Church Music – Part 1

Our Coptic Church has a very rich musical heritage, for music has its deep effect on the soul, as mentioned before. Saint Paul said; “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

Music is used, since old, to move the believers’ desires and emotions for praying and worshipping.

When one hears a sad hymn or song, it moves the tender emotions, thus, elevating the human feelings, and subliming the human thought. This causes one to come to one’s self – wake one’s senses, and remember the Lord and seek repentance and reform.

By the same token, the joyful tones-the festal hymns, gives one’s soul peace and spiritual happiness.

This is the nature of the Church hymns and songs, which present special words with theological meaning, and specific dogma, for certain occasions .

Music and songs affect the believer; where the tone of music affects the intuition, while the meaning affects the mind and thoughts.

Coptic Hymns

The Coptic Orthodox Church has been blessed by this wonderful treasure and precious gift, not only for the Church but for the whole Christendom.

We feel proud in the different Ecumenical councils; whether it be the Middle East Council, the African, or the World Council of Churches, as all members appreciate highly our hymns and songs, which carries an authentic and true theological teachings .

It is of vital interest that our children and youth learn the Church hymns and the many replies of the Divine Liturgy, so they will not feel strangers in their Church.

For when they participate they become part of the Liturgy, interacting with the words which have been divinely put , knowing the Church theology and dogma, through the Church rites and the beautiful tones and tunes.

Composition of Church Hymns

The words carry a deep theological, dogmatic, and spiritual meanings. Looking at the Four Canticles (Ode), the Psali’s, the Theotokia’s, give us an assurance that the holy Church uses it in:

  • Presenting Theology and Dogma to the believers
  • Explaining it in suitable words,
  • Using words to give precise meanings,
  • Pointing its importance for salvation,
  • Composing a tune which fits the meaning, reciting it .

As for the Doxologies, meaning glorifying God in the life of the martyrs and saints, it is to attract us to their lives, so they can be our guide, source of strength, and intercessors, through the poetic words and its tunes.

The hymns and songs of the Divine Liturgy, whether it be the Priests words or the deacons response along with the congregation, it has its theological depth, dogmatic meanings, biblical evidences, and intuition ..which prepares the believers for partaking of the Body and Blood of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, leading us throughout the path of life into the Kingdom of Heaven .. to Eternity.

As for Passion Week, The Holy Pascha Week, with its rich readings, and expositions, it all invites us to feel sorry and be deeply saddened for our sins caused our Redeemer to suffer on our behalf. It also calls on us to have hope and rejoice for the glorious act of Redemption , which our Lord offered to us through the Cross .

As for the month of December, better known in the Coptic calendar as : The Month of ‘Kiahk’, were the believers stay up late in joy, were its prayers prepare us for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ ‘in our hearts’, celebrating The Glorious Nativity.

Also the other Church events, such as; Baptism, Matrimony, Funerals, etc. were the Church teaches the believers the deep meaning of its teachings, along with the spiritual and intuitive effects, accordingly.

To Be continued

Fr Markos Hanna

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