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Author Topic: What is tasbeha?  (Read 3162 times) Average Rating: 0
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sodr2
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« on: July 13, 2009, 11:16:58 PM »

This topic was split off from a thread about St. Moses the Ethiopian:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9391.new.html#new

Salpy
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Thanks!

BTW I see you're Armenian...do you know if your church has similar hymns as the Coptic church (for eg. the tasbeha hymn in the link above)?
« Last Edit: July 17, 2009, 05:02:14 PM by Salpy » Logged

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Salpy
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2009, 11:23:12 PM »

We have many different kinds of hymns, but I'm not an expert.  I'm not sure how to translate tasbeha, and how it would relate to Armenian hymnography.  Maybe vasnTearn would know more about this.

You may want to look at our thread on OO music to get a feel for Armenian Church music.
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vasnTearn
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2009, 11:49:09 AM »

The Armenian Church doesn't have a service like Tasbeha. If I'm not mistaken, tasbeha means praising. It's an Arabic word. Tasbeha is a night service in the Coptic Church in which doxologies are sung perhaps almost 2 hours, if my memory is OK. So this is a service of praising God and His saints. Perhaps our Coptic brothers of this community will give more correct information, as I'm writing according to my experience and memory of it. The service of Tasbeha follows immediately those prayers of Agpia (the Coptic Common Prayer book) that suit that night hour (that is, the prayers of night, morning and little hours). In the Coptic Church the prayer offices of Agpia don't have singing parts at all and some parts are even said in silence (unlike the Armenian Church's prayer offices which include both prayers and hymns and other singing parts, like litanies etc). So after this half silent, half aloud prayers which last nearly half an hour, the Tasbeha service begins which is only sung.

I don't know if Tasbeha is also offered in the Coptic churches in the world because its usual time in the monasteries is 3 or 4 am; and if so, at what time of the day they offer it.
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Orthodox11
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2009, 02:47:21 PM »

St. Basil the Great, among others, describes the Praises following the Midnight Office as forming part of the daily cycle of prayer. In the Byzantine churches these praises are part of what is known as the Orthros (Matins), which follows the Midnight Office (although in most parishes it is done earlier in the evening or later in the morning). There are big differences between the two, of course, but many of the basic elements are the same. 3 or the 4 Canticles in Coptic usage are found among the 9 Canticles in the Byzantine office. The Coptic Tasbeha contains doxologies to the Saint of the day and Theotokia for the day of the week, corresponding to the material found in the Byzantine Menaion and Octoechos respectively. Does the Armenian Church really not have something similar to this?

I don't know if Tasbeha is also offered in the Coptic churches in the world because its usual time in the monasteries is 3 or 4 am; and if so, at what time of the day they offer it.

Most of the churches I've been to do it, although not all do it regularly. It is usually done at some point in the evening.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2009, 02:47:42 PM by Orthodox11 » Logged
Salpy
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2009, 04:53:53 PM »

I know the Armenian Church has matins.  It is one of our Jhamyerkootiuns, or "hours."  At my parish it is done in the morning right before the liturgy begins, but I think traditionally it was supposed to be done much earlier, in the early hours of the morning.

I get the feeling that tasbeha is something different from matins, though.  This is interesting.  I may split this off and make it a separate topic.

OK, as everyone can see, I've split the topic off.  Now, for ease of reference, I'd like to link the video of the Tasbeha for St. Moses, which started this discussion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMTLIzyKtrE
« Last Edit: July 17, 2009, 05:55:22 PM by Salpy » Logged

Jonathan
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2009, 08:57:25 PM »

I know the Armenian Church has matins.  It is one of our Jhamyerkootiuns, or "hours."  At my parish it is done in the morning right before the liturgy begins, but I think traditionally it was supposed to be done much earlier, in the early hours of the morning.

I get the feeling that tasbeha is something different from matins, though.  This is interesting.  I may split this off and make it a separate topic.

OK, as everyone can see, I've split the topic off.  Now, for ease of reference, I'd like to link the video of the Tasbeha for St. Moses, which started this discussion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMTLIzyKtrE


Sorry, but when I click that link I don't see Tasbeha (Midnight Praise). That is the Verses of Cymbals as sung in either the Raising of Evening Incense (Vespers) or the Raising of Morning Incense (Matins). Tasbeha is strictly in the second or third choir, not in the Sanctuary, and there is no incense raised. I don't speak Arabic, but I think that's the Evening Incense because it sounds like the prayer for the Departed after the verses of cymbals. Later on in the Video there is a Tamageed (Veneration) for St. Moses (I assume based on this thread, it could be any saint since I don't know Arabic). The video cuts off, but after that would come the Gospel, absolution & end of service hymn.

The Vespers Praise & prayer of the evening hours of the Agpeya (book of hours) would have come before this Raising of Incense. After it the midnight hour from the Agpeya could be prayed, and then after that is when Tasbeha would come. After that the Doxology of Prime or morning praise could be said, followed by the prayer of Prime from the Agpeya. After that would come the Raising of the Morning Incesne, followed by the prayer of the 3rd and 6th hrs from the Agpeya, followed by the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Of course a break would come at some point in that to go sleep and then come back, and the way the hours falls would vary depending on season.

