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Coptic Orthodox Church
Feast liturgies at night
I was wondering why the liturgies of the feasts of Nativity, Theophany, and Resurrection are prayed in the evening? Why not at a time in the morning the day of the feast?
I believe the reason is a historical one with the advent of government and governmental positions in the 19th century as far as I am aware, hence people missing the prayers. I think therefore it was decided that liturgies would be started at night after compline ideally and the Communion to be distributed well after midnight (a new day by the world's calendar standards). What's happening nowadays is certainly a violation of the teachings and rituals by the forefathers..
Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ
Liturgies used to ALWAYS be later at night, more towards dawn. So those specific feasts hold the original time of liturgies, while all other liturgies we do now is a change.
So it was just about convenience?
What do you mean about it being a violation of the teachings and rituals of the forefathers?
Thank you for your reply.
Yes it was just for convenience as you rightly said. As Mina pointed above, the genuine rites for liturgies used to be in the early hours of the morning, while it's dark and after midnight praises, a practice still followed in the Egyptian monasteries (not sure about other ones in the diaspora). The basic principle is the compline prayers coincide with 18.00, and earliest midnight prayers and praise would follow from around 21:00 or so, until the early hours of next morning (03.00 or later) where it coincides with the liturgy, so that the faithful enter the church in the dark and get out of it in the light because Christ is the light of the world.
Nowadays though because of recent events in Egypt (taken as blanket excuse) regarding terrorist threats and attacks churches were forced (for a period of time a few years ago) to finish before midnight (as though this makes a difference but the evil one is hard at its work to drive us to abandon our principles). Funnily enough some churches at the time in the diaspora blindly followed suit and finished their liturgies before midnight. In the last couple of years this has become the norm! That is to say finishing before midnight. That causes more than one problem. First of all, it is still the same calendar day that we have celebrated a baramoun liturgy (within the same 24 hours - that's a violation). Secondly to finish before midnight you would start around 17.30 or 18.00 and as in the case of the Coptic church in England unfortunately 19.00. Now that is another violation, because it is hardly past compline! So modern practice teaches "oh no you don't need to pray seven times a day : this is just a poetic expression to say in the midnight praises" - so one would wonder so are we going to sing "seven times a day I praise you for the right are your judgments", and the answer comes "well if you want to, you can come and start at 16.00" because praises for Lordly feasts are rich and long. That's another violation. Thirdly and enough for this argument, instead of learning to exercise watchful vigil in the church as instructed by Christ, we tend to start late and finish early for "lots of practical purposes" (sarcasm)
Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ
I'm guessing you probably know this, but in case anyone reading this thread doesn't know, the Coptic day does not start at midnight like a Western calendar day does- it starts from sundown (or Vespers depending on how you look at it) of the "calendar day" before it. For example, Kiahk 29 (Gregorian 7 January) really starts at sunset on Gregorian 6 January.
, I assumed that people know this but please be careful that whether we calculate the day on the Jewish calendar day, or Gregorian calendar day, two Communion distributions must not take place on any one day, hence the violation..
Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