Tuesday, September 21 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Armenia.
The rebirth of the Armenian homeland is one of the most momentous developments in the history of the Armenian people. Armenia’s citizens voted for independence from the Soviet Union on September 21, 1991. The resulting free republic became a member of the United Nations on March 2, 1992.
To honor that milestone, parishes of the Eastern Diocese will conduct the “Thanksgiving Prayer for the Republic of Armenia” on Sunday, September 19.
In more typical times, the occasion is marked by celebrations in the Armenian republic and in our communities across the diaspora. This year, of course, our hearts are focused with intensity on the wellbeing of Armenia and Artsakh, the health and safety of our people, and the enduring security of our homeland. Our prayers in this cause have never been so urgent—or so meaningful.
In spite of all worldly impediments, may our risen Lord bestow his eternal grace upon our homeland, and keep it strong under his loving protection. May He bless the souls of all who have sacrificed in its cause, and guide all its citizens—our brothers and sisters of Armenia and Artsakh—in their ongoing, heroic effort to secure a decent, prosperous, peaceful and just society.
The Thanksgiving Prayer
The Thanksgiving Prayer Service for the Republic of Armenia is offered on the anniversary of the independence of the current Republic of Armenia (September 21) or on the Sunday closest to that date. It was actually compiled in the 1920s, with a view to the first Armenian republic.
While the hymns for the service were selected from the Armenian Church hymnal, the prayers were original compositions by Archbishop Torkom Koushagian, the late Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem (1931-1939), who at the time was the Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Egypt. What follows is an English translation of the main thanksgiving prayer.
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O Lord our God, listen to the voice of supplications of your servants and keep unshaken the Republic of Armenia, which you restored through the grace of your mercy.
Increase the grace of wisdom to those who are at the helm of the state, namely the nationally elected president, all the ministers and the entire order of the government, so that they may correctly lead your people to righteousness. Also grant to our generals and soldiers a greater spirit of valor. Plant in all of us love of holiness and good judgment in order to know wisdom and instruction and to fulﬁll our obligations towards the observance of all the laws that are intended for the beneﬁt our nation.
Hold out your merciful hand and bless our entire people, namely the Armenian nation, and the Armenian Church, so that a spirit of love, peace, understanding and divine worship would rest upon them.
Bless, O Lord, our ancestral land, so that the site where you ﬁrst established the blessed paradise—which the hands of the lawless had for many centuries thereafter turned into a desolated place—would again bloom with ﬂowers and glow for the enjoyment of all celestial and terrestrial goods. Bless, O Lord, everything that is good in it, and especially its appellation, the name “Armenia.”
Armenia: a coveted name, tender and aﬀecting in tone, which neither the tyrants of the world nor the vicissitudes of time could scrape and remove from our lips—and especially from our hearts. Let it resound now from one end of the world to the other, and let all the descendants of Haik who as émigrés are scattered in distant parts of the world come to her in ﬂocks with their young, for the Lord’s deliverance has come to us.
And you, O holy Armenian Church, our Mother, daughter of the New Sion, who for so many centuries carried us in your bosom as orphaned children, and fed us the milk of the holy Gospel with the hope of our deliverance: Rejoice and be happy! Remove the veil of your mourning and sorrow! Behold, your bridegroom has come! Rise to greet him; embrace him with a kiss, repeating with the crowned prophet David (Psalm 118:24):
This is the day which the Lord has made: let us exult and rejoice in it!