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Author Topic: I will go to my first Coptic liturgy this sunday (some advices)  (Read 4428 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 06, 2009, 06:30:03 PM »

Dears Friends

I will attend the Coptic Divine Liturgy at St. Mark's Church in Tlayacapan (State of Morelos, Mexico) this sunday. I was invited by their priest.

He told me that the Mass lasts about 2 hours and a half (therefore it seems to be considerably longer than the Byzantine Liturgy or even the Traditional Latin Liturgy). The rites are all in Spanish as many in the congregation are ethnic Mexicans.

May someone tell me something about the Coptic liturgy? It's my understanding that the Liturgy of St. Basil is going to be celebrated, am I right? From what I've read, the Coptic Church joins maitins with liturgy on Sundays (this is probably the reason why it is long).

What feast will they celebrate this Sunday?

Thanks a lot.

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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2009, 06:55:22 PM »

He told me that the Mass lasts about 2 hours and a half (therefore it seems to be considerably longer than the Byzantine Liturgy or even the Traditional Latin Liturgy).

The Coptic Liturgy is more or less the same length as the Byzantine one. You'll probably find the beginning quite confusing, but as the Liturgy progresses there are many parts that are almost word-for-word the same as the Byzantine liturgies, so you'll probably find it less 'other' than you expected.

Quote
From what I've read, the Coptic Church joins maitins with liturgy on Sundays (this is probably the reason why it is long).

It's preceded by the morning Raising of Incense. It's a relatively short service with no Byzantine equivalent (what we call Orthros/Matins has more in common with the Coptic Midnight Psalmody/Tasbeha, which is not done before the Liturgy).
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2009, 08:22:26 PM »

I don't know what they do in Mexico, but usually we do pray the Basilian liturgy.

http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/liturgy/liturgy_of_st_basil.pdf

It's the shortest of the three main liturgies the Coptic Church uses (other than Gregorian and Cyrillian/Mark).  If anything, traditionally, at this time in Lent, the Cyrillian liturgy (traditionally attributed by St. Cyril of Alexandria to St. Mark the Apostle) should be used, but I'm not sure if the Church got that far in establishing the Spanish translation of it.  Just in case:

http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/liturgy/liturgy_of_st_cyril.pdf

Almost every Coptic Church I went to in NJ/NY uses a lot of incense in comparison to EO churches I went to, so brace yourself for a cloud if the priest likes to put extra coal.  Morning prayers and raising of incense should take about 30 to 60 minutes, the liturgy of the word about an hour, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist about another hour.  So ya, roughly 2.5 to 3 hours.  Lots of standing, but if you see a lot of people sitting around you, when some are standing, and you're feeling tired, usually no one bothers you. 

Important times to stand:
When the priest is going around the church with the censor
At the prayer for the Holy Gospel and the Gospel reading itself (this Sunday, it will be Temptation Sunday, when the Lord gets tempted in the Mountain).
The Creed
When the altar servant says "You who are seated stand"
The Institutive Narrative (prayer of turning the bread and wine into Body and Blood)
The Fraction until the end of the Eucharistic distribution

You'll know when a group of people are all of a sudden moved to stand up, when are moved to kneel in worship, when are moved to sit down (usually sitting is only for the sermon and readings, except the Psalm and Gospel).

Certain hymns at Lent are sung differently, some in different tones and words.  Lent commemorates the 40 days and nights Christ fasted before ministry.  So a lot of the hymns will reiterate that.

Usually I find the people are very kind, and if you get lost following along with a book, a congregant may assist you.

That's all I can think of at the moment.

God bless.

