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Author Topic: Coptic Orthodox Liturgy:What went wrong?  (Read 2788 times) Average Rating: 0
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Timos
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« on: June 13, 2005, 03:00:53 PM »

Hi, umm, lately I've been thinking and whenever I visit different Coptic parishes, for some reason during Liturgy, theres complete or semi-chaos going on during the entire service. And the priest has to wait for the peopel to keep quiet or he ignores them and keeps on going. Also, do you ever notice that the chanters don't know what they are signing at all? Like 5 people wil be singing "Rejoice O Mary" and the rest would be singing "and with thy spirit"? And also how overpowering the sound of the cymbals and trinagle are where you can't hear what they are singing.

I don't mean to rant, but I just couldn't help but notice this in 99% of parishes I've been to in North America and even Egypt (went once when I was like 10).

I remember going once to a Coptic parish on Sunday and the Liturgy was really beautiful and quiet. Part of the reason was that there was an organ being played with the congregation responses and a choir and the chaters alternated and so no one got out of line. Also, the priest cut some bits of the liturgy to shorten it like insteado f saying the same petition 3 times, he only said it once. For example, instead of saying all the names of the saints, he said the virgin Mary part at the begining (Most of all the pure full of glory...) and then the saints name of the day. I felt like because of these slight changes, I could worship God more thoroughly instead of in the clamor which I was used to hearing in most churches. What do you all think could be done to improve Coptic churches?
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yBeayf
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2005, 04:01:21 PM »

Man, that slightly chaotic atmosphere is part of what makes Eastern worship so great, what with everybody lighting candles randomly and venerating icons and babies running pell-mell across the church with their mothers chasing after them and so forth. There's a reason why the clergy call out "Wisdom" and "Attend" at certain points -- it's to tell people to shut up and listen, this is the important bit (not that the other parts aren't important, though).

Eastern Liturgies are by nature rather florid, dramatic, and over-the-top, with much repetition and rhetorical flourish, and they lose a lot of what makes they great when they are abridged or "cleaned up." If you want a sober and restrained service, check out the western rites.

And organs combined with eastern chants are an abomination. They're bad enough with Byzantine chant; I shudder to think of what they would sound like when mixed with the perfectly beautiful Coptic chants.
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SeanMc
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2005, 04:32:24 PM »

Sounds like modern Anglican worship. People sitting and standing whenever they want, kids running about and going around the altar (though, there's a children's liturgy during mass), people doing stuff. I found it very confusing, but on the bright side, they had really comfy seats and there's no kneeling on Sundays (as in Roman churches).

Of course that was with the Book of Alternative Services, not the BCP. I'm going to try out an Anglo-Catholic parish on for size one day.

But having never been to an Eastern liturgy, I suspect that the chaos is more spiritual than secular, in which case, that's good.

I think that Solomon's temple was probably a very noisy place too.
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yBeayf
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2005, 05:36:51 PM »

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But having never been to an Eastern liturgy, I suspect that the chaos is more spiritual than secular, in which case, that's good.

That's exactly it. Especially in churches with no pews, people are free to move around and do their stuff. At Russian parishes, there's often a steady stream of servers going back and forth from the altar to the narthex, taking names to be commemorated and delivering prosphoras. People are clustered in the narthex, buying candles and prosphora and writing down names; people are making the rounds lighting buttloads of candles; and the clergy and choir are just going on with the service like none of it is happening.

I was at the vespers service at the local Coptic church which was held at the same time as the preparations to receive Pope Shenouda at the end of the service, and it was absolute pandemonium. There were dozens of deacons rushing around getting stuff ready, probably a thousand people packed into the church, and several bishops and priests with a small army of servers and a swinging censer fighting their way through the crowds to do several processions around the inside of the church. It was great. While I personally prefer the quietness and sobriety of Western worship, it's still good to experience a bit of sacred chaos every once in a while.
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mzaki
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2005, 01:51:25 PM »

Please understand that what you are experiencing is not a flaw in the Coptic Liturgy itself.  The Coptic Liturgies are structured after the prayers of Saints of the earliest Christianity - St. Mark, St. Cyril, St. Basil, St. Gregory.  To shorten them is to abbreviate the prayers of these great fathers.

