Professor Elena Nelson has taught Russian and Church Slavonic at Holy Trinity Seminary since 2013. She also teaches Church Slavonic at the Summer School of Liturgical Music.
Elena Nelson’s recent book, Tradition and Innovation in Russian Church Slavonic Hymnography, was published by Academica Press in November 2017. The publisher designated it a Featured Book.
This book analyses two waves of innovations in Church Slavonic. One, spanning the 16th-18th centuries, was a long and deliberate process, leading to the codification of Church Slavonic grammar and the renovation of liturgical texts. Another wave of innovations in Church Slavonic was incidental and took place following sudden upheaval, namely the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent emigration abroad of Orthodox Christians. Detached from traditional institutional structures, one result was freedom for the hymnographer to innovate. A substantial part of this book discusses and analyzes the 20th century compositions of Valeria Konstantinovna Hoecke, a self-taught hymnographer of the Russian diaspora. In both older and newer hymnography, this work analyzes person and viewpoint, as well as participles, verbs, and overall formal structure of the compositions.
Professor Nelson presented her research on the biography and hymnography of Valeria Konstantinovna at the 26th Annual International Educational Christmas Readings forum (Международные Рождественские образовательные чтения) in Moscow on January 25, 2018. This is the largest forum of the Russian Orthodox Church, drawing together people from many countries and organizations to discuss the Church and education, culture, social services, and the role of the Church in spiritual and moral education. Over seventeen thousand people took part in the forum, during which over 150 conferences, round tables, presentations and workshops took place.
The Church Slavonic conference was held in a conference room at the Church of Christ the Savior (Храм Христа Спасителя). Professor Nelson has presented at this conference for three consecutive years. She has continued to develop professional relationships and to collaborate with area specialists from Russia. Professor Nelson returns to Holy Trinity Seminary with up-to-date research and pedagogical materials for use at the Seminary and the Summer School of Liturgical Music. Participation in the forum was made possible by an FFA grant.