Fraction to the Son: "Oh Lamb of God"

edited December 1969 in Hymns Discussion
I was wondering if anyone has any record of the history and origins of this Fraction, located on page 457 of the second edition of the Divine Liturgy book published by the SUS diocese.  It starts with:
O Lamb of God, who through Your sufferings have borne the sins of the world, blot out our iniquities through Your compassion.

O only-begotten of God, who through Your Blood have cleansed the filth of the world, cleanse the filth of our souls through Your mercies.

O Christ of God, who through Your death have slain death that had slain all, by Your power raise up the deadness of our souls.

...
Does anyone know when it first appears in our manuscripts, or who wrote it?

Thank you

Comments

  • Let's bump this again  ;)
  • Mina,
    I have to look at some manuscripts. I don't have any particular history of the origin of this fraction. It is probably one of the only examples of a penial substitution/Anslem theology in the Coptic Church.

    It is a nice fraction but I have problems with the language style in it. It doesn't seem Coptic because of the liturgical terminologies it uses.

    I'll get back to you on this.
  • I'm not sure if I see a theological or soteriological problem with this fraction. It's beautiful in its yearning for the savior who is the redeemer of all through his life giving sacrifice.

    It's important to remember that just because the fraction isn't infused with rich theological expressions or ideas it doesn't mean it's denying or negating them. It's a simple contemplative fraction which appears to be written by a simple monk/layman who merely modeled it along those verses here or others like them:

    1Peter2.24
    Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

    1Cor15.3
    For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures

    Titus 2.14
    who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

    I don't believe it's endorsing penal substitution. It's a simple prayer and perhaps we should take it at that.






  • [quote author=Remnkemi link=topic=14279.msg163559#msg163559 date=1361995436]
    Mina,
    I have to look at some manuscripts. I don't have any particular history of the origin of this fraction. It is probably one of the only examples of a penial substitution/Anslem theology in the Coptic Church.

    It is a nice fraction but I have problems with the language style in it. It doesn't seem Coptic because of the liturgical terminologies it uses.

    I'll get back to you on this.


    Hi Rem,

    No, not at all.  I think you're confusing this with the Fraction to the Son on page 467, where it begins with "O Only-begotten Son, God, the Logos, who loved us, and through His love, He desired to redeem us from eternal perdition. ..."

    No, the one on page 457 is actually a very beautiful one.  It's a Fraction of theosis, or deification more than anything, and I was just interested because of the clarity of its language.  It's a long fraction, so I didn't want to type the whole thing.  If anyone has the SUS book, 2nd edition, I encourage all to read it.

    Here, the Fraction defines things like "glory", "grace", and "love" all as coming from God's divinity, and through them, we are purified, sanctified, and united with the Trinity.

    Here's a snippet in the middle of the Fraction that struck me the most:

    Manifest in the souls of Your servants the glory of Your life-giving mysteries.

    At the offering of the sacrifice upon the altar, sin shall cease from our members through Your grace.

    When Your glory comes down upon Your Mysteries, we lift our minds up to behold Your splendor.

    At the turning of the bread and wine into Your Body and Blood, our souls shall be turned unto fellowship with Your glory, and our souls shall be united to Your divinity.

    Create in us, O our Lord and our God, a pure heart, and let Your Spirit dwell within us.

  • bump  ;)
  • Mina,

    Christ is Risen!

    I realise that what I'm about to type does not add much to the discussion, but really: what is there left to say after the snippet you just included on your last post?

    Apophatic rhetoric aside, I'm quite awestruck myself; direct and to the heart of the matter - quite.

    ~m
  • [quote author=mourad link=topic=14279.msg164902#msg164902 date=1370023833]
    Mina,

    Christ is Risen!

    I realise that what I'm about to type does not add much to the discussion, but really: what is there left to say after the snippet you just included on your last post?

    Apophatic rhetoric aside, I'm quite awestruck myself; direct and to the heart of the matter - quite.

    ~m
    My original question was not answered. That's why I bumped it.
  • Any word on the origin of this fraction yet? ;)
  • Bump bump
  • Thanks for the bump :)
  • Bump bump
  • edited June 13
    Wow!  Thanks for the bump!

    According to this source, it is attributed to St. Cyril of Alexandria.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but the "Archbishop Basilious" who wrote this article was the Coptic Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem before Anba Abraham.
  • Yes Mina, Archbishop Basilious is the late Metropolitan Basilious IV of Jerusalem. It says it in the introduction of the Coptic Encyclopedia (CE). 

