Rushing Hymns during Liturgical Celebration

What is the Orthodox's Church stance on deacons or priests who rush you to pray or sing hymns because "mista3galeen" - ("we are late").

Surely, its wiser to not sing additional hymns and pray what you can properly? 

For example. I went to my Church so early. I was nearly the 1st one in the door.

The priest came, and started vespers (matins) - that was rushed. 

Then I wore as a deacon. 

We then prayed the Agpeya. This was so rushed. I just barely opened my Agpeya and they had finished. - but that was OK.. perhaps I was slow.

Then came Apenchoise - the introduction to Agios Otheos. This was really really rushed. I mean, the deacon just speed read it. I couldn't pray.

At the end of the mass, I mustered the courage to talk to him, and said "are you aware that you rushed through Apenchoise? Do you know, when I sing this, I have to translate from Coptic to Arabic to English?" - He said to me "Listen! You don't understand, we are running late in the liturgy, and we have sunday school to give afterwards, and people work on Sundays!" 

What the...???


Is this normal? The reason why Im not catholic is because of the lack of respect I see sometimes in liturgy, but surely this also counts. There's nothing you can teach a kid in sunday school, tell them, educate them, or talk to them about anything that's more important than the actual liturgy. That has to be top priority?? no?


  • Zoxasi, do not be intimidated when someone lashes out like that. I have problems with a lot of things, some small and some big. I figure that if people are going to be aggressive towards me when I have concerns, then I will return the favor. Its not anger or mean, its standing up for what is right. No offense to anyone but Egyptians are always late but in such a hurry. For those of us that enjoy taking their time because we love being in heaven it makes it very difficult at times. One time I took Abounas clock off the altar and hid it, I figure time is of no worth in heaven, we are here to focus on Christ, not how much time we have. If someone works, let them go work, if someone is busy, let them go be busy. I serve Christ not man and certainly not a busy body that wants the whole service to be altered for him or her because they are a "doctor." Frankly, I do not care if you are the freaking pope, this is heaven, act like it. Good for you Zoxasi. 
  • For the record, this constant lateness nearly drove me from the church. Show up for psalmody and nobody would be there. Or midnight psalmody done at 6pm! I actually had a friend that I was working on show up and nobody else did and I did not have the keys. It got to be too much that I just stopped going on saturday, then stopped going on sunday, then nearly fell into despair for nearly two years I almost fell into a very deep hole for a very long time, if not forever. But now I am finding my voice and am standing up for truth more consistently and lovingly. Do what is right, not what you want to be right or according to anothers feelings.
  • Ioannes,

    God bless you for your desire to be in Church and in a House of Prayer.

    its sad really to see Egyptians behave this way. The same deacon was complaining about how Copts go to Protestant churches and leave the Coptic Church, and i think he is the reason behind that. 

    People need to at least enjoy the prayer. The words of our hymns, our arrow prayers, our tasbeha's, our Agpeyas, these words are very powerful and really cleanse the heart from all malice. 

    I think if such a deacon thinks anything is more important, then I pray seriously that he just gives the job to someone else to lead our deacons.

  • edited March 2014
    During the Epiphany of 1966, Saint Mark's Cathedral in Klot Bey was under renovation and without glass panes on the windows. Since it was very cold, Pope Kyrollos rushed the Divine Liturgy, being concerned for the congregation. He reprimanded the deacons saying, "I am rushing through the Divine Liturgy, and you are taking your time while the congregation is freezing in a church with no windows."
  • And if someone was dying or the roof was crumbling, then i too would rush, but to rush it for Sunday School??? are you kidding me?
  • "Zoxasi, do not be intimidated when someone lashes out like that. I have problems with a lot of things, some small and some big. I figure that if people are going to be aggressive towards me when I have concerns, then I will return the favor. Its not anger or mean, its standing up for what is right. No offense to anyone but Egyptians are always late but in such a hurry. For those of us that enjoy taking their time because we love being in heaven it makes it very difficult at times. One time I took Abounas clock off the altar and hid it, I figure time is of no worth in heaven, we are here to focus on Christ, not how much time we have. If someone works, let them go work, if someone is busy, let them go be busy. I serve Christ not man and certainly not a busy body that wants the whole service to be altered for him or her because they are a "doctor." Frankly, I do not care if you are the freaking pope, this is heaven, act like it. Good for you Zoxasi. "

