“I Confess with Faith”
St. Nerses IV the Gracious (1102 – 1173)
St. Nerses, illustration of 19th century, Mekhitarists’ printing house, Venice
“Havadov Khosdovanim” prayer in more than 36 languages
The prayer in its authentic form was first published in 1790 by the printing house of Mekhitarists congregation in San Lazzaro, Venice. Within the years 1818 – 1882, the Mekhitarists published the “Havadov Khosdovanim” prayer translated into several other languages. In the edition of 1818, the prayer was translated into 16 languages. In 1823, the prayer was translated into 24 languages in total. Whilst, the 1837 edition was enriched with 3 more translations.
In 1862, “Havadov Khosdovanim” was already translated into 33 languages. While, in the 1871 and 1882 editions, there were introduced 3 more languages, raising the total number of translations up to 36. The 1882 publication is probably the most comprehensive collection of its kind. In the 1882 edition are based most of the books and the collections related to St. Nerses Shnorhali “Havadov Khosdovanim” prayer, that have been ever since published.
At the first half of 19th century Mekhitarists were concentrated on the translation of the most widely known languages of the time. Translations into Greek, Latin, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Nederlands and Magyar appear in all 1818 – 1882 editions. In the 1818 – 1823 editions, a version in Western Armenian is also included. In all editions, the translations into Greek and Latin precede on all other languages, appearing right after the original Armenian text.
There are also translations into Turkish, Tatar, Georgian, Persian, and Arabic, representing those regions where the Armenians have had a long-standing historical presence. It is notable that in the 1818 edition only, translations in Turkish and Tatar are published in armenian script. Perhaps, this was done in order to facilitate those readers of armenian descent, who were living in the several regions of Ottoman Empire. There are also translations into Hebrew/Aramaic, Assyrian, Chaldean and Ethiopian/Amharic. In this way, a tribute is paid to the history, the role and the significance of the Oriental Christian Churches.
In the 1837 edition, a translation into Chinese appears for the first time. Very interesting is also the fact that in the more recent editions appear translations into Malay, Keralam and Sanscrit, referring to regions of very little or no Armenian presence. In 1862 edition, a translation into Portuguese is published for the first time. In the 1862 – 1882 editions, there also appear translations into several Nordic and Celtic languages. In those collections, there are included translations into Gaelic and Cantabrian as well. It is very astounding, that the work of St. Nerses Shnorhali has reached, as early as in 1862, so far distant places, such as Iceland and Greenland.
Since the very beginning, in the 1818 edition, there are translations of this prayer into Serbian and Slovenian. Translations into Russian, as well as into most of Eastern European and Balkan languages appear later, on the 1823 – 1882 editions. Nevertheless, no translations have been recorded in the 19th century, into Bulgarian, Czech or Slovakian. On the contrary, several Balkan dialects appear on the 1862 – 1882 editions, such as Wallachian, Illyrian and Albano -Gheghish ! raising the total number of translations up to 36.
Nowadays, many publications can be found from several sources, which are either reproductions of the existing translations, or newer versions worthy to be mentioned and to be studied further. Apart from the original Armenian script in the classical “grabar” form (Գրաբար), available are also several translations into Modern Armenian, “ashkharabar” form (Աշխարհաբար), in both Western and Eastern Armenian dialects.
By taking into account the total of those published works, it is the main purpose of this site to honour and highlight the significance and the great impact of the work of St. Nerses Shnorhali over the Christian world and through the centuries.
“Havadov Khosdovanim” prayer in Greek
A translation of “Havadov Khosdovanim” into Byzantine Greek was published in 19th century by the Mekhitarists order in Venice. It is one of the 36 languages in which the prayer has been translated. It is included in all 1818 – 1882 editions. The translated text bears, in most publications, the title “Graece” (in latin), and always appears first in the series, after the original Armenian text.
Byzantine Greek or “Koine” (in Greek: Ελληνιστική Κοινή) is the literary form of Greek language that prevailed during Byzantine times. It is also the language of the Septuagint (the 3rd century Greek translation of the Bible), and the language of most Orthodox Christian theological writings. It continues to be used as the liturgical language in the Greek Orthodox Church.
A version in 19th century formal Greek known as “Katharevousa” (in Greek: Καθαρεύουσα) has been included in the 1818 – 1823 editions. This is a form of Greek language conceived in the early 19th century as a compromise between Ancient Greek and the Modern Greek of the time. Originally, it was widely used both for literary and official purposes, though rarely used as everyday language.
Modern Greek or “Dimotiki” (in Greek: Δημοτική) is the modern vernacular form of the Greek language. It is the everyday spoken language in Greece. In its contemporary form, it has become the official language of the Greek nation. As long as no translation into Modern Greek has been recorded so far, it was a great opportunity for me to translate “Havadov Khosdovanim” prayer into Modern contemporary Greek. The translation is presented on this site, with the ultimate purpose to make it available to everyone.
St. Nerses, illustration from 19th century