May 16, 2019
FRAMINGHAM, MA — The Eastern Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly (NRA), hosted by St. Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, convened this afternoon, May 16. The Clergy conference began yesterday. The theme of this year’s Assembly is “Re-Engage and Re-Discover Your Church.”

Concurrent with the Assembly, the annual conference of the National Association of Ladies Guilds (NALG) will take place. Elected to serve as chairmen of this year’s Assembly were Aram Sarafian and Simone' Topouzian, and secretaries Der Torkom Chorbajian (Armenian) and Andrew Asadorian (English). Words of welcome were offered by Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian, pastor of the host parish as well as by Raffi Samkiranian, chairman of the Board of Trustees. Rev. Fr. Aved Terzian, pastor of the Armenian Church of Our Saviour of Worcester, Massachusetts offered a message on behalf of Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).

In his keynote address Archbishop Anoushavan thanked the host community for undertaking the responsibility of hosting this year’s Assembly.

In his address to the assembly, Archbishop Anoushavan spoke of challenges facing the church and said "these challenges will require serious discussion and follow up."

Next week’s Crossroads will include full coverage of the NRA along with a photo gallery.

Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir
Retired Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant
His Beatitude Cardinal Moran Mor Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, retired Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant, died on Sunday, May 12 in Lebanon, three days shy of his 99 th birthday. Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the former patriarch of Lebanon’s Maronite church was a champion of Christian rights and was a strong voice of reason during the fifteen years of civil strife in Lebanon. Prime Minister Saad ak-Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, announced two days of national mourning, with flags flown at half mast. The funeral, which took place today, Thursday, May 16, was declared a holiday.

Archbishop Anoushavan, who was preparing to travel to Massachusetts for the Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly, spoke with and sent a letter of condolence to Bishop Gregory Mansour, Eparch of the Maronite Church of the Eastern United States, on behalf of the Eastern Prelacy. In his letter he praised the Patriarch for his leadership and steadfast service to his church and people.

The Maronite Church, which follows an Eastern rite of the Roman Catholic Church, is Lebanon’s largest Christian community. Cardinal Sfeir was elected patriarch in 1986 and was invested as a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994. He served as patriarch until February 2011.

May our risen Lord remember his servant on his day of judgment.

A Note about the Readings:  Beginning on Monday April 29 and continuing until Pentecost (June 9) each day the four Gospels are read in the following order: 1) Morning—Luke; 2) Midday—John; 3) Evening—Matthew; 4) Evening dismissal—Mark. By Pentecost the four gospels are read up to the passion narratives.

Bible readings for Sunday, May 19 , are: Readings for the Apparition of the Cross (morning) Galatians 6:14-18; Matthew 24:30-36. (1) Luke 11:33-12:12; (2) Acts 17:1-15; 1 John 1:1-10; John 7:14-23; (3) Matthew 13:53-58; John 19:25-30; (4) Mark 6:30-44.

“. . .then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:30-36)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

This Sunday (May 19) the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Apparition of the Holy Cross ( Yerevoumun Sourp Khatchi ). The Apparition of the Cross is the first feast dedicated to the Holy Cross in the Armenian liturgical calendar. It is celebrated in remembrance of the appearance of the sign of the cross over the city of Jerusalem in 351 that remained in the sky for several hours. The apparition extended from Golgotha to the Mount of Olives (about two miles), and was brighter than the sun and was seen by everyone in Jerusalem. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cyril, used this occasion to remind Emperor Constantius of Byzantium of his father’s (Constantine the Great) orthodox faith. Cyril claimed the Apparition was further reason to return to orthodoxy.

Traditionally, the Armenian translation of Cyril’s message is read on this feast day during the Antastan service prior to the Gospel lection. The Apparition is celebrated by the Armenian and Greek churches. The Greeks observe it on the fixed date of May 7, while the Armenian date is moveable depending on the date of Easter. It is celebrated on the fifth Sunday of Easter.

Cyril is a revered Doctor of the Church and he is remembered in the Armenian Church’s liturgical calendar. Here is a short excerpt from Cyril’s letter about the apparition.

