Why don't we pray offering of evening incense during Great Lent?

Just wandering what the reason is for this rite... any spiritual meaning or contemplation is also wanted even if it is not the actual reason.

Also wandering if we are supposed to pray aspasmos hymns during the weekdays because my rites book says no but in mlm Ibrahims recording he has recorded it under weekday hymns?

God Bless


  • Well lents liturgies are strict to be at night. You are supposed to finish liturgy at Vespers time so it doesn't make sense to start a service for the next day. I hope others have better explanations and sources. This is just my thought.
    About the Aspasmos, which book says you don't say them in weekdays?
    Also about the recording set... That whole recording ser is confusing as one can be because there is the rite for Jonah's, weekdays and weekends. That's why not much people know what to say at the amen alleluia for jonah.
  • I have a small brown book called "Coptic Hymns: A Book of Hymns for All Occasions of the Coptic Year" St Antonios Coptic Church. In it states that the cymbals are not used and aspasmos hymns are not chanted. It would be great if someone had other sources becuase the Deacons Service book of SUS says that the aspasmos hymns are chanted?

    Also what do we say for the Concluding Canon for Jonahs Fast?

    God Bless
  • I don't really take that book as a good source. Yes the cymbals are not used during the weekdays but doesn't HAVE to be chanted with the cymbals.

  • Cantor Fahim records this conclusion for 3 days of Jonah:

    The issue is that when people say somatos, they tend to always say the lent one, je fe-etav-ernistavin. 
  • Thanks Mina, that's really enlightening.
    Dear Faithfull Servant 1, I don't think we shouldn't say the Aspasmos. It is a Greek loan word meaning "Peace" (as I believe, at least roughly), so it follows that we pray the litany of peace during Lent, so why omit them? I don't think that's right...
  • It worth mentioning that Wagdi Bishara also has some other text that he puts in place in 'O penshois'...but he still says somatos.
  • Thanks guys a lot! Is there any answer ot the original topic though?

    God Bless
  • No one? Remenkemi do you know or maybe RamezM?

    any answer would do!

    God Bless
  • Faithful Servant,

    I will write something God willing soon. What Minatasgeel said is essentially correct, I will just add to it some sources and background to fill in the picture. Hang on....Canon Law exams are demanding!
  • May God help you Ramez in your exams!

    God Bless

  • Coptic Canon Law Exam

    Question 1-20: Say anything at all about Coptic Canon Law.

    Answer: LOL

  • Dear Faithful,

    Thanks for the prayer! Allow me to share with you the little I was able to find.

    In order to analyze the frequency of celebrating the Eucharist vis-a-vis other daily services (matins, vespers, hours) we have to begin by separating the two and understanding that they are not intrinsically related. This is a common misconception today, that somehow celebrating the Liturgy necessitates praying Matins and Vespers at least, or even just Matins. This is simply not true in the ancient tradition. Initially, and until at least the 5th century in Egypt (and later elsewhere) the Eucharist was celebrated mainly on Sunday, and later became Saturday and Sunday. On the other hand, daily services such as matins and vespers are within the realm of the so-called Daily Office, or the Horologion. The very idea that one (or the Church) should pray everyday morning and evening goes as far back as Apostolic times (cf. Acts) and even in Judaism, prayer at fixed times was an ancient tradition. In Egypt specifically, we first hear of evening prayer daily in Origen and Clement of Alexandria (3rd cent.) So essentially, these are not services designed to prepare for a liturgy in any way, but daily prayers to sanctify and bless the entire day. Christians were encouraged to attend the prayers in common morning and evening (certainly it was easier if home, church, and work were all local), and even by the 4th cent monastic sources, we also find that monks gathered for a morning and evening gathering, but not necessarily Eucharist.