PS oh ya, and we use cymbols and triangles for instruments, but traditionally was used just to keep the beat of the hymns flowing, that the congregation should follow along with the cymbols.  More likely today however, cymbols are just instruments and there's a head deacon that carries a microphone that usually carries the flow and beat of the hymns, and the cymbols are forced to follow along with him.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 08:23:47 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2009, 11:35:16 PM »

I don't know what they do in Mexico, but usually we do pray the Basilian liturgy.

http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/liturgy/liturgy_of_st_basil.pdf

It's the shortest of the three main liturgies the Coptic Church uses (other than Gregorian and Cyrillian/Mark).  If anything, traditionally, at this time in Lent, the Cyrillian liturgy (traditionally attributed by St. Cyril of Alexandria to St. Mark the Apostle) should be used, but I'm not sure if the Church got that far in establishing the Spanish translation of it.  Just in case:

http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/liturgy/liturgy_of_st_cyril.pdf

Almost every Coptic Church I went to in NJ/NY uses a lot of incense in comparison to EO churches I went to, so brace yourself for a cloud if the priest likes to put extra coal.  Morning prayers and raising of incense should take about 30 to 60 minutes, the liturgy of the word about an hour, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist about another hour.  So ya, roughly 2.5 to 3 hours.  Lots of standing, but if you see a lot of people sitting around you, when some are standing, and you're feeling tired, usually no one bothers you. 

Important times to stand:
When the priest is going around the church with the censor
At the prayer for the Holy Gospel and the Gospel reading itself (this Sunday, it will be Temptation Sunday, when the Lord gets tempted in the Mountain).
Just a side note: He was tempted in the desert, but the Coptic texts say "tooy" which means "mountain" or "desert" "monastery" amongst other things (it is from the hieroglyphic word "djw").  The reason is that in Egypt the Nile cuts through a rocky plateau before ending up in the flat delta (the term originates, btw, because the Nile's delta resembles the Greek letter "delta."), so there is now a valley flanked by cliffs where the plateau has been eroded by the Nile.  And being a desert, rocky plateau, the desert begins here, where the Nile can't reach it. djw was that edge, and it became the place were the monks would live together, going down into the valley to met with those in the world, going away from the edge into the desert to combat demons.
Quote
The Creed
When the altar servant says "You who are seated stand"
The Institutive Narrative (prayer of turning the bread and wine into Body and Blood)
The Fraction until the end of the Eucharistic distribution

You'll know when a group of people are all of a sudden moved to stand up, when are moved to kneel in worship, when are moved to sit down (usually sitting is only for the sermon and readings, except the Psalm and Gospel).

Certain hymns at Lent are sung differently, some in different tones and words.  Lent commemorates the 40 days and nights Christ fasted before ministry.  So a lot of the hymns will reiterate that.

Usually I find the people are very kind, and if you get lost following along with a book, a congregant may assist you.

That's all I can think of at the moment.

God bless.

PS oh ya, and we use cymbols and triangles for instruments, but traditionally was used just to keep the beat of the hymns flowing, that the congregation should follow along with the cymbols.  More likely today however, cymbols are just instruments and there's a head deacon that carries a microphone that usually carries the flow and beat of the hymns, and the cymbols are forced to follow along with him.

The Coptic chant is derived from the chants that would have been sung in the temples from the days of Moses and beyond: you will notice that the vowels are drawn out considerable. That was characteristic of Ancient Egyptian Chant.  You will, besides the Spanish, Arabic and Greek, hear Coptic, the oldest language on the planet.  It is Ancient Egyptian written with Greek letters, with the addition of a few letters directly from the hieroglyphics.  When my sons and I would go to the Coptic Church, they would say that the service was in "mummy."
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2009, 12:00:56 AM »

Yes, you reminded me of the vowels:

There is a particular hymn sung in Lent right after the reading of the Synexarium (Saints of the Day), called "Megalo" or "The Ever-Greatest."  The hymn's first verse (which I think is pure Greek) is the longest part of the hymn, and it goes like this:

"Meghalo arshe-erevs yestos e-onas ak-ranton agios o Theos, agios Yes-sheros, agios athana-tos, o estavro-tees de-emas, e-leyson e-mas."

"The ever-greatest pure highpriest forever is the holy God, holy Mighty, holy Immortal, who was crucified for us, have mercy upon us."

from http://tasbeha.org/media/index.php?st=Hymns%2FFasts%2FGreat_Lent%2FCantor_Gad_Lewis%2FMeghalo%2FMeghalo_Lesson_1.116.mp3 (this is also lesson one of the hymn, if you like to learn it)

Here's a full recording from Arch-Psalter Ibrahim Ayad, the Psalter at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo (Papal residence).  This is Megalo plus the Trisagion:

http://www.umich.edu/%7Eawadd/hymnsmtg/hymns/08lent/m.ibrahim/M.Ibrahim_Ayad_Meghalo_%28Live%29.mp3

God bless.

