Wednesday, February 29, 2012. 3:15 - 4:30 pm

The Ladder of a Soul's Ascent: the Structure and Use of Liturgical Music in the Coptic Orthodox Church
by Bishoy Dawood, Hon. B.A., MTS, PhD student in the Faculty of Theology (St. Michael’s College)

In the three surviving liturgies of the Coptic Orthodox Church, namely the Anaphoras of St. Basil, St. Gregory, and St. Cyril, the entire liturgical service is chanted, and the majority of hymns for each part of those liturgies have been handed down from cantor to disciple as an oral tradition for centuries. While the Coptic Church did pray other Anaphora’s in the past, the hymns for those Anaphora’s did not survive, and it is only because the hymns did not survive that those liturgies are no longer prayed in the Coptic Church, even if the texts of those liturgies exist. This demonstrates the fact that in the Coptic Church, liturgical music is essential for liturgical prayer -- and even the survival of the liturgies themselves.

In this presentation, Dawood will present some pieces of the liturgical hymns of the Anaphora of St. Basil, and using those pieces as examples, he will argue that the music of the Anaphora is designed in such a way as to resemble the act of raising a sacrificial offering of praise. The hymnology, he will argue, takes the souls of the persons praying the liturgy up a ladder, allowing the priests, deacons, and congregation to ascend higher in musical scales until they all together work their way to heights of praise before partaking of communion.

The hymns used in this presentation will be from the CD production of: “The Rite and Hymns of the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil” by the Heritage of the Coptic Orthodox Church choir, available in the link below: