kyrgyz diocese.

IBT’s consultant for the Kyrgyz liturgy project, Dr. Alexei Somov, told us how the translation of liturgical texts was different from translating the Bible: “Usually IBT translates Psalms from the original language, which is Hebrew. However, the Russian Orthodox Church uses the Church Slavonic text, based on the Septuagint, a translation of Psalms into ancient Greek, in its liturgy. This is why any translation of the liturgical Six Psalms must in both form and meaning be based on the Slavonic and Greek translations of the Psalms. Besides that, the language of liturgy is more conservative and elevated than the language of the Bible, which is intended for reading at home. This is the reason why the Russian translation of the Liturgy by P. A. Yungerov was chosen as the source text for the Psalms, and the Russian Synodal translation became the source text for the Gospel texts in the liturgy. These texts were checked against liturgical books in Greek, while distinct features of the Slavic worship tradition were also taken into consideration.”

Translation of liturgical texts, which are designed for communal singing to melodies well known in the Orthodox world, demanded that the translation team acquire a completely new set of skills. Special attention had to be paid not only to accuracy in the translation, but also to sound collocations and rhythmic patterns. According to the philological editor of the Kyrgyz liturgy project, “We worked together with the choirmaster of St. Vladimir’s Cathedral in Bishkek. We checked the translation together with her several times. We discussed changes that would make the translation more suitable for singing without affecting its meaning. Our work on the Six Psalms was my first attempt at imbuing the translation of a poetic biblical text with a distinct rhythm. I believe it will greatly help me when we begin translating the full book of Psalms in our OT translation project.”

Once the translation and the music of the liturgy were ready, the choir of St. Vladimir’s Cathedral prepared the full audio recording of the liturgy sung in the Kyrgyz language. The resulting CD, titled “Orthodox Liturgical Singing”, will be distributed together with the book.

The PDF version of this publication can be found on the IBT’s web page in the section for electronic publications.