Comme il faut
A Look at English Qurbana
by Susan Eapen, Bangalore
somewhere about 'comme il faut' and 'pas comme il faut"- 'as it should
be' and 'not as it should be.'
We all have, said the author, many attachments. Some are the attachment
to people, places, and things external. They can influence us and even
keep us in bondage. But greater than these are the bondages of
attachments to things internal-concepts and notions that are within
which have been inculcated in us through our education, training,
Tolstoy was a prisoner to 'comme il faut'- 'as it should be'-, and he
said 'My 'comme il faut' meant, above all, to be able to speak and
pronounce French with absolute perfection. Anyone who pronounced French
badly fell instantly in disgrace before me. My ruthless reaction within
was, "If you are not able to speak properly, don't speak with me at
The second condition for a proper comme il faut had to do with
fingernails---' and thus he goes on.
Mostly, it is our 'comme il faut'- that Liturgy in English is not proper
Liturgy that Malayalm is 'as it should be', that makes us oppose English
Liturgy. Sometimes it is, Like Tolstoy, a matter of the pronunciation.
Here, I wish to raise one question. There was a time when most of the
Liturgy was in Syriac. I am sure there would have been opposition to the
Malayalam services in the beginning. But now we are comfortable with it.
We understand it and we participate more meaningfully. However, many of
us are not willing to challenge the comfort of familiarity further, for
the sake of our next generation.
Yesterday, the Church which I attend had its monthly English Service
lead by the Vicar himself. He may not be a perfect English man, but what
he said, we could easily follow and he was good. The Choir is really
good, and even my 'comme il faut' could find no fault there. The songs
and tunes are arranged such that the words are not unnecessarily split
into meaningless jumble, but are grouped meaningfully. I saw that many
were trying to follow the tunes, even middle aged pucca Malayali Moms
like me. Soon we will learn and be comfortable with it, if we try with
an open mind.
The monthly English Qurbana is for our English Speaking Youth. I even
saw someone's European/American wife there.
The Key Board was as essential as the Thamburu is to a concert in
Carnatic Music, giving sruthi and arranging the Thaalam. There was no
jazz or Reggae or Rock.
There are traditions that are timeless and we should not disturb them,
however there are customs that were in tandem with the times and we need
to adapt these a bit. How many of our children grow in the exact
environment of our growth? Do we give them the food we ate, the
attention we got from parents and grandparents, the same pastimes, the
same stories, the same lifestyles, the same country? When we do not, can
we question their need for English Liturgy?
Are we not selfish? Are we not suffocating the future life of the