A recording of the Annual Sunday Tasbeha/Midnight Praise in English can be found here: http://www.stantonymonastery.org/psalmody.asp )
« Last Edit: July 17, 2009, 09:01:54 PM by Jonathan » Logged
Salpy
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2009, 11:58:32 PM »

Oh, this is so complicated!   Smiley
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Jonathan
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2009, 11:30:13 AM »

To answer the question about what is Tasbeha, I'll paste the forward to a Psalmody book:

The office of Midnight Praise is deeply rooted in Christian liturgi­cal history.  The Roman governor Pliny wrote in his letter to the Emperor Trajan that the Christians gathered before sunrise to par­ticipate in antiphonal singing in which they sang "a song to Christ as to a god."  Pliny tells us that the Christians dispersed after the first gathering before sunrise to come together again later for the Lord's Supper.  Any visitor to a Coptic monastery will realize that the monks are observing the same tradition to this day. 
The Coptic Midnight Praise  basically consists of  four "Canticles", the "Psali" and the "Theotokia".  The "Canticles" are Biblical Old Testament hymns that are always the same.  In contrast, the "Psali" and the "Theotokia" change according to the day of the week, the liturgical season or the feast.
The "First Canticle" is the hymn Moses and the Israelis sang after they crossed the Red Sea.  To us Christians, it is a song of victory over Satan which we attained when we crossed the waters of the baptismal font.
The "Second Canticle" is a psalm of praise (Psalm 136).  His­tory tells us that when the Emperor Constantius sent his General Syrianus to arrest Saint Athanasius, he found him sitting in the church.  A deacon was singing Psalm 136, while the people chanted the response "For His mercy endures forever." 
"The Third Canticle" is the song which the Three Children sang in the fiery furnace. It has been preserved for us in deutero-canonical part of the Book of Daniel.
"The Fourth Canticle" is made up of three psalms of praise, Psalms 148, 149 and 150.
The "Psali" is a hymn of glorification of the  the Lord Jesus.  The response is generally a recital of the name of the Lord.
The "Theotokia" is a hymn honouring the "Theotokos" (the Mother of God).  It is a wonderful theological treatise explaining many of the Old Testament "types" of the holy Virgin Mary.
In producing this work, we took the "Canticles" from the King James Version of the Bible, revising the text to accommodate the slight variances in the Coptic text.
The "Psali" and "Theotokia" were translated from the Coptic, using the Biblical equivalent of the Coptic words, as they appear in the King James Version.
The words "Thee", "Thou", etc., are used only in addressing the Divinity.  This was the directive of H.H. Pope Shenouda III when he met with the Liturgy Translation Committee.  The rest of the text is in modern English.
We have appended to this work the "Doxology of Prime" which is sung before the Offering of the Morning Incense.  We have also added the "Saturday Psali" and the "Saturday Theotokia" which are sung after the "Fourth Canticle." These three  together constitute the "Vespers Praise" sung on Saturday before the Offering of the Evening Incense.
There are various commentary hymns that follow the "Canticles", as well as  the "Psali"  and the "Theotokia".  These are labeled "Adam" or "Batos", depending on the tune in which they are sung.  We have included a selection of these commen­tary hymns.
The Doxologies have not been included in this edition since they appear in our earlier publication, THE OFFERING OF IN­CENSE.
We hope that this booklet will help our Youth and our English-speaking Copts savour the richness of our Coptic Praise tradition.
Glory to our God.  Amen.
A.I.
Tut 1708
September 1991
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Salpy
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2009, 10:56:00 PM »

The office of Midnight Praise is deeply rooted in Christian liturgi­cal history.  The Roman governor Pliny wrote in his letter to the Emperor Trajan that the Christians gathered before sunrise to par­ticipate in antiphonal singing in which they sang "a song to Christ as to a god."  Pliny tells us that the Christians dispersed after the first gathering before sunrise to come together again later for the Lord's Supper.  Any visitor to a Coptic monastery will realize that the monks are observing the same tradition to this day. 


I love how so many of our Churches' practices can be traced back to the earliest Christian times.

I think this is the letter of Pliny:

http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/texts/pliny.html
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2009, 06:51:18 AM »

The words of Pliny are the following:

Quote
They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food.

Well, to be honest, there is nothing about Coptic 'Tasbeha' but about just gathering of Christians 'before dawn' and celebrating. This  is peculiar to all traditional Christian Churches, not only Coptic: all of them have Night service or Matins in which they praise God and 'sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god'.
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Jonathan
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2009, 10:45:52 AM »

The words of Pliny are the following:

Quote
They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food.

Well, to be honest, there is nothing about Coptic 'Tasbeha' but about just gathering of Christians 'before dawn' and celebrating. This  is peculiar to all traditional Christian Churches, not only Coptic: all of them have Night service or Matins in which they praise God and 'sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god'.

I don't think anyone is claiming that the Eastern Orthodox don't have anything like this. The priest who wrote the forward didn't at the time know much about Eastern Orthodox rites. He was writing strictly from a Coptic point of view, and I posted it merely as a good explanation of what the Midnight Praise is, not trying to make an us vs them situation.
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Salpy
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2009, 11:31:13 AM »

A post by ialmisry and a response to it were moved to ialmisry's thread in the private EO/OO discussion forum.
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jydeacon
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2010, 09:25:34 PM »

Vastran, the prayers of the agpeya should be sang, but the tunes have become uncommon in everyday practice. You will find in the monastaries the Agpeya(the psalms specifically) are chanted while the Gospel and the litanies after have their own tunes.
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