PS  This is just one of a plethora of "vowelated" (for lack of a better word) hymns that the Coptic Church has; these are usually hardest to learn.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2009, 12:17:11 AM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2009, 12:27:29 AM »

It's nice to see that we're so well established in many countries Smiley I'm just curious, is it Abouna Zakaria El Barmousy praying the liturgy?

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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2009, 12:41:07 AM »

Ah, yes, and an analysis of the hymn Megalo if you like.  By the way, the hymn has three verses before it goes into Apenchois.  So this is only a third of the very looooong hymn.  It's why in churches today, we only sing the first verse, but meditations on the second and third is encouraged while the deacon is singing it.

http://www.copticheritage.org/PagEd+index-page_id-755.phtml

Notes:

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~awadd/hymnsmtg/notes/08lent/Meghalo.jpg

God bless.
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2009, 02:15:02 AM »

Do Copts ever do full prostrations during a Sunday liturgy?  If not, when do they?
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2009, 02:55:28 AM »

Do Copts ever do full prostrations during a Sunday liturgy?  If not, when do they?

Technically, at kneeling times, we should do full prolonged prostrations, which those without benches take advantage of.  When one enters the Church also, it is a tradition that all must go to the front right behind the altar and do three prostrations, pray the Lord's prayer, do three prostrations, touch and kiss "the hem of the garment" (so to speak) of the curtain, kiss the icons on either side of the iconastasis, kiss the book of readings, and then kiss the hand of the priest (but mostly instead of three and three prostrations, some just do one and one (with three signs of the cross each), while others just pray at the door and just go to their seat).  Prostrations should be done during the 41 Kyrie Elayson's, and at the end of the Liturgy when we sing the "end of the Service" hymn, there's a part where we sing "Lo the Metanya," which should be doing a prostration (which we call "Metanya").

Rarely do you find anyone who would do all of that.  Benches for one thing inhibit greatly this practice.

Holy Week is when "Metanyas" become very highly used, and you see more people encouraged walk away from the benches to have room to do these "Metanyas."

PS  I know Metanya comes from the Greek Metanoia.  Technically, when I think of the connection between repentance and humbling prostrations, I think of Psalm 51:  "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be cleaned.  Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me hear joy and gladness.  The bones that are humbled, make them rejoice."
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2009, 04:16:32 AM »

I just really hate to see how little prostrations are used, especially in North America.  Whenever I gripe about pews it's really only because I hate to see this expression die off.  Prostrations in the Orthodox church was one of the things that really contributed to my conversion.  What other Christians have retained this practice for 2000 years?  I don't want to see it totally die off!
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2009, 08:45:47 AM »

Actually we should not kneel or prostrate on Sundays or during the Holy 50 days from Resurrection to Pentecost. On all other days we should do the prostrations and kneelings as you mentioned. This is in accordance with the canons of Nicea. On these days we just bow the head. This is to remember the Resurrection, as each Sunday is a 'little Easter'.

This practice was common until recently. Books from only a hundred years ago mention the fact that Copts stand to receive Communion unlike Catholics who kneel, etc. The current confusion of people kneeling on Sundays and/or not kneeling on weekdays comes partly from influence from Catholicism, partly form obstruction from pews, and more from confusion since few people go to church on Sundays in Egypt. Since Friday is the day off everyone goes then, when you can kneel. Then when they came here and everyone goes to  Church on Sundays they didn't know not to kneel. There are two or three priests in my area who follow the rules an refrain from kneeling on Sundays.

We also prostrate when the priest introduces each hour of the Agpeya, and during the set prostrations in Matins and before the Absolution in weekday Liturgies during Lent.

Do Copts ever do full prostrations during a Sunday liturgy?  If not, when do they?

