In 1947, Father Julius Grigassy of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Exarchate of Pittsburgh – the predecessor to the current Archeparchy – published a little booklet of “devotions” for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This booklet was republished by the Archeparchy in 1968.
For Christmas Eve, it gives the liturgical services (not private devotions, in spite of the title) of Great Compline, Litija, and Matins. The Great Compline portion of the booklet is highly abbreviated, and in fact is almost exactly what was published in English by Father William Levkulic as the Christ is Born! booklet in 1969. (The Grigassy booklet is in Slavonic, with a parallel English translation; at its original publication in 1947, the English would not have been used in church.)
But today the second part of the booklet is of particular interest: the “devotions for New Year” consist of a Moleben of Thanksgiving, returning thanks to God for all that has taken place in the year just ending, and a Panachida, praying for all those who have died. You can find the Moleben of Thanksviging here on the MCI website.
It seems to me that we would all benefit from such a service as the year ends, and I hope to promote its celebration next December.
At the back of the booklet is a short collection of spiritual songs for Christmas:
- Silent Night / Jasna Zorja
- Nebo i Zem’la
- Božij Syn Dnes’
- Divnaja Novina
- Nova Radost’ Stala
- Vselennaja Veselisja
- Radost Sja Nam Javl’ajet
- Nyňi Adam Vozveselisja
- Anhel Pastyrjam ‘Zv’istil
- Čas Radosti, Veselosti
- Dar Ňyňi Prebohatyj
The songs in bold face were included in Christ is Born! and the 1978 Divine Liturgies book and have remained parish favorites, while the others have largely fallen out of use. (You can find Nyňi Adam Vozveselisja and Vselennaja Veselisja, along with new, singable English translations, in the proposed hymnal.)
And for New Years:
- Blahodarim Boha (labelled “for God the King”)
- Vs’i Ta Chory (labelled “to the Holy Trinity”)
Both of these are still sung in our parishes – and both have additional verses here which will be included in the proposed hymnal. (We have English translations of the new verses for Vs’i T’a chory, and are working on them for Blahodarim Boha – particularly worthwhile because this is one of our only hymns to God the Father.)
May God bless your New Year!