    Here's what I can find about this fraction.
    1. All the manuscripts that I could find did not include "additional" fraction prayers. The handful of old euchologia that I could find usually had the specific fraction of their respective liturgy (Liturgy of St Gregory "Blessed are you O Christ", Liturgy of St Basil "O Master Lord our God", and Liturgy of St Cyril "O God who predestined us"), plus the Theophany fraction "As You have bestowed upon us". Some added "You are the Logos", "Behold Emmanuel our God" and one or two others. None had this "Lamb of God" fraction. 
    2. Abdel Messih al'Massudi's euchologion (1902) has 10 fraction prayers. I don't have a copy so I don't know if this fraction is included. It's not found in Tuki's Missale copts arabicum. It seems like the earliest publication of this fraction is somewhere in the twentieth century. This is not to say the fraction is not written centuries before. I just cannot find any manuscript evidence. 
    3. I checked the Latin sources Archbishop Basilious mentioned in the CE article. As far as I can tell because I can't read Latin, it's not in there either. I have no idea why Archbishop Bassilious said our fraction in question was written by St Cyril of Alexandria. It is probably folk-history. I can't find any corroborating evidence. 
    4. Agnus Dei (Lamb of God in Latin) is the title of the liturgical prayer (Lamb of God, who carries the sins of the world have mercy on us). Agnus Dei (as a liturgical hymn) was likely introduced by Pope Sergius I of Rome (7th century) in response to the Council of Trullo. In the RC, Anglican, Lutheran, EO Orthodox, Angnus Dei is the prayer recited at the fraction of the host. In the EO church, the fraction of the Eucharist is called the Rite of Prothesis. Here the square part (the Lamb) is cut out of the round prospheron (the round Bread/Body). It is the Lamb part that is broken in to pieces and given to the celebrants. But the EO do not say any "Fraction" prayers. 
    5. It should be noted that Fr Gregory Tillet of the British Orthodox Church makes a very useful distinction in the types of Fraction prayers. The Fraction can be (1)imitative, (2) mystical or (3) utilitarian, or a combination of all three. The Coptic Church has all three. In imitative fractions, the priest breaks the bread reciting and imitating Christ by saying "He broke it".  In mystical fractions, the priests breaks the bread and says a mystical prayer (or a spiritual contemplation). This is what we properly call the Fraction prayers. In utilitarian fractions, the hosts are simply broken for distribution in some sort of manner. The earliest patristic writings describe this type of fraction. This type of fraction is what happens right before the distribution and in the Byzantine Rite of Prothesis.
    6. It is the mystical formula of the Fraction prayers that are very prominent in the Lamb of God Fraction (both Agnus Dei and our fraction in question). Phrases like "Having tasted of Your flesh, we may be worthy to taste Your grace" are very indicative of a style that may help us group and date some fractions. Some Coptic fractures are very biblical (imitative), like the Fraction for the Lord's feasts, the Fraction of the St Mary and the Angels, and especially the three fractions of the three liturgies mentioned above. It would seem that these fractions are likely older than the more mystical fractions, like Lamb of God, Only Begotten Son, the Syrian Fraction, the Wisdom fraction, (and there are many new fractions popping up in Arabic kholagies). 

    It is impossible to say with any accuracy when a particular prayer was introduced to the Coptic Church or who authored it. Like hagiography, hymnography operated on anonymous authors who believed they were merely passing down already accepted oral authorship, attributing their works to famous saints and patriarchs (whom they actually believed authored these stories and hymns) but in reality no evidence exists for such authorship. 

    Coptic liturgical studies is in its infancy. If we had more resources, we can examine all known works of St Cyril of Alexandria and see if he wrote this hymn. Preliminarily, the style and language of this fraction does not seem to conform to the style of St Cyril's confirmed writings, especially on theosis. 

    The best answer I can give you for the origins and source of this fraction is "Anonymous, unknown providence and origin". Sorry.
  • Thank you! I hope to see more research in the future on this :)
  • Archdeacon Dr. Roshdy who did a PhD in liturgical studies notes that the earliest manuscripts from the 5th-7th centuries have a very simple and primitive form of fraction prayers as we do now. In fact they were never referred to as the Fraction, but rather as the prayer of "Our Father".

    The idea behind this prayer was that God having made us worthy to come together to partake of His Son would also make us worthy to address the Heavenly Father with all boldness and in intimacy and say " Our Father who art in heaven..."

    It is pretty much the last line of every fraction. From here he says this prayer becomes embellished and more contemplative and change depending on the season and even some saints contemplation are incorporated. This comes to prove once again the more fluid structure of the early liturgical practice compared to its contemporary rigidity.

    Also, I am aware that he mentions that St. Cyril authored the confession at the end of our liturgy and the writing of it goes