Technically, at kneeling times, we should do full prolonged prostrations, which those without benches take advantage of.  When one enters the Church also, it is a tradition that all must go to the front right behind the altar and do three prostrations, pray the Lord's prayer, do three prostrations, touch and kiss "the hem of the garment" (so to speak) of the curtain, kiss the icons on either side of the iconastasis, kiss the book of readings, and then kiss the hand of the priest (but mostly instead of three and three prostrations, some just do one and one (with three signs of the cross each), while others just pray at the door and just go to their seat).  Prostrations should be done during the 41 Kyrie Elayson's, and at the end of the Liturgy when we sing the "end of the Service" hymn, there's a part where we sing "Lo the Metanya," which should be doing a prostration (which we call "Metanya").

Rarely do you find anyone who would do all of that.  Benches for one thing inhibit greatly this practice.

Holy Week is when "Metanyas" become very highly used, and you see more people encouraged walk away from the benches to have room to do these "Metanyas."

PS  I know Metanya comes from the Greek Metanoia.  Technically, when I think of the connection between repentance and humbling prostrations, I think of Psalm 51:  "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be cleaned.  Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me hear joy and gladness.  The bones that are humbled, make them rejoice."
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2009, 12:27:41 PM »

Thanks for your kind advices.

You're certainly right. Fr. Zakaria will celebrate the liturgy.

Regarding the congregation, I think that many of them (if not the majority) are Mexican converts.

I will tell you on monday how I found the liturgy.

Best wishes
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2009, 12:08:51 AM »

Hello

I finally attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated according to the Coptic Rite (Liturgy of St. Basil) at St. Mark and St. Mary's Church, located in Tlayacapan, Mexico.

It's longer than the Byzantine liturgy (or it appeared to be longer). I say this because I arrived a little bit late to the Church (about at 10:10) and the Liturgy had already started at 9:15 I think. I arrived late because I had to take two buses to get from my city to Tlayacapan and they're not very fast.

When I arrived the part of the incensation had already passed (I arrived when the Readings from St. Paul were read). The whole Divine Liturgy was in Spanish with some parts in Greek (the Trisagion, the Doxa Patri, the Eleison Imas and some blessings), which is very good because the people can understand but all was done according to Coptic chant. Not many people attended the liturgy today. This is because the Coptic community live in different cities and they can't all come. There are also some local converts who are very welcoming and helped us to follow the rites of the Divine Liturgy.

I found the text of the liturgy, specially that of the Anaphora, to be similar to the Byzantine St. Basil (even though I did not bring the text to compare) but even more to the Traditional Latin Anaphora (it's long time since I don't attend an Old Roman Liturgy but I can remember the basic elements of the Anaphora). The liturgy stresses the sacrificial character of the eucharist and the fact that in the Anaphora people answer to the priest "we believe" was very moving.

I have a question. Is it a common practice in the Coptic Church to have the Gospel read by a lector and not by the priest? I have not seen this in the Byzantine Liturgy (or the Roman liturgy, Traditional or modern).

I was able to read a little bit about the Liturgy of St Basil in one of the sites that were posted and saw that in the USA, Syriac Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch is conmemorated. Here Fr. only conmemorated Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church.

At the end of the liturgy when people received Communion, an anthem in Spanish was sung, accompanied by guitar.

When the liturgy finished, the Deacon started to teach the congregation about the Creed. The Coptic church is doing a very good work of Evangelization among the local people. The told everybody about how they must fast this Lent.

I had a conversation with both Fr. Zakaria and him at the end of the liturgy, they were very kind and welcoming. Fr. gave me a book to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I really saw an environment of holiness and good will.

Well this was my experience.  Smiley



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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2009, 12:12:09 AM »

Quote
Prostrations in the Orthodox church was one of the things that really contributed to my conversion.

Interesting.
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2009, 12:16:39 AM »

Hello

I have a question. Is it a common practice in the Coptic Church to have the Gospel read by a lector and not by the priest? I have not seen this in the Byzantine Liturgy (or the Roman liturgy, Traditional or modern).
That was actually a deacon, not a lector.  The Copts ordain deacons and sub-deacons much younger (and allowe them to marry after).