    All this had nothing to do with Lent per se, but I think this is an important step to understand the relationship between vespers and liturgy. Now naturally if Eucharist is not a daily event and vespers is, then it must have been the norm to pray vespers without any liturgy following it the next day. Now with regards to Lent, most scholars place the development of Lenten tradition to some time after Constantine (4th cent). In Egypt particularly, Lenten liturgies were on Wednesday and Friday (in addition to the Sat and Sun throughout the year). Some scholars have argued, based on a hint in the 4th cent historian Socrates, that the Wed and Fri Eucharists was using communion from the presanctified reserved sacrament from Sunday. I personally disagree. At any rate, by St. Cyril's time (5th cent) he is already referring to daily liturgies. This is confirmed by later sources, such as the canons of Ps. Athanasius (ca. 6th cent) and later Arabic sources.

    So, it seems that liturgies in Lent developed in this fashion:

    1- Saturday and Sunday only.
    2- Sat, Sun, Wed, and Fri
    3- Daily

    So presumably, there would have been vespers on any day there is no liturgy celebrated until liturgical celebration was generalized to every day. Because of the fasting requirements, Liturgy now competed with Vespers for a time slot, eventually displacing Vespers altogether. There are indications that this happened in stages, where some manuscripts show a celebration of a liturgy combined with vespers in some fashion, although I have not seen the exact pattern for this.

    This was just the unique way of how the Coptic church dealt with the relationship between fasting and Liturgy. While we chose to celebrate an entire liturgy, removing vespers altogether, the rest of the East chose to keep Vespers and add to it communion from the presanctified gifts. That is essentially what the Byzantine "Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts" is, a Vespers service + Communion. This practice was even canonized in the Council in Trullo (7th cent) which decreed that no full liturgy is to be celebrated during Lenten days. However, this is not a Byzantine peculiarity. Almost every eastern tradition (Syriac, Armenian, and even Nubian) had a similar rite, even if now extinct. Whether we did as well, is something uncertain. At any rate, the practice of Eucharistic reservation was banned completely in the 10th cent, leaving no room for communion during Lent except through a full regular liturgy.

    This information was based roughly on Robert Taft's article The Frequency of the Eucharist Throughout History (1982). I hope this helps!
  • Ramez, you've done it again! Thank you a lot for help and may God reward you and bless you for your service.

    Oh and just to ask, why did the liturgy (if it was celebrated in the morning) have to compete with vespers for a time slot since vespers is a sunset prayer? Weren't they at 2 completely different times?

    God Bless
  • Hello Faithful,

    I meant to say that liturgy and vespers would compete for a time slot only during Lent, when the fasting lasts until sunset and communion has to be later as well.
  • Oh I see. 

    Thank you very much

    God Bless
  • Just another question, can we pray the hiteni during the days of lent?

    God Bless
  • Definitely!
  • really? We never do it at our church! I'm not to sure why..

    God Bless
  • edited February 2014
    The Hitens in general is a very recent development. You will not find them mentioned in any ritual sources prior to the 20th century. Theologically, they do not integrate well with the rest of the liturgy of the word and the theological purpose of this part of the liturgy. In reality, the Hitens is simply a filler to leave enough room for clergy to do the incense circuit in large churches.

    For this reason, I am hesitant to say yes or no to Hitens in Lent. It is natural also that such recent ritual elements get sidelined in more solemn seasons, albeit without any conscious effort. It is again Baumstark's law of retention of old practices in solemn seasons, where the subconscious tends to revert back to basics if you will, or back to the roots and away from novelty and innovation. However, since the Hitens are -for better or worse- an acknowledged part of the liturgy in general nowadays, even with seasonal variations, I see no "technical" reason to omit them in Lent.