“In those holy days of the Easter season, on 7 May at about the third hour, a huge cross made of light appeared in the sky above holy Golgotha extending as far as the holy Mount of Olives. It was not revealed to one or two people alone, but it appeared unmistakably to everyone in the city. It was as if one might conclude that one had suffered a momentary optical illusion; it was visible to the human eye above the earth for several hours. The flashes it emitted outshone the rays of the sun, which would have outshone and obscured it themselves if it had not presented the watchers with a more powerful illumination than the sun. It prompted the whole populace at once to run together into the holy church, overcome both with fear and joy at the divine vision. Young and old, men and women of every age, even young girls confined to their rooms at home, natives and foreigners, Christians and pagans visiting from abroad, all together as if with a single voice raised a hymn of praise to God’s Only-Begotten Son the wonder-worker. They had the evidence of their own senses that the holy faith of Christians is not based on the persuasive arguments of philosophy but on the revelation of the Spirit and power; it is not proclaimed by mere human beings but testified from heaven by God Himself.”
(Excerpt from Saint Cyril’s letter about the Apparition of the Cross)

Plans are underway for the 33 rd annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program, a unique Christian educational program for youth ages 13-18. Sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the weeklong program will be held at St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from June 30 to July 7, 2019. For information and registration, please click here .

Karine Poghosyan, who in 2004 was one of the featured musicians at the Prelacy’s Musical Armenia concert in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, will be performing in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall with “Music of My Soul,” a program that many consider to be her most authentic yet. The concert is scheduled for Thursday, May 30 at 7:30 pm. Karine will perform some of her beloved signature works including Falla’s Fantasia Betica and Khachaturian’s Adagio from Spartacus, as well as several compositions by Liszt. Described as “The Powerhouse Pianist,” the award-winning pianist has been praised for her “ability to get to the heart of the works she performs.”

Since her Musical Armenia performance fifteen years ago, which was a smashing success, she has been performing in many different music venues and garnering critical acclaim and recognition. This May 30 th concert in Zankel Hall, where she has previously appeared in concert, is being presented by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations.

Tickets are $20 to $40, and can be purchased at the Carnegie Hall Box office, 57 th Street and Seventh Avenue, as well as at CarnegieCharge 212-247-7800; or
Birth of Kourken Alemshah (May 22, 1907)
Kourken Alemshah was a well-established, even if prematurely disappeared Armenian composer of the Diaspora in the first half of the past century.

He was born in Bardizag (now Bahcecik), an Armenian village near Izmit, in Western Turkey, on May 22, 1907. He studied at the Mekhitarist School in the neighborhood of Pera (now Beyoglu), in Constantinople, and graduated in 1918. Afterwards, he entered the Moorat-Raphael (Mourad-Raphaelian) School of the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice, graduating in 1923. He had already shown his talent as a pianist at school, and he pursued musical studies at the Milan Conservatory. His professors saw in him an exceptional talent, unique inspiration, and the ability to mix Oriental music and popular motifs to European technique.

Alemshah graduated in 1930 and settled in Paris, where he taught at the Samuel-Moorat (Samuel Mouradian) school of the Mekhitarists in the suburb of Sevres, as well as in Italian high schools. Along his prolific labor as composer, he also organized the “Cilicia” choir, which became a well-known choir in the big Armenian community of France. In 1933, at the age of twenty-six, he was elected member of the Association of Musical Authors, Composers, and Editors of France. In the 1930s, he composed many works of European inspiration under the pseudonym of Jean Valdonne.

It was particularly impressive a concert of the “Cilicia” choir he directed in 1934 at Salle Gaveau, in Paris, with more than 1,000 people in the audience. Along works by Komitas, he premiered his “Oriental Nights,” composed in 1931 and the vocal-orchestral work “The Battle of Avarayr” (1934). In 1936, on the centennial of his alma mater, the Moorat-Raphael School, he took his choir to Venice and gave concerts both in the famed hall of the school and the St. Mark Square, presenting Komitas songs and his own songs on popular motifs. In 1937 his work “Armenian Wedding,” a combination of Alemshah’s music with popular songs, won the second prize at the international competition of People’s Music, with the participation of twenty nations.

He later conducted the choir “Alakiaz” from 1938-1939, and was appointed conductor of the Sipan Komitas choir from 1939 until his death. He conducted Armen Tigranian’s “Anoush” opera and the performances of the Divine Liturgy in a number of French cathedrals.