And the music of these liturgies is adapted from some of the most sacred music of Ancient Egypt and early Christian music.  In fact, scholars have spent their lives studying the music of Coptic liturgy and found that much of it is in fact homologous with Ancient Egyptian and Pharaonic music.  The triangle and cymbals are tempo-keeping devices that add liveliness to the otherwise somber and meditative music.  To introduce western instruments would be, as one has mentioned, an abomination to the rich musical culture and tradition of the Coptic Church.

Now, I can not disagree with you that the chaos in the churches is distracting.  It exists, and it is distracting.  But to fault the Liturgy and music with this chaos is unfair.  The fact is, we must remember to distinguish culture from faith.

And the even sadder fact is that modern Egyptian culture has much to do with the chaotic atmosphere that one will often encounter in a Coptic service.  There is NOTHING wrong with the Liturgy.  There is something wrong with the mentality and approach of the modern Egyptian people to their ancient Church that is full of treasures.  The attitude of the congregants towards the Church and the Liturgy is what needs to be changed, not the Church NOR the Liturgy.
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Jonathan
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2005, 01:04:36 PM »

The cymbals and triangle are supposed to be played quietly to keep time, never over powering the voices.  It's often not done that way, but that's the way it's supposed to be.

Often many of the deacons are ignorant.  If everyone is following one leader who knows what they're doing then it can go well, but if everyone's trying to be the leader it sounds terrible.  Rejoice O Mary is not near and with your spirit... so that's not a case of two people starting different hymns that could go at the same place, that's a case of people completely not paying attention, which isn't a problem with the Liturgy, just with the deacons.  I've seen mistakes with the responses, but as long as whoever's wrong backs down it still goes smoothly.  And I've never seen a priest have to wait for people to be quiet.

If the deacons and congregation show respect, that's all that's needed.  No change to the Liturgy would cause that, the Liturgy isn't the problem.

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SaintShenouti
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2005, 04:08:27 PM »

Haha, I really enjoyed the responses Beayf had given.  "Sacred chaos" indeed! Grin

But really, I would venture to say that had it not been for the dominance of Arab culture over the Egyptian demotic, things would be quite different.  I would also say that from my own experiences, the sort of unordered chaos as referenced by Timos is decreasing time passes, and that it is definitely not the majority of parishes that have these troubles.  What once was a world of Coptic hymnology only known by monks and a few elite learned deacons and laymen is now a structured library of books and musical notes, accompanied by vast recordings that were unavailable in the past.  Things are changed for the better, and it is only a matter of time before all Coptic Orthodox churches return to their former glory as shown the world during the days Abba Shenouti the Archmandrite or Pope Athanasius the Apostolic.

Quote
The cymbals and triangle are supposed to be played quietly to keep time, never over powering the voices.  It's often not done that way, but that's the way it's supposed to be.

I concur.  Keeping time in a graceful manner was their original purpose.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2005, 04:11:09 PM by SaintShenouti » Logged
Addai
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2005, 11:52:11 PM »

the dominance of Arab culture over the Egyptian demotic,


yeah I was going to mention Arab culture.  ÃƒÆ’‚ I think that is the prime thing.  ÃƒÆ’‚  My Coptic parish is so much noiser than the Antiochian, Russian, and Armenian ones I visited when I was a seeker.


Of course I found the Egyptians much more friendly and hospitable than a number of parishes that I visited.  ÃƒÆ’‚  Which was a major factor influencing me in settling down there.


But I do got to say,  Egyptians on average are way noisy!!  ÃƒÆ’‚  Except for monks, priest, bishops etc. who seem to have learned the spiritual benefits of being quiet.