    In a recent lecture on the Liturgy of the Word, I made the case (based in part on Alexander Schmemann's book The Eucharist) that this part of the service is about two main things, keeping in mind that this was the beginning of the entire service before the Prothesis was moved to its current location:

    1- God's presence in His word in Scripture
    2- God's presence expressed through incense

    Any hymns that are sung in the liturgy of the word (with the exception of seasonal insertions that are not integral), as well as the priest's silent prayers are expressive of this presence, asking Him to grant us true knowledge of Him through our understanding of Scripture and to come and dwell in us as we commence this mystical ecclesial act that is the Divine Liturgy. You can see this most clearly in the first silent prayer prayed after the Absolution of the Servants.
  • edited February 2014
    Okay, so there is no real reason as to why we should omit them but there is no real reason to pray the Hiten! 

    Ramez are your lectures recorded or available as a transcript online? I'd love to learn more about rituals and about the Liturgy, because what you share with us here absolutely amazes me! 

    Sorry about all the questions but here is another one. In Moallem Albair's Rites he says the on Fridays of the Great Lent after the Gospel Something called the maymar is preferred to be read instead of the Sermon. Have you ever heard of this?

    May God continue to bless your service in enlightening people about the meaning and depth of the rites of the church.

    God Bless
  • Faithful,

    A memre (or Maymar as it is written often in Arabic) is a type of poetic exposition by one of the Fathers. It was a type of writing popularized by fathers of Syriac spirituality such as Ephrem the Syrian, Narsai, and Aphrahat. We have many of those types of writings preserved in manuscripts, especially because of our mutual relations with the Syrian community and Syrian monasticism in Egypt.

    As far as what Memre is indicated, why specifically on Friday, or where these instructions originate from....you'd have to ask Albair himself :)
  • I skimmed through Albair's khidmit shamas yesterday by chance and he does have a one page info about that service. Someone please search copticheritage maybe the rite will be found there. 
  • Does he provide the text for the memre to be read?

  • edited February 2014
    No. the mayamer text are different. I THINK Elsorian or elbaramous monastery have a book published with the different mayamer that can be said. He does give the order of the service and a short bg. When i get home i'll try to translate it.
  • I have seen a book in Arabic from Cairo which has a commentary by St John Chrysostom to be read after the liturgy gospel during the lent weekdays. While I admire and love his work I often wondered why every commentary should be by him alone with no regard to any other teacher.
  • Drew,

    First, do you have more information about that commentary/commentaries? Even the title of the book might help.

    Second, what do you mean? I guess it is true that a majority of patristic passages are attributed to Chrysostom, but what about all the Athanasius and Shenouda passages in Holy Week for example?

    Third and most important...you are assuming all these attributions are correct. In many cases, we are unable to trace these passages to any particular known work by such fathers. It may be from lost works no longer extant in Greek, but it may also be spurious homilies attributed in Coptic to Chrysostom or whomever just to give it cachet.
  • Hi Ramez

    I will get you the name of the book and author ASAP. I know we have commentaries by other fathers during Holy Week, what I meant was why should every single commentary for the whole period of lent be by one author only? Has no other father commented on aspects/gospels of lent whatsoever?
  • edited February 2014
    As promised...well, half-promised (didn't translate it yet)

  • Drew,

    I completely agree. For starters, we read a lot of prophecies from Isaiah during Lent and there is St. Cyril's commentary on Isaiah. Knowing for a fact that Coptic ancient manuscripts of Biblical patristic commentaries are not lacking, I see no reason why liturgical commentaries would be restricted to Chrysostom.

    If I may venture a guess, I would say a heavy emphasis on Chrysostom may be an Upper Egyptian tradition. During the papacy of Patriarch Theophilus, as many here know, John Chrysostom was deposed because of a jurisdictional dispute between Constantinople and Alexandria that involved a group of exiled monks, the so-called Tall Brothers. I can only imagine the extent of the purging of Chrysostom's writings in Alexandria and the delta in the aftermath. Upper Egypt however, far from the center of the church and always a good place to hide (Manichaeans, Gnostics, Meletians...etc) may have been a good place for Chrysostom's legacy as an outstanding Biblical commentator to survive. Just a guess...

  • edited February 2014

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