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  A l e k s a n d e r   D u c h n o v i č

    Aleksander Duchnovič was born in the Zemplyn County highlands, in the village of Topolja, on April 24, 1803.  He lived his childhood in the village of his birth and in Staščin [Stakčin], where his maternal grandfather, A. Gerberij, was the cantor/teacher.  Here in a family atmosphere he received his rudimentary education.   He went to middle school in Užhorod.  When he finished high school he was accepted as a seminarian student for the Eparchy of Prešov.  Since there was no seminary in Prešov at the time, he completed his theology studies in Užhorod.  After his ordination he was assigned as a clerk in the eparchial chancery office in Prešov.  Later he was the pastor in the village of Biloveža, in the region of "Makovicja," where he worked until 1838.  Later he went to Užhorod, where for a short time he was a Notary for the church consistory.  In 1844 in Prešov, Duchnovič was appointed to the Chapter of Canons.  As Canon he was elected as representative to parliament where he served for two years.  On his return home he continued living in Prešov until his death.  Duchnovič died on March 30, 1865 and was buried in the Prešov city cemetery.

    Although a priest by profession, Aleksander Duchnovič is best known as a national awakener and enlightener of his people.  His initial activities clashed with the Hungarian Revolution in 1848-1849.  During this period, Duchnovič was jailed by the Hungarian authorities when he chose to remain loyal to his nationality rather than denounce his Rusyn roots. It was there that he wrote his best-known hymn "Ja Rusyn byl" ….


Aleksander Duchnovič (1803-1865)
"Vrucanie" -- 1851 Almanac Pozdravlenie Rusynov

Я Русин был, єсмь, и буду,
  Я родился Русином,
Честный мой род не забуду,
  Останусь єго сыном;
I was, am and will remain Rusyn,
  I was born a Rusyn,
My honorable lineage I will not forget,
  And I shall remain its son;

Русин был мой отец, мати,
Русская вся родина,
Русины сестры, и браты
  И широка дружина;
My father and mother were Rusyn,
  As are all my relatives,
My brothers and sisters are Rusyns,
  And my large group of friends;
Великій мой род, и главный,
  Міру єсть современный,
Духом и силою славный,
  Всїм народам пріємный.
My great and mighty people
  Are united in peace,
And with renewed strength and spirit,
  Are magnanimous to all others.
Я свїт узрїл под Бескидом,
  Первый воздух русскій ссал,
И кормился русским хлїбом,
  Русин мене колысал.
I first saw the light of this world
under the [Carpathian] Beskid range,
  The first breath I drew was Russian,
And I was raised on Russian bread,
  A Rusyn it was who cradled me.
Коль первый раз отворил рот,
  Русскоє слово прорек,
На аз-буцї первый мой пот
  З молодого чела тек.
When I opened my mouth for the first time,
  I spoke Rusyn words,
And it was over Cyrillic letters
  That sweat ran from my young brow.
Русским потом я питан был,
  Русским ищол расходом
В широкій свїт; но не забыл
  С своим знатися родом. --
Later I was educated as a Rusyn
  And as such went out into the wide world;
But I did not forget
  My own distinguished people.
И теперь, кто питает мя?
  Кто кормит, кто мя держит?
Самое русское нлемя
  Мою годность содержит!
And now who shows me the way?
  Who nourishes me? Who uplifts me?
It is the Rusyn nation
  Which upholds my respectability.
Прото тобї, роде мой,
  Кленуся живым Богом,
За печальный пот и труд твой
  Повинуюся полгом. --
It is for you, my people,
  I bow down to the living God.
Through sweat and hard work
  I pay back my obligation
И отдам ти колько могу,
  Прійми той щирый дарок,
Прійми вот маленьку книгу,
  И сей писменный рядок;
And give to you as much as I can
  Accept as a gift and with sincerity
This little book
  And its writer's words
Прочеє же не забуду
  Сердца моєго скруху
Пожертвити; -- я твой буду,
  Твоим другом и умру.
I will not forget to sacrifice this repentance
  From the bottom of my heart
I will remain your devoted
  Friend until I die.