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Ansgar
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« on: October 14, 2011, 03:32:55 PM »

I don't kow very much about oriental orthodox prayer, so I wondered if I could ask you guys. I have on several occasions read that oriental orthodox christian are to pray seven times a day but other times it seems like that this is not practised anymore. So I was just wondering if the oriental churches still practise this or do you have indinvidual prayer ruels like many eastern orthodox christian does?
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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2011, 04:54:07 PM »

Dear Ansgar,

The Book of Hours which my own community uses has seven sets of prayer for the seven hours, these are:

Prime
Terce
Sext
None
Vespers
Compline
Midnight

Of course these are using Western names, but the Eastern Orthodox have had the same tradition, with local variations, at times in the past. The personal rule given a father of confession will call for some of these hours to be prayed, either in part or in full. Especially the hour of Prime in the morning, Vespers and Compline in the evening, might be required. But some will pray more of the hours, others less. These prayers express the close connection between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the monastic tradition. To a great extent the ordinary lay person is called to live a monastic life in the world and is offered the same prayers and a similar ascesis.

In the British Orthodox Diocese of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, of which I am a priest, we use our own edition of the Coptic Orthodox Book of Hours. I have found these prayers to be very important in my own spiritual life.

Father Peter
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William
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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2011, 05:00:51 PM »

Father, what about Matins?
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 05:15:36 PM »

Hi William

In the Coptic Orthodox Tradition we have the ancient monastic practice of praying the seven hours.

I think that the tradition of Matins/Vespers is rather different. Prime is our first prayer of the day, then Terce at mid-morning, Sext at Noon, None in the mid-afternoon, Vespers in the evening, and Compline on retiring.

These are not the same cycle as liturgical prayers in Church, but are the personal prayers of the Daily Office. During Holy Week the special Hours are prayed in the Church, and associated with the Liturgy and other Church services some of the Hours are also prayed. But they are found in the Book of Hours which is the essential tool of all Coptic and British Orthodox Christians and are used each day to some extent.

The Matins/Vespers tradition allows for prayers in the morning and evening, while the Hours provides for prayers throughout the day.
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2011, 11:03:07 PM »

Father, what about Matins?

I think there's a lot of confusion with the terms used...

Most Coptic Churches refer to "the Raising of Morning Incense" as "Matins".... And refer to both the 11th hour prayer and "the Raising of Evening Incense" as Vespers. From what I've heard, and I may be wrong, what Eastern Orthodox call Matins and Vespers is more similar to the Coptic Evening, Midnight, and Morning Praise, which is something again different from the Raising of Incense and the Canonical Hours...

The 7 Canonical Hours are prayed in the monasteries daily, in the churches on days when the Raising of Incense and Liturgy are both prayed, and all or some subset of the hours are prayed by the laity at home when they don't pray them at Church. No priest is required. The 11th hour is one of the 7 and is called Vespers.

The Vespers (or Evening) Praise, the Midnight Praise, and the Doxology of Prime are prayed daily in most monasteries, are often but not always prayed in the churches on Sundays and some subset of other days, and are sometimes prayed at home by the laity, again, no priest is required.

Vespers and Matins (or the Raising of Evening and Morning Incense) are prayed in the Church at the Altar, and require a priest. Morning Incense used to be prayed before the Liturgy, especially on days when the Liturgy is late in the day due to fasting. But now it is almost always attached to the Liturgy since people can't commute to Church twice in most cases. The Morning Incense is always prayed if there is a Liturgy, but the Evening Incense is often omitted, especially on weekdays (it is usually prayed on most Saturdays in most Churches).

So it's really confusing that there is something called "Vespers" in all three when trying to find good equivalent English terms for the services.

If everything is being prayed, for example on a Sunday, Vespers Praise will be prayed, then Vespers from the Book of the Hours is prayed (along with the 9th and 12th hours as well), then Vespers (or the Raising of Evening Incense) is prayed.

Then the Midnight Hour is prayed, followed by the Midnight Praise (which most closely parallels EO Vespers/Matins).

Then in the morning, the Prime hour of the Book of Hours is prayed, followed by the Doxology of Prime (or Morning Praise) is prayed, followed the Raising of Morning Incense (or Matins), followed by the 3rd and 6th hours of the Book of the Hours, followed by the Liturgy.... Very confusing and overlapping terminology.
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