Author Topic: Gestures During the (Coptic) Liturgy  (Read 137 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline iohanne

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 62
Gestures During the (Coptic) Liturgy
« on: November 08, 2018, 01:20:02 AM »
Almost half a decade ago when I was still living with my parents who happened to live near the Coptic community centre/Church. I used to happily attend the Liturgy of St. Basil at 6am if I could wake up early enough and then go and attend the later 11am Holy Mass with my parents.  I think back fondly at these experiences but I have, to this day, many questions that have been unanswered even in the modern era of Google. 

My question today pertains to the gestures of the Liturgy.  Of course, I am familiar with and have practiced since my youth up the sign of the Cross, kneeling, bowing the head, making the cross on my forehead, lips and heart at the Gospel, etc.; and I am also acquainted with the metanias of the Byzantine rite but I noticed that at specific points of the Liturgy, gestures were taken whose symbolism eluded me.  I was hoping you could enlighten me?

1) There are pews in the Coptic parishes that I attended and so, unless it was a particular solemn moment, most bowing and metanias are done as a bow at the waist over the backseat of the pew in front of you.  However, at the solemn moments, a few people will step out into the aisle and make a full prostration.  This, I understand.  However, I noticed that sometimes the congregation would touch the floor and then get back up again.  I can't remember if they would make the sign of the Cross afterwards.  When does this happen?  Why only these times do you touch the floor and not the other times?  From my outsider perspective, it looks almost like the 'full-form' metanias in the Byzantine praxis. 

2)  At another point, I remember the congregation would have both hands before their lips, palms facing inwards toward the mouth and then alternate that with the back of the fingers facing towards the mouth.  I think a prayer or a response even accompanies this gesture.  I find it beautiful how reverently the Copts performed this rite but it is quite mysterious.  What is the reason and the context of the action in the liturgy?

* * *

In addition, I was wondering if anyone would like to share liturgical gestures that appear in their own rites that they've noticed isn't in others?  I've noticed, as I've mentioned, that only Latins cross their forehead, lips and breast before the Gospel as we dialogue with the priest and respond with a doxology, "Gloria tibi, Domine." - "+Glory to +Thee, O +Lord."  Something like this.  To my knowledge, no one else does this? 

This topic, for me, isn't necessarily even restricted to the gestures of the plebs sancta Dei, the laity, but also could include priestly gestures before the altar of the Lord but, unfortunately, I am not so familiar with the specific sacerdotal gestures, even in the Latin rite, much less the Byzantine one so I can't quite share an example.  I do know that in the usus antiquior the priest's gestures seem very... I don't want to offend... robotic?  To me?  I find it charming and gentlemanly, everything appropriately and effectively done but with a quietly fussy restraint. 

Offline Apostolos

  • Protopentekaidekarchos
  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 830
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Church of Greece
Re: Gestures During the (Coptic) Liturgy
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 11:42:38 AM »
Please ignore, wrong thread
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 11:43:22 AM by Apostolos »
Ἦχος Πρῶτος

Τέχνη μελουργός, σούς ἀγασθεῖσα κρότους
Πρώτην νέμει σοὶ τάξιν, ὦ τῆς ἀξίας
Ἦχος ὁ πρῶτος μουσική κληθείς τέχνη
Πρῶτος παρ'ἡμῶν εὐλογείσθω τοῖς λόγοις.
Τὰ πρῶτα πρῶτε τῶν καλῶν λαχῶν φέρεις
Πρωτεῖα νίκης πανταχοῦ πάντων ἔχεις.

Offline Jonathan

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 955
Re: Gestures During the (Coptic) Liturgy
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 03:20:04 PM »
Almost half a decade ago when I was still living with my parents who happened to live near the Coptic community centre/Church. I used to happily attend the Liturgy of St. Basil at 6am if I could wake up early enough and then go and attend the later 11am Holy Mass with my parents.  I think back fondly at these experiences but I have, to this day, many questions that have been unanswered even in the modern era of Google. 

My question today pertains to the gestures of the Liturgy.  Of course, I am familiar with and have practiced since my youth up the sign of the Cross, kneeling, bowing the head, making the cross on my forehead, lips and heart at the Gospel, etc.; and I am also acquainted with the metanias of the Byzantine rite but I noticed that at specific points of the Liturgy, gestures were taken whose symbolism eluded me.  I was hoping you could enlighten me?

1) There are pews in the Coptic parishes that I attended and so, unless it was a particular solemn moment, most bowing and metanias are done as a bow at the waist over the backseat of the pew in front of you.  However, at the solemn moments, a few people will step out into the aisle and make a full prostration.  This, I understand.  However, I noticed that sometimes the congregation would touch the floor and then get back up again.  I can't remember if they would make the sign of the Cross afterwards.  When does this happen?  Why only these times do you touch the floor and not the other times?  From my outsider perspective, it looks almost like the 'full-form' metanias in the Byzantine praxis. 

2)  At another point, I remember the congregation would have both hands before their lips, palms facing inwards toward the mouth and then alternate that with the back of the fingers facing towards the mouth.  I think a prayer or a response even accompanies this gesture.  I find it beautiful how reverently the Copts performed this rite but it is quite mysterious.  What is the reason and the context of the action in the liturgy?

* * *

In addition, I was wondering if anyone would like to share liturgical gestures that appear in their own rites that they've noticed isn't in others?  I've noticed, as I've mentioned, that only Latins cross their forehead, lips and breast before the Gospel as we dialogue with the priest and respond with a doxology, "Gloria tibi, Domine." - "+Glory to +Thee, O +Lord."  Something like this.  To my knowledge, no one else does this? 

This topic, for me, isn't necessarily even restricted to the gestures of the plebs sancta Dei, the laity, but also could include priestly gestures before the altar of the Lord but, unfortunately, I am not so familiar with the specific sacerdotal gestures, even in the Latin rite, much less the Byzantine one so I can't quite share an example.  I do know that in the usus antiquior the priest's gestures seem very... I don't want to offend... robotic?  To me?  I find it charming and gentlemanly, everything appropriately and effectively done but with a quietly fussy restraint.

Kissing both sides of the hands is done when giving thanks is mentioned, representing giving thanks for everything: what we have (front of hands) and what we don't have (back or hands).

Touching the ground isn't significant. It's just a prostration, and touching the ground is just making the bow from the waist deep enough. On weekdays the priest makes a full prostration, head to the ground, and the people either return like or touch the ground with their hand. On Sundays priests who respect the prohibition on kneeling touch the ground with their hands. Other times you see people bowing they don't touch the ground because it isn't a prostration: down and up, but bowing for the duration of a prayer.

Offline WPM

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 4,964
Re: Gestures During the (Coptic) Liturgy
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 03:38:00 PM »
I know how to Bow Kneel or Make the Sign of the Cross
The Sign and Prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Offline Justin Kolodziej

  • Goths and rivetheads are entering the Kingdom of God before me
  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,217
  • Screwing up the Church since 2017
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: ruins of Constantinople, Met. of Atlanta
Re: Gestures During the (Coptic) Liturgy
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 06:15:53 PM »
I'm not sure where those small signs of the Cross came from in the Roman Liturgy but it has something to do with the Gospel being ever on the mind and on the lips and in the heart.

The old Roman Missal's rubrics for the priest were very precisely defined, so that may have something to do with it seeming a tad robotic. The current one, not so much.
Too many theologists, not enough theologians.