It is usual, in the rite of Constantinople, if a deacon is present that he reads the Gospel.

Quote
I was able to read a little bit about the Liturgy of St Basil in one of the sites that were posted and saw that in the USA, Syriac Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch is conmemorated. Here Fr. only conmemorated Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church.

I recall there being a commemoration in the service books from Egypt for the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Patriarch of Antioch.  I took it as a vestige of the days of the Henotikon.  Neither were said, as I recall.

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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2009, 12:31:50 AM »

Interesting.

It is because, at least for me, the prostrations represent absolute surrender.  In no other church has my body been so involved in worship.  When I go to church now, it feels like I'm actually going to do something, to do the work of worship.  The prostrations were really just a confirmation of what Orthodoxy really is, and that is the complete faith of the apostles.  Because for years my faith has been all cerebral, and the physical aspect of Orthodox worship has taught me so much about the process of deification.  It's hard.  After a while it hurts.  Whatever, I'm just rambling.
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2009, 12:43:16 AM »

Whatever, I'm just rambling.

Actually, you make perfect sense.  You put it very well.
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2009, 12:31:27 PM »

Among the Orthodox (both OCA-Russian and Greek) and the Melkites in Mexico, the Gospel is read by the priest or by the deacon, but you're certainly right. The deacon who read the Gospel was indeed very young. That's why I thought that he was a lector and not a deacon.

Regarding the prostrations, the church has pews, and the congregation knelt during the consecration and in other parts of the liturgy. The conseration was indeed very moving, solemn and holy moment.
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« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2009, 12:57:25 PM »

Among the Orthodox (both OCA-Russian and Greek) and the Melkites in Mexico, the Gospel is read by the priest or by the deacon, but you're certainly right. The deacon who read the Gospel was indeed very young. That's why I thought that he was a lector and not a deacon.

Regarding the prostrations, the church has pews, and the congregation knelt during the consecration and in other parts of the liturgy. The conseration was indeed very moving, solemn and holy moment.

I'm glad you had such a good experience.  Glory to God!
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« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2009, 01:39:43 PM »

That's not quite right. subdeacons are rare, almost never younger than 20's, and deacons are almost unheared of.

The highest ranking person present should read the Gospel.  If a bishop is present he will. However, the celebrating priest has prayers to say during the Gospel. So if there are two priests one will read it. If there is only one priest, then a deacon, if present will read it. Since almost no churches have deacons, it usually falls to a reader to read it. If there are no readers present, and chanter may read it.

It is common practice to ordain children as young or 6 or 7 as chanters in order to bring them up serving the Lord. Normally one does not become a reader until 20's, although some churches may make teenagers readers.

Deacons are most certainly not allowed to marry after ordination. Subdeacons are allowed to marry, but if their wife dies and they remarry, they are no longer allowed to serve. Readers and chanters are allowed to marry. If their wife dies and they remarry they may continue serving, but may never be elevated to a higher rank. If their second wife dies and they remarry again, they can no longer serve.

People often colloquially refer to chanters and readers as 'deacons' because they serve in the place of deacons in the Liturgy when no deacon is present, however they are not deacons.

Hello

I have a question. Is it a common practice in the Coptic Church to have the Gospel read by a lector and not by the priest? I have not seen this in the Byzantine Liturgy (or the Roman liturgy, Traditional or modern).
That was actually a deacon, not a lector.  The Copts ordain deacons and sub-deacons much younger (and allowe them to marry after).

It is usual, in the rite of Constantinople, if a deacon is present that he reads the Gospel.

Quote
I was able to read a little bit about the Liturgy of St Basil in one of the sites that were posted and saw that in the USA, Syriac Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch is conmemorated. Here Fr. only conmemorated Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church.

I recall there being a commemoration in the service books from Egypt for the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Patriarch of Antioch.  I took it as a vestige of the days of the Henotikon.  Neither were said, as I recall.


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« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2009, 08:56:37 PM »

It's possible to see a subdeacon at a very young age, especially if brought up in the Church completely, like a priest's son.  I know one who became a subdeacon at 16.

