Saturday, November 15, 2008

Say "Wadi Kishon" ten times real fast

Around the globe today in congregations that use the Revised Common Lectionary and as the 27th Sunday after Pentecost approaches, there are lectors (including me) quaking in their boots with their noses in Bible dictionaries online or otherwise practicing pronunciation. What were we thinking of when we abandoned the lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer that specifies a pleasant Old Testament reading from Zephaniah?

Instead, we have this from Judges (4:1-7): The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. So the LORD sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years.

At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you, `Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.'"

It's one thing to read this passage or others silently to yourself in your living room or favorite pew; quite another to ascend to the lectern and suddenly realize, looking out over the congregation, that you have no idea how to pronounce THAT word. Like "Harosheth-ha-goiim."

I know another lector who when completely flummoxed, just spells it out. Most of us make up a pronunciation and use it decisively, right or wrong. At St. John's it also would be possible to feign a faint, drop gently beghind the solid wood lectern rail, crawl out through the choir loft then exit through a side door into the courtyard and drive away.

I'm sure we'll all be fine. The Word of the Lord? Thanks be to God for pronouncing dictionaries!

1 comment:

Ed Abbey said...

The lectors at our church seem to favor pronouncing it decively wrong and sticking with it.

Along the same lines, it always saddens me when a parent gives their child some hard to pronounce name these days sentencing them to a lifetime of repeating and spelling it. I guess they didn't worry about that either in biblical times.