In the fall of 1947, Alemshah visited the United States for a series of presentations. In October he conducted a concert at Town Hall in New York City, devoted to Armenian orchestral and choral music. He passed away unexpectedly on December 14, 1947, in Detroit, from a heart attack, a day before his scheduled performance. His funeral was held in New York by the Armenian Catholic clergy, with the participation of the choir of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. His body was sent to France and buried in Paris.
Some of his vocal scores were published in Paris in 1947. His songs, which are still part of musical programs, are characterized by rare emotional intensity.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( ).
How the Lake Came from a Leak
The lakes Michigan and Sevan are separated by enormous distances, but the word “lake” makes them closer.

As you may have guessed, this is because English “lake” and Armenian  լիճ (lij)  come from the same source. They are second cousins, so to speak.

The original source for both words is the mother language of the Indo-European family, also called Proto-Indo-European (PIE). As we know, PIE is composed by reconstructed roots and words and the terms are represented with an asterisk, since there are hypothesized to have existed according to comparative evidence.

Now, we have the PIE word  *lokus  (“lake, pond”), from which we have, for instance, Latin  lacus  (“lake”), which has given origin to the English word “lacuna,” for instance. But, despite what you would expect (looksare always deceiving), “lake” and  lacus  are unrelated.
The origin of the English word must be traced back to the PIE word  *   leǵ-,  meaning “to leak.” This word had two derivations in Proto-Germanic (the “mother” of all Germanic languages, including English):  *leqana  (“to leak”) and  *lakō  (“stream, pool”). The former yielded Old English  lecan  and English “leak,” while the latter brought Old English  laku  and English  lake.

What about Armenian  lij ? The same PIE root  *   leǵ-  appears to have yielded the secondary form  *lēgyeh , from which  lij  ( lich  in Classical Armenian) may have derived.

By the way, there is a rare Armenian word that also means “lake” and sounds much closer to “lake” and “leak”:  լիկ  ( lik ). It also means “lake, basin” and come from the same root  *   leǵ-  It is so rare that it has only been attested in one Classical Armenian source: the translation of the  Alexander Romance,  an entertaining story about real and imaginary episodes in the life of Alexander the Great. It was translated from the original Greek into many languages, and the translation into Armenian, whose author is unknown, is from the fifth century A.D.

How  lik  and  lij  came from the same word? This is why linguists many times are in disagreement, until some new information comes to shed light. Or, if nothing comes out, we will have to live with the disagreement forever.

We remind everyone that the deadline to receive copy and photographs for publication in Thursday’s Crossroads electronic newsletter is Wednesday at noon. Your cooperation will permit us to issue Crossroads on a timely schedule.

( Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style )
SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: or 212-689-7810.

May 16-18 —National Representative Assembly of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, hosted by St. Asdvatzadzin Church of Whitinsville, MA.

May 30 —“Music of My Soul” by Karine Poghosyan, piano, Zankel Hall, 7:30 pm. Carnegie Hall Box Office 212-247-7800.

June 15 —Patriotic Songs by Karnig Sarkissian and performance by Hamazkayin’s Nayiri Dance Ensemble and Arekag Chorus, honor of First Republic of Armenia, 7:30 pm, Assyrian Orthodox Church of Virgin Mary, Paramus, NJ. For information: or

June 30-July 7 —33 rd St. Gregory of Datev Summer Institute (ages 13-19) at St. Mary of Providence Center, Elverson, PA. Sponsored by Eastern Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). Information: or 212-689-7810.

October 9-12 —On the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Translators a joint clergy conference of the Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies will convene in Montebello, CA.

October 12 —Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, NJ continues celebration of 60 th anniversary with Elie Berberian and his band. Information: 201-943-2950.

October 19 —Armenian Friends of America Annual Hye Kef 5 Dance, featuring The Vosbikians, at Double Tree by Hilton, Andover, MA. For information: Sharke’ Der Apkarian at 978-808-0598; John Arzigian at 603-560-3826.

November 17 —SAVE THE DATE for 150 th anniversary of birth of Gomidas Vartabed, organized by the Eastern Prelacy. Details will follow.

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