It is acknowledged that the hymns of the Coptic Orthodox Church date back to the early period of the Ancient Egyptians. Today, Coptic music is considered to be one of the oldest musical genres alive. Coptic music is not transcribed, but rather passed down orally from generation to generation. In addition to its complexity, the precision of the hymns’ melody, and, finally, the difficulty of the hymn to be tolerated by the common ear, many hymns have perished from the Church tradition, leaving no remnants of authentic Pharonic music except through what the Copts chant within their churches.
Prior to the ordination of Pope Kirollos the fourth, known as the ‘Pope of the Reformation,’ upon the throne of Saint Mark the Apostle, there was a possibility of the complete loss of many Coptic hymns, as the Church experienced a period of weakness.
However, the ‘Pope of the Reformation’ commanded a talented cantor, Mo’allim Tekla, to compile and compare all Coptic hymns, as well as to pass them down to others, in the hope of preserving the Heritage of the Church. Read the rest of this entry »
Category Archives: Hymnology
Golgotha is an ancient coptic hymn that dates back to pharonic times. The melody is said to have been the same melody used when pharohs were being buried. At the foot of the cross when Joseph and Nicodemus went to get the body of Christ for burial, they saw and heard angels singing, HOLY GOD HOLY ALMIGHTY HOLY IMMORTAL, the church in its wisdom and custom, took these powerful words and adapted to the ancient melody of this Hymn.
Below is a powerful video that brings to life this wonderful hymn sung at the 12th Hour of Good Friday while the reenactment of Christs Burial takes place. Truly Wonderful
Besides the great awe of this inheritance, yet how much we distort it whenever the worship is changed to just a ritual and this appears a lot in:
- The competition of voices in the church, so that some people try to reply and sing the hymn before the people in church. They cannot even bear staying in church unless their voices are apparent to the people. The truth is that the hymns are a delight and a personal pleasure as a means for worship and the spiritual highness resembling the angels.
- The loud voices in the praises are not from the character of the angels. But it is a means by which the enemy misleads us so that by it we lose the tranquillity of the hymn and its magnificence.
- Chanting and praising — it is prayer — then how do we stand for prayer? Possibly we stand for prayer with submission, but at the moment of chanting the submission escapes. Indeed, worship uses the senses from the raising of hands and heart and thoughts and tunes that express the depth of the soul more than it expresses the words. Read the rest of this entry »
Connected with the four Canticles and the seven Theotokias are seven Epsalias. The word “epsalia” means a hymn. The hymn in our Coptic Church is distinguishable in that the reply in each verse ends with the name of Jesus. An example of this:
- The Epsalia for Monday: “My Lord Jesus”
- The Epsalia for Tuesday: “Your Holy Name My Lord Jesus is…” is in its phrasing.
- The Epsalia for Wednesday: “The sweet name full of glory is that of our Lord Jesus Christ…” is in its phrasing.
- The Epsalia for Thursday: It begins with the clause, “O Lord Jesus Christ who…” Read the rest of this entry »
Indeed, the personality of the Virgin, the Mother of God, has above the greatest importance concerning the mystery of the incarnation. We cannot taste or touch it and feel or live it and take its blessings except after comprehending the divine connection between the divine and human natures in the divine factory (the womb of the Virgin Mary).
Since the mystery of incarnation is the foundation of all mysteries of Christianity, the prophets became expert in the Old Testament with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in casting the large light on this mystery–that is in their description for the Virgin as the Second Heaven.
Thus the Virgin is not a box which has a jewel from which we took the jewel and discarded the box. NO!
These words are dangerous for two reasons: First: Because God the Word became flesh. He took from the flesh and blood of the Virgin and was weaned with her milk (Heb 2:14). Read the rest of this entry »
It is the praise of the three saintly youths. (It is a writing in the Holy Bible and the Protestants omitted it in the Beirut edition). It can be summed up that the king commanded the elimination of the three youths in the fiery furnace. Even though the fire did not go out, it did not touch them with any harm. The king found the presence of a fourth person walking with them in the midst of the furnace and this person resembled the sons of the gods. This canticle is sung by the church with the tune of joy in order to reveal to us these beautiful meanings:
- That the fire of the world is necessary for the trials of the church, but God is in the midst of the furnace changing the fire into cool dew.