    "People need to at least enjoy the prayer. The words of our hymns, our arrow prayers, our tasbeha's, our Agpeyas, these words are very powerful and really cleanse the heart from all malice. "

    - Completely Agree

    God Bless you both
  • im from a church where people actually made a huge problem with the priest because he didn't want to rush the liturgy... he was later moved and replaced by another priest because the people didn't agree with him on anything anymore! these "people" are just the rich big shot doctors who pretend to represent the congregation when they are actually not! It's sad that until now my church is practically run by them and no chances or opportunities are given to any younger deacons like me because of how structured they made everything :( the younger deacons in my church say "one day the revolution will overthrow the dynasty!" and so far we can't do anything about the rushing in church and the other problems. God help us!
  • I heard a story yesterday.

    A church had two priests. One priest often rushed through the liturgy whereas the other would take his sweet time. The congregation concerned themselves with both and complained about both to the bishop.
    The bishop called in the priests and asked them about the issue. The priest who rushes said "When I am in the presence of the Lord I just can't. I can't stand my unworthiness. I don't feel like I can be in His presence in my current state."
    The other priest responded "when I'm in the presence of the Lord I don't want to leave. I don't want to leave the warm comfort"

    Both were correct in what they said.

    This does not excuse the aforementioned issue (rushing for Sunday School - or worse because people have work) but it's food for thought :)
  • @childoforthodoxy
    Your story reveals an interesting dynamic. Deacons were doing their own thing even in the presence of Pope Kirollos. Whether they knew his reasoning or not is another matter. Anyway, today priests do run the show, is that right? St. Paul says no angel, or archangel can separate me from the love of God. But seriously though, what does singing hymns in the church and taking our time have anything to do with the love of the Lord?
  • @markmarcos

    Are you from Queensland Australia? Because something happened there with the most amazing priest... now his in Egypt, I am shattered :(

    You do have a point, there may not be an exact relationship with time spent in church with hymns and love for God, but these prayer times are the most beautiful times and most peaceful where we stand in the house to the angels in front of the altar with Christ upon it just pouring ourselves out before our God and Father and a lot of people would like to spend as much time as they can in this way, away from the world just standing in the presence of God and praising Him and Worshiping Him. And some people may find it very hard to accomplish this in a service that is rushed, the deacons are racing with each other and whatever else that happens during church services. In a book from the Serbian Orthodox Church there is this written in one of the back pages, after I read it it changed my attitude to prayer and church services.
    "In oral prayer we must try in every possible way to keep our mind fixed upon the words of the prayer saying it without haste and concentrating all our attention on the meaning of the words"

    Pray for my weakness,
    God Bles
  • Dear Faithful Servant 1,
    I was being sarcastic.. I agree with you 1000%
  • Guys,

    I love the story of the 2 priests... but rushing through hymns, and the Agpeya is just POINTLESS.

    No one scoffs down food - you either eat it properly or don't eat... just swallowing food without chewing it, assimilating it causes more problems than its worth. You'll get indigestion.

    The same with prayer.

    The most precious, intimate, and intense prayers are during the liturgy. This is the VERY reason why we pray for the raising of the waters, the Pope, the environment, the people ... etc.. because CHRIST IS PRESENT ON THE ALTER.

    He's there! So we just pray for these things. 

    Rushing it is just pointless.. Rushing out of respect is OK, if the priest is praying alone, but actually, the people should be praying WITH the priest. I mean to say: we ought to be praying inaudibly what the priest is saying also.

    In any case - if you are NOT praying, then you are not talking to God. You are just giving God lip service; you are doing a duty. You are not engaging in the words.

    Who benefits when you pray?? God or you??