I became a reader at 17.  It's very common in some churches to have readers at a young age, especially since the church spends so much energy raising sons to be "deacons" (in the colloquial sense).  I was a singer at age 6 (HG Bishop Moussa ordained me).  By the time, I joined to become a Sunday School teacher, I became reader.

Where I go to pray, it's common to have readers read the gospel, even though traditionally, the highest rank available should read it (and we do have plenty of subdeacons).  But either the priest needs to do prayers as Jonathan mentioned, or the priest specifically asks someone to read it, even if another priest is available.

There's a church that I used to go in Jersey City, where they have a schedule:  who would be altar servants, who would read certain readings (including gospel), and who would be choir leader.  That system was very handy, especially it was at a time when everyone lives in Jersey City, and everyone worked there or near there, and so there was a huge "deacon" commitment every Sunday (this church also has an excellent priest who taught the hymns so well; I'm forever indebted).

And yes, a full Deacon (this time not in the colloquial sense) cannot marry if not married already.  Subdeacon and below can get married (I just didn't know about the second marriage rules; that's interesting).

So it's very possible the person reading the gospel was a Reader (aka Lector).

God bless.
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« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2009, 11:19:30 AM »


So it's very possible the person reading the gospel was a Reader (aka Lector).


Pretty much, not to nit pick, but just for interest sake: My understanding is that a Reader is a minor order in all Orthodox churches. The are ordained (or more accurately tonsured) by a bishop. A Lector on the other hand is a lay person, male or female, who has been chosen to read epistles in the absence of a reader, and who is in no way consecrated. Lectors are used by Catholics and some Eastern Orthodox. Is my understanding correct, or do some use the term Lector otherwise?
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« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2009, 11:32:43 AM »


So it's very possible the person reading the gospel was a Reader (aka Lector).


Pretty much, not to nit pick, but just for interest sake: My understanding is that a Reader is a minor order in all Orthodox churches. The are ordained (or more accurately tonsured) by a bishop. A Lector on the other hand is a lay person, male or female, who has been chosen to read epistles in the absence of a reader, and who is in no way consecrated. Lectors are used by Catholics and some Eastern Orthodox. Is my understanding correct, or do some use the term Lector otherwise?

I don't know.  I assumed that when he mentioned "Lector," it was just another way of saying an ordained minor order by a bishop (females theoretically can also be "Readers").  Convents have Singers, Readers, and Deaconesses, but the Coptic Church considers them consecrated, not "ordained," and cannot enter the altar.  You might be write though.  I've noticed prominent choir members (male or female) would read the epistles, and the priest would read the gospel.

A singer is also tonsured by a bishop, not a priest.
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« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2009, 11:48:19 AM »

I don't know.  I assumed that when he mentioned "Lector," it was just another way of saying an ordained minor order by a bishop...

Yes.  "Lector" is just a synonym for "Reader".  AFAIK, no distinction between someone who is tonsured or not tonsured as such is implied when using one or the other term.

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(females theoretically can also be "Readers"). 

For clarification, are you speaking of the Oriental Orthodox exclusively when you mention this, and/or are you referring to the practice of consecration that you later mention?  Among the Eastern Orthodox it is very rare to see tonsured female readers, though I have heard of it being done.
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« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2009, 05:51:35 PM »

For clarification, are you speaking of the Oriental Orthodox exclusively when you mention this, and/or are you referring to the practice of consecration that you later mention?  Among the Eastern Orthodox it is very rare to see tonsured female readers, though I have heard of it being done.

Just for clarification's sake, I've noticed I have been vague:

Quote
Convents have Singers, Readers, and Deaconesses, but the Coptic Church considers them consecrated, not "ordained," and cannot enter the altar.

I'm speaking here of the Coptic Church (don't know much about OO practice).  I've also heard that in California, the Coptic diocese there is trying to establish a female choir and dress them up in white as the male singers do.  I've also heard that they even allow them to read.  These are in churches, not convents.

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I've noticed prominent choir members (male or female) would read the epistles, and the priest would read the gospel.

Here, I was speaking of my experience with Eastern Orthodoxy, specifically Antiochian.

God bless.
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Vain existence can never exist, for \\\"unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.\\\" (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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