- That inner peace does not mean the cessation of trials and sufferings from us. But it does mean the presence of God with us in the midst of the fire. Tribulation in Christianity is not resolved by its disappearance but with the passing of the Lord with us in it and with His carrying the cross with us and the everlasting presence with us. Stephen was being stoned and was seeing the Son of Man standing on the right of the majesty. Read the rest of this entry »
The First Canticle (hos):
It is the praise of Moses the Prophet after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15). “Let us praise the Lord for with glory he is glorified…” The Red Sea was a symbol of baptism which is considered a complete barrier between Pharaoh and his soldiers and between the people that passed through the wilderness with their God.
Also, the Church with the baptismal crossing of its children, currently in the wilderness of this world, sings the praise of victory and salvation (the song of Moses). It sings it every day until it sings it in complete victory and triumph in eternity.
“And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…” (Rev 15:1-4). Read the rest of this entry »
It begins with the Agpeya prayer in which the gospel of the meeting with the virgins who lit their lamps (Mat 25:1-13) is read, then the gospel of repentance out of love for Christ, offering feelings of their love with the fragrant oil which the woman poured (Luke 7:36-50). Then it concludes the appointed times of the Lord for the little flock separated from the world whom the Lord became their share (Luke 12:32-46). Read the rest of this entry »
Conditions for ordaining:
1. He is not to be less than 20 years old in normal conditions, except if he is brilliant and outstanding in the church’s service, he is as wise as the elders and as honest as the saints.
2. He is to be recommended by the people and priests. Read the rest of this entry »
His job is clear from his name, learning hymns and tunes, and singing them in church. This rank was mentioned in some laws of the first church:
The Epsaltos are also blessed by the Bishop Children may be ordained as Epsaltos, according to the Psalm: “Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have ordained strength”(Psalm 8:2). The idea of ordaining children is getting them attached to the church at an early age, Read the rest of this entry »
Starting from today we will begina six part series on Deaconship in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Bishop Mettaous will lead us through this series as he explores what it means to be a deacon and the 5 main ranks in the Coptic Church. I hope you thoroughly Enjoy this series as Deaconship is part of Priesthood and it has its own blessings as well as duties associated with it.
“Deacon” is a Syrian word that means servant. In Greek, it is called “Deyakon”. The deacon’s main job is to help the priest or bishop in his religious service. The first church appointed seven deacons to serve tables, who were filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom, Read the rest of this entry »
The Hymn of Tonseena is next in our series on Coptic Hymnology of Easter
We, the believers, praise and worship the Word, One in eternity with the Father and the Spirit, born of the Virgin for our salvation, for He agreed and accepted to go up on the cross, and to suffer death in the flesh and to raise those who died, by His glorious Resurrection.
The Hymn Tolitho is next in our series of the Coptic hymnology of Easter!
While the stone was sealed by the Jews and Your holy body was guarded by the soldiers You arose on the third day O Savior, granting life to the world.
For that reason the heavenly hosts cry out to You, O Doner of life “Glory be to Your Resurrection O Christ, glory be to Your kingdom, glory be to Your planning, You are the only Lover of mankind.”
Next in our Series on the Coptic Hymnolgy of Easter is the Hymn Ekhristos Anesti which has two distinct tunes as you will hear below in the video from St Marks Cathedral in Egypt from this years Easter Mass. The hymn is sung after the re-enactment of our Lord Jesus Christ opening the gates of heaven! Very Upbeat!
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the age of all ages Amen.
A curious custom of the Coptic Church is the liturgy is prayed and sung in Coptic, the original language of ancient Egypt. The Church keeps alive the language of the pharaohs, which was written in hieroglyphics, hieratic and demotic and now a modified version of the Greek alphabet, Egyptian written in Greek and demotic (the Copt) was gradually being forgotten, lost ground to the Arabic and thus became incomprehensible. However, the Coptic Church preserved the ancient Egyptian language by tradition thanks to its rites. The video shows images and also religious Copts of pharaonic Egypt, the Copts are the descendants of the ancient Egyptians who have become Christians.
This New Series will focus on the hymns of the Easter Season sung in the Church.
Below is the Hymn Onimnai
O what a, O what a, O what a harmonious tune