    Does God become better when you pray  to Him??
    Does God become Holier when you pray to Him???
    Does God become wiser when you pray to Him?
    Does God become healthier when you pray to Him??

    No. You do!

    The Church is like a hospital where the patient is there to be healed, NOT the doctor!! Not the Physician. 

    Why under-value the Agpeya for?? 
    Why rush through Apenchoice!!??

    If this deacon does that again, I will complain. 

    Some people in this life care more about Customer Service (after sales) - I care about my spiritual life more than anything.

    This deacon should be fired.
  • no faithful servant... i'm somewhere in America but i don't want to say which church it is on the forum. 
    lol zoxasi i wish certian deacons could be fired too! haha
  • edited March 2014
    Hey Tenoosht,

    Do you know if parts of that story is fictional or if the first Priest was partially correct? From what my limited mind has read and seen, any obstacle that makes a person avoid the presence of God is from the evil one. If our own sinfulness is stopping us from the presence of God, this is also an attempt from the evil one and/or a weakness on our behalf. If we feel our sinfulness, it would make us feel the need for God even more. We read of so many Saints who would feel their sinfulness, yet take refuge in prayer. Here's what Saint John Chrysostom says, "Our sins should not stop us from prayer. We should be ashamed of our sins, but they should not keep us from our prayers. Even though you are a sinner, approach God with prayer, that you may be reconciled with Him; give Him an opportunity to forgive your sins, which He will, in order to reveal His love for mankind." In another instance, Saint John Chrysostom also says, "If you are afraid to approach God because of your sins, you are actually hindering Him, to the extent, at least, that is dependent upon you, from expressing His goodness and the wealth of His providential care. Remove afar, therefore, every hesitation and doubt about prayer because of sin."

    In our own Agpeya prayers, in the Troparia of the Second Watch of the Midnight prayers, it says 'When I am conscious of my sins, and when I think of Your judgement, I fear and tremble and run to You.' Also, in the Third Watch Troparia it says, 'O Lord look at my weakness with a compassionate eye, for my life is nearing its end and with deeds like mine, I shall have no salvation. I pray to You my Lord to look with merciful eyes at my weakness and my disgrace and my humility and save me.' Even as the Priest begins and continues throughout the prayers of the Liturgy, and in the prayers of Agpeya in general, the prayers have the mindset of 'although we are unworthy, please Lord make us worthy', or 'we are lacking in 'such a thing' please Lord grant us 'such a thing.'

    Although there are definitely exceptions, we should try not to rush our prayers, whether Liturgical or not. Imagine we talk with a friend and we say every word very rushed and want to leave to 'do other things' or want to leave their presence as soon as possible. Imagine speaking to a friend in the speed of the rush of the prayers that sometimes occur in the Liturgy or the Agpeya. How would our friend feel? Or if anyone here is a father or mother, would it hurt you if your child would speak to you as if in a rush whether your child has things to do or not? No doubt there would be some sort of sorrow from the friend or parent, or feelings that speaking to the friend/parent is like a duty or that we don't love being with him. The beautiful thing about God though, is because He is love, He remains silent, He doesn't react to man's weakness - He wouldn't be God if He did - but He sees the weakness of man and with all compassion still offers Himself on the Altar. If we have respect towards the people we speak to, how much more should we respect God.

    I do agree with Zoxa, we should spend time with God because we love and need Him, we give nothing to God, we are the one's who need Him.
  • Zoxasi, never have we agreed so much! My personal feeling is that many people within the church have no idea what we are doing or why we are doing it. Many lack the understanding or the importance of it. When I share with people what is being done, they do seem to enjoy it much more. What I will often do during psalmody is purposely sing much slower, but not to be disrespectful or sing it too slow, I sing it like it is sang on the recording from St Antonys monastery. Nobody seems to get upset though.

