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Old Church Slavonic (словѣньскъ)

Old Church Slavonic or Church Slavonic is a literary language which developed from the language used by St Cyril and St Methodius, 9th century missionaries from Byzantium, to translate the bible and other religious works. Cyril and Methodius based their translations on a Slavonic dialect of the Thessalonika area and invented a new alphabet, Glagolitic, in order to write them.

Sometime during the 10th century AD a new alphabet appeared which was known as Cyrillic and named after St Cyril, though it was possibly invented by St Kliment of Ohrid. The Cyrillic alphabet was used to write the Old Church Slavonic language and was later adapated to write many other languages.

Old Church Slavonic was used as the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox church between the 9th and 12th centuries. A more modern form of the language, known as Church Slavonic, appeared during the 14th century and is still used in the Russian Orthodox church.

Early Cyrillic alphabet used for Old Church Slavonic

Old Church Slavonic alphabet

Sample text in Old Church Slavonic

  1. въ оно врѣмѧ изідє заповѣдь отъ кєсарѣ авгоста напісаті в҄сѫ вьсєлєнѫѭ |
  2. сє напісаніє пръвоє бъістъ владѫщѹ сѹрієѭ и кѵрінієѭ |
  3. и идѣахѫ вьсі напісатъ сѧ кьждо въ свои градъ |
  4. вьзідє жє иосіфь отъ галілєѧ и града назарєтьска вь июдєѭ вь градъ давъідовъ іжє наріцаєтъ сѧ віѳлєємь занє бѣашє отъ домѹ и отьчьствіѣ давъідова |


  1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
  2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
  3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
  4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Luke 2: 1-4


Information about Old Church Slavonic | Tower of Babel in Old Church Slavonic | Old Church Slavonic learning materials


Information about Old Church Slavonic

Online Church Slavonic lessons

Free Old Church Slavonic fonts

Online Church Slavonic keyboard

Online Church Slavonic Institute

Corpus Cyrillo-Methodianum Helsingiense (An Electronic Corpus of Old Church Slavonic Texts):

ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical & medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic, Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham, Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic, Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform:

Slavic languages

Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Kashubian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Silesian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian, Ukrainian, West Polesian


Armenian, Avestan, Bassa (Vah), Beitha Kukju, Borama / Gadabuursi, Carian, Carpathian Basin Rovas, Chinuk pipa, Coorgi-Cox, Coptic, Cyrillic, Dalecarlian runes, Elbasan, Etruscan, Galik, Georgian (Asomtavruli), Georgian (Nuskhuri), Georgian (Mkhedruli), Glagolitic, Gothic, Greek, Irish (Uncial), Kaddare, Khazarian Rovas, Korean, Latin, Lepontic, Lycian, Lydian, Manchu, Meroïtic, Mongolian, N'Ko, Ogham, Old Church Slavonic, Oirat Clear Script, Old Italic, Old Permic, Orkhon, Phrygian, Pollard script, Runic, Santali, Székely-Hungarian Rovás (Hungarian Runes), Somali (Osmanya), Sutton SignWriting, Tai Lue, Thaana, Todhri, Uyghur