Book of Lamentations
Book of Prayers, Constantinople, 1726
Тhe work by Narekatsi is a tempest of feeling twisting in the eternity, and I don’t know any other more powerful work. It has pages in which our poet has reached the force of prophets and pages in which one can sense the spirit of Shakespeare. This work is all mysticism and all lyrics… And Narekatsi had reached the rare state in which he was already suspended of the world, as if he was in a life above the earth and outside the body, there where the earthly things are transformed and where an unearthly vision begins. Narekatsi has seen God.
The way of self-purification is sincere confession of sins and that is what the poet chose, aspiring to clean with verbal seal the ichors accumulated in the mortal wound of his heart, to get free from bitterness amassed with soul pain.
The Prayer book entitled "The Book of Lamentations" is the crown of Narekatsi’s creation and it was translated into many languages. There are several translations into Eastern and Western Armenian languages (Eastern Armenian translations made by Mkrtich Kheranian and Vazgen Gevorkian, Western Armenian translations made by Bishop Torgom Gushakian, Bishop Garegin Trapezoni and Misak Gochunian). Manuscript copies (not counting manuscript fragments) are more than 150. The work was published in Ancient Armenian language (more than 60 times), in Modern Armenian (Eastern and Western Armenian) and was also translated into many foreign languages (French, English, Arabic, Italian, German, Spanish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, etc.). Beginning with the second half of the 13th century, it was also commented many times
In the Middle Ages people considered "The Book of Lamentations" or "Narek" as “healing the life” and tried with its help to purify the soul, get free from sins and access to perfection. Healing power was attributed to the book, its author‘s name was sanctified and it was believed to be intercessor before God for “sinful souls”. All the book’s chapters got a practical significance to be read during a special sickness, a special event or accident. Such lists appeared in medieval manuscript copies of the book or its early printed issues.
- Alfred Schnittke, Concerto for Choir. performed by the Chamber Choir of the Moscow Conservatory
- The Book of Lamentation, translated by Mekertich Kheranian, performed by Sos Sargsyan
- The Book of Lamentation, Selected Parts, Part I, translated by Vazgen Gevorkyan. performed by Sarkis Najaryan
- The Book of Lamentation, Selected Parts, Part II, translated by Vazgen Gevorkyan. performed by Sarkis Najaryan
- The Book of Lamentation, in Russian. performed by Oleg Molenko
Book of Prayers, Constantinople, 1701
Below you can see the texts in Grabar of prayers from The Book of Lamentation according to the critical text composed by P. Khachatrian and A. Ghazinian, and published in Yerevan in 1895. For easier reading, all the diphthong “աւ”- in the close syllables are replaced by the letter “o”-.