  • One of my senior priests always says that God gets His time and the world gets its time once we have given God's His. The only time he rushes the liturgy is if there is a baptism before and he is the only priest present or if there is a funeral afterwards and the cemetery closes early on weekends. He says that he needs to finish on time because the old people need to take medicine and stuff (we have a giant older congregation). That is reasonable to me. Another priest comes to church 15 minutes after the scheduled start time of liturgy is. Matins gets rushed and the whole liturgy gets rushed whenever this priest prays. I get angry and just don't come to his liturgies because I feel my time is being wasted. I can't pray and I feel like there is no point in saying Apetjeek evol, every Hiten in the book and Pinishtee and then pray the whole anaphora in 2 minutes. I love hymns and would love to pray them every week but if we are going to rush through the other stuff, there is no point. 

    Liturgies are getting shorter now, and people come later in the liturgy so the overall time that the average persons spends praying the liturgy is probably not even an hour. It is sad how it is coming to this. Our Christmas liturgy went from 5-12 to 6-12 to 7-12 to 7-11:30 to 6-11 over the years. Because you know, people need their boftik instead of celebrating our salvation.
  • Same thing with me zoxasi but what I usually do is I but abouna infront of the situation just 5 weeks ago we were in akiahky liturgy during the tawaf I took the mike and I said sotem ta shery the psalm no one was offended and abouna didn't cut me of and he didn't even come talk to me after church about the psalm or ef empsha ghar during the tawzee3, but its hard for all people to go threw a complete 5hr liturgy with all the deacon responses hymns congregation responses and the prayers that abouna will chant. For ex. Instead of saying pi epnevma how about u say the start and the paralex therefore u got time to say the mohayar and the aspasmos during the pentecost:-)
  • Abouna once realized this problem, we finished the 3eed celebration in less than 3 hours. It was good to be home early but but did not feel much like Christmas, during which the hymns replace the carols.
    it also seems like an everlasting problem in the Coptic church, good read:
  • You once finished Christmas celebration in less than 3 hours? Only once? Lucky you..
    oujai khan ebshois
  • A bit of topic but what's the tawaf and the paralex
  • On one of the other discussions a question was asked if the extremely long hymns were being expressed beautifully, also if the long hymns would be better done more concisely and more care was given to packing the hymns with liturgical poetry instead of 40mins "meditating" on one line (in the other discussion I mention that this usage is not self evident... The theological reflection is a bit suppressed because its not done in vernacular or not done beautifully and it can become gnostic "hidden" knowledge for those who only "get" the "theology of the musical notes"):

    I'm not sure if anyone else thinks our Church could benefit from augmenting or borrowing from something like the Lenten Triodion or the Festal Menaion. So if we need to keep the sound "Coptic" that could happen, as long as we fill out the existing poetry with poetic recensions from the other Orthodox. It's happened in the past (maybe even throughout the history of the Church) and maybe one day can happen again...if we are willing to look beyond ourselves or our nationalist sentiments.

    Another possible cause of the suppressed beauty (which I think is the reason people want to rush, not only because they are moved by "fallen emotions", but because we are not doing things beautifully or have replaced beauty with utility) is the disconnect of space and usage context. It's instinctual and maybe we need to see if we really do have a liturigical pickle, and need to move towards a liturgical synthesis. So if we understand our liturgy as having a monastic recension we need to see why it works so well in the smaller monastic spaces and why it doesn't work in the larger Cathedral or Mega-Church (LED Screens and Projectors and head chanter solo microphones anyone?) setting. The latter is the general trend in the lands of immigration and maybe we're trying to put new wine into old wineskins.

    "Egyptian Christianity began in Alexandria and was Greek. By the third century, however, there were numerous converts among the Copts, and the Scriptures and liturgy were already in the native tongue. But it was not until the rise of monasticism that the Coptic Church solidified as a native counterbalance to the cosmopolitan, theologically sophisticated, hellenic Church of Alexandria, whose speculative, spiritualizing intellectualism stood in marked contrast to the popular, traditionalistic piety of the South, a largely oral culture transmitted through sayings, proverbs, ritual, rather than through theological treatises. This monastic culture— concrete, popular, ascetic created the liturgy and offices of the Coptic Church. It is a highly penitential, contemplative rite, long, solemn, even monotonous, with much less speculative poetry, symbolic splendor and sumptuous ceremonial than, for example, the Byzantine tradition."
    Fr Robert Taft, The Liturgy of the Hours, 250-251.

