Coptic Church · History & Tradition · Hymnology · Rites & Rituals

The Rank of Epsaltos – Singer!

The Epsaltos Deacon – His name is derived from the Coptic word “Psalmos” i.e. Psalm or hymn.

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, so they might grow up learning the faith, rite and doctrine of an Orthodox Church. In addition to the high spirituality and holiness which they will attain while being in the church, thus the saying: “But I am like a green olive tree in the house I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever” (Ps 52:8) might be fulfilled in them.

The Epsaltos can wear the tunia without the Patrachil ( The Red stole worn by the deacons)

After the Reconciliation Prayer in the Holy Liturgy the Hegomen (the eldest priest) or the Archdeacon brings the children to be ordained, so they stand in awe before the altar’s door.

The Bishop then comes and gives them advise that suits their age, eg. come regularly to the church, attend Sunday School classes, learn the hymns. He also advises them to be quiet in church and not to be naughty in the church, in the street or at home, to be obedient and not to swear or lie…, to practice confession and partake in the Holy Communion.

The Bishop must also get a verbal promise from the parents to help the new epsaltos carry out the advise, and not to prevent him to come to church under any circumstances. Then he advises the father priest to watch them and care for their spiritual life, and following their confessions. He also advises the elder of the deacons to teach them the hymns and praises of the church, as well as explaining some simple rituals.

It is preferable if he tests them in reciting for example, the “Our Father” prayer, the Creed and some short responses.

After that he starts ordaining them as Epsaltos: They bow their heads before him, then he prays on them: “O Lord Master God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, we ask and entreat you, O Lover of mankind, your servant(s) standing before you, who came to your One Holy and Apostolic Church, enlighten them with the sweetness of your holy words.

Let them chant with understanding – spiritual songs. Let them be worthy to start in faith, worship you in wisdom and purity. Sanctify them. Bless them. Fill them with your fear. Guide them by your powerful angels. Enrich them with every good gift and perfect talent, so that they might live according to your holy blessed will, accepted by you. Let them be called to the perfect growth which is for your Holy Spirit, through your Only Begotten Son our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Glory, honour, dominion and worship are due to you together with Him and the Life-Giving and consubstantial Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen” He signs the first child three crosses without laying his hand while saying the name (… ) Epsaltos on the Church of (… ),

1- Blessed is the Holy Father the Pantocrator (Khen Efran).

2- Blessed is His Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (in the second sign)

3- Blessed is the Holy Spirit the Paraclete (in the third sign)

The Bishop signs the rest of the children in the same way.

Then the service garments are presented (the tunia without the Patrachil), so he signs them three times, then they wear them.

The children stand infront of the elder deacons, and participate in the responses and tunes of the Holy Liturgy.

They partake of the Holy Communion, after the deacons, everyone and their families rejoice.

They have to be regular in attending the Holy Liturgy, and coming to the church. as they grow up, they get used to worship and virtues, they become saints without blame.

2 thoughts on “The Rank of Epsaltos – Singer!

  1. It’s interesting to note that it is preferable if the bishop tests him in reciting for example, the “Our Father” prayer, the Creed and some short responses.

    Had this test been compulsory I think that marks off 90% of the deacons aged 3-10, yes I said three, and arguably 50% of deacons above 3-10.

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