And its funny.  ÃƒÆ’‚ And in some ways not so funny.  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚ But some folks at my parish almost couldn't be quiet to save their life.  ÃƒÆ’‚  This has been a factor actually that has caused us problems in our neighborhood.  ÃƒÆ’‚ We moved a few years ago, from one end of the street to a mile up the road.  ÃƒÆ’‚ To a very sleepy quiet neighborhood.  ÃƒÆ’‚ The church is surrounded by homes, apartments and condos.


lol but things became substantially less quiet when we showed up.  ÃƒÆ’‚  This actually caused us problems with our neighbors.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Kids running around and yelling outside.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Parents gabbing, ignoring their kids.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Even late at night.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Like 1000pm or after midnight etc. during some of our special services (like advent or pascha).  ÃƒÆ’‚  The neighbors have called the cops on the church I think a few dozen times with various disturbing the peace complainsts in the 2 years we've been there.  ÃƒÆ’‚  And it caused us a lot of opposition recently, when the church was looking to get its buidling expansion permit with our city.


We actually had two go to city hall twice because the neighbors fought us tooth and nail.  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚ (I think they were mostly mad about the noise, even though they did bring up other concerns as well).


I have to say I feel sorry for my priest, who is an angel of a man.  ÃƒÆ’‚ He begged the congregation several times to keep the noise down.  ÃƒÆ’‚  And I think people are finally learning and doing the best they can now, at least most of the time.  ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚ But I have been impressed how lackadaisacal Arabic parenting can be.  ÃƒÆ’‚  Not just letting the kids run around bezerk.  ÃƒÆ’‚  But even some of the loud stomping, talking in church etc. that some kids do.  ÃƒÆ’‚  My Czechoslovak father would have wrung my neck if I would have done half the stuff  in our old Lutheran church that sometimes goes on during divine liturgy.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2005, 11:59:57 PM by Addai » Logged

SaintShenouti
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2005, 03:52:38 PM »

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The neighbors have called the cops on the church I think a few dozen times with various disturbing the peace complainsts in the 2 years we've been there.

They shake the earth with their praise.

Sacred chaos!  Grin
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Addai
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2005, 10:29:16 PM »

They shake the earth with their praise.

Sacred chaos!ÂÂ  Grin


heh  ÃƒÆ’‚ Smiley


Well sometimes the chaos is less than sacred.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Like when you hear lots of noise outside during the eucharist time.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Like during the time when the bread and wine are served.  (you know how most of the time.  ÃƒÆ’‚ They are served seperately.  And it served for the men side.  Then the womens side.  ÃƒÆ’‚ And the priest and deacons have to consume the rest.  ÃƒÆ’‚ And that takes a while, when you consider all the liturgy involved.).


My priest has developed some affective ways of dealing with this.  ÃƒÆ’‚  Like if its to bad, he basically stops the liturgy and waits.  ÃƒÆ’‚ And if it goes on, he casts a baleful stare at the congregation.  ÃƒÆ’‚  And if it continues he may let a fierce string of Arabic words that really gets people behaving.  ÃƒÆ’‚ As well as translate in English the gist.  ÃƒÆ’‚  Like kids who wander outside to play in between when the bread is served and when the wine is served will not be allowed to back to take it.


At one time he threatended to lock the doors on those going outside during the eucharist.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Because in the early Nicene times that was how they did it.  ÃƒÆ’‚  After the kiss of peace.  ÃƒÆ’‚ The catechumens were dismissed and the church was locked.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Barring any late comers from taking the eucharist.


And this is not the problem now that it use to be.

« Last Edit: July 11, 2005, 10:35:22 PM by Addai » Logged

deusveritasest
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2009, 11:14:07 PM »


Of course that was with the Book of Alternative Services, not the BCP.

Ummmm....

I don't know if you know this.

But if they're not even using the BCP, that means that they are liturgically rather liberal.

Anglo-Catholics are typically so liturgically high that they usually use something other than the BCP, something like the English Missal.

The BCP is what liturgically moderate Anglicans use.

[EDIT]: Oops I necromanced again. Sorry.
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SolEX01
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2009, 01:16:53 AM »

[EDIT]: Oops I necromanced again. Sorry.

The thread was 4+ years old.   Smiley
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deusveritasest
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2009, 01:55:55 AM »

[EDIT]: Oops I necromanced again. Sorry.

The thread was 4+ years old.   Smiley

I realized that after the fact.  Sad
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Pilgrim
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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2009, 04:24:06 PM »

Do you know what they did to necromancers in the OT?
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deusveritasest
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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2009, 08:15:28 PM »


Do you know what they did to necromancers in the OT?

LMAO
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