    I wonder what could happen if we had more speculative poetry, symbolic splendor and sumptuous ceremonial liturgical life in the Coptic Orthodox Church?
  • So basically advocating the Coptic church in the land of immigration to deviate from the monastic style in Egypt? Use not the unnecessary obligatory Coptic language or hymnody. Why not change segments of the liturgy too? Why call it Coptic in the first place?
    anyway, led screens and all the other advances in the church happened everywhere in the church in recent years, down to the southern most parts of Egypt. Surely problems with poverty in Egypt are disappearing fast..
    oujai khan ebshois
  • La la, I'm asking if we're conscious of the way space affects and incluences hymnology. Also if speculative poetry and theologically rich statements in the liturgical praxis matters. In most cases, the argument for long hymns are an argument from cultural and maybe even national identity preservation, not for theological content. There's an argument for theology hidden in the musical notes, but that just makes things more incoherent. Add the lack of attention to beauty (or the appeal to "ex opere operato") and we're in a liturgical pickle.

    I also wonder if the whole controversy about Theosis (see ) arose because we dont hear enough "speculative poetry" in our liturgical calendar and in the prayers of the liturgy. Yes they're there in handfuls if we look for them hard enough, but maybe because rich theological reflection in the hymns are a bit repressed and too far in between, we began to think that theosis was not central to Orthodox life.

    So it can be read about in a book or by reading the fathers, but maybe we're not seeing, encountering and hearing it enough in our liturgical praxis.

    And in regard to how we pray...

    "So the real God, the Living One, will never conform to our expectations, whether good or bad. God has promised to be there, in these sacramental liturgical realities, but it is He who comes, not our fabrication of Him. So it's very interesting, I have a personal note work as a liturgist will only amount to something if I can get my students to be in Church no matter how bad, how uninspiring, and how dull the service is. In other words if Chirst has promised to be there, who am I to play hard to get? Continuing with the lover kind of dynamic. Now if you take that linear logic to it's linearly logical conclusion, you're going to end up with folks who say "no matter how we do it God's here." You know the "ex opere operato" approach which is the bane of all liturgizing.

    So again it's a matter of balancing the two, in other words, we have to be convinced that something is happening there and it's my duty, my obligation, my salvation to be there whether it's very exciting or it's nice or not, and at the same time, those of us especially who are in the ministry who are doing the liturgical ministry have to serve, have to sing, have to act as if it were just the opposite. In other words as if it really did depend on me articulating every word, me producing the most beautiful sounds a member of the choir, me caring for the appointments in Church being as aesthetically marvelous as they can be, but at the end of the day, it is about Christ having promised to be there. And so us saying "it's not going to be too good today" but I'm there anyway. Why? because this is not just an emanation of my consciousness."

    Fr. Peter Galadza in a talk entitled "Liturgy: Where the Holy One Seeks Us"
  • If the whole liturgy was a one-sided talk, of course then liturgy would be a misnomer, we'll start complaining of the lack of artistic values and getting distracted all the time.. then there could not be any diversity because a talk that should take an hour or two would have to be repeated in different languages. Of course that's until in the near future computers can do reliable instant translation.
    if it was a two-sided talk then some of the people would lose interest because they are not as fluent, marginalized, not up to speed with what the topic today is, or not as well learned.
    if it was all one line and tune being repeated over and over then there is no meaning for musical notes, poetry or one cantor.
    if it was a mixture of hymns.. well I think you get the drift..
    illiterate monks used to learn theology by heart through reciting hymns every day.. no talks, sermons, meetings, conferences, Sunday school, or nothing. Indeed if you listen to Fr Dawood you'll notice interesting things. For me I was unaware that the Gospel, or probably the whole Bible was not available until after the year 150 AD, and these were the strongest days in the church. Of course the liturgy was shorter PROBABLY, or contained fewer sections, but there were no talks or sermons either, and different regions had their own cultural mechanisms and rituals of praying, yet immigrants had no problems attending those churches..
    oujai khan ebshois
  • BishoyK the tawaf is when abouna goes around the altar before the deacon says stathete and a paralex is a meaning, by that some hymns in the begining just summarize the topic but later on it goes more into detail check out pi epnevma the hymn for the pentecost and you'll get what I mean
  • I was thinking about the topic of liturgical poetry over the weekend and I wonder if the whole controversy over the basic doctrine of Theosis may be the result of sparse mention of it in our liturgical poetry. So it might be present in a few lines of tasbe7a, in the Baptismal liturgy and in a few parts of the Divine liturgy if we're really really paying attention, but it's not pointed to enough, or it is made incoherent when prayed in Coptic (for preservation sake) or when its made less explicate because it's skipped or prayed quickly and inaudibly. So maybe we had a confusion in the theology because the liturgical recension has been repressed by cultural/sociopolitical pressures under the islamic conquests and our present day understanding of it is based on spiritual-nationalist sentiments (we Copts have held up the fort, ours is the most pure or unchanged, and we never experienced liturgical cross pollination or "changes" that the West, the other Oriental or Chalcedonian Churches did) (ie. Spiritual-Nationalism which is a product of the nation building exercise of modern Egypt).

    Others have mentioned lex orandi and lex credendi in other discussions. In regards to Theosis, maybe we keep on appealing to the doctrine of theosis in the Church's lex credendi (hence all the appeals to the writings of the fathers... ) and to theological treatises which have to explain what should be expicate and poetically packed in our lex orandi too.

    Maybe I'm missing the poetry that's there though but sometimes it feels like our liturgical prayers dont indicate expicately when certain feasts or various themes are presented in the liturgical cycle. Other times it appears that our liturgical praxis is more literal (as in they will just repeat word for word what was mentioned in the Gospel) without much theological speculation or poetry (think of the expositions in the Pascha week or the synaxar during the "minor" feasts).

    If we think again about beauty, perhaps beauty has been repressed (therefore we have forgotten an important transmitor of theology) in the same way certain parts of our lex orandi have been repressed (ie processions for the Feast of the Cross, the Feast of the Patriarchs, and maybe even the blessing of the waters and actual rivers during Theophany). I wonder if we can we can one day uncover our speculative poetry, symbolic splendor and sumptuous ceremonial liturgical life in the Coptic Orthodox Church and share this with all the other Orthodox Churches?
  • Cyril, first of all your response to Opadecee was quite childish and inappropriate. Ophadecee makes a good point, albeit hidden under severe sarcasm. Secondly, it is not appropriate to reopen your argument that long hymns serve no purpose other than cultural and national identity preservation. That topic has been discussed and you chose to ignore any responses that do not conform to you claim. Now you are moving to hijacking other threads. This topic is not about hymnographic beauty, theosis or theology hidden in hymns. Unless you can show how beauty specifically affects this topic (rushing hymns in liturgy), stop hijacking threads. If you continue this, the admins will be forced to delete your posts and/or other actions.
  • Apologies Rem didn't mean to take the thread off topic. Just thought that speed of the prayers might be related to the theme of beauty and coherence. Sorry bout that, I'm in agreement with everyone that liturgies should be done with reverence and love, and rushing does take away from the prayerful quality of the whole liturgy. But think it's a fine balance though, as longer doesn't automatically mean better (which is why I quoted Fr Peter again for his mention of detail and that tension he speaks about).

    I'll keep my often strange thoughts to myself and limit what I speak about on the forums. Sorry everyone for indulging in my fallen passions and maybe causing you to indulge in yours.

    Blessed Fast of Nineveh everyone.
  • Oh grow up, Rem. Cyril's thoughts were beautiful reflections about the place of beauty in liturgy and how our sometimes mechanical rites lead to a desire to speed up. His comment was not immature nor off topic.

    Cyril I welcome and love reading your posts and think you being up a point that is of extreme relevance. I believe you see more holistically and our brother Rem wants this to be a debate which is cut off from the rest of the integrated life of the church. I will not be posting anything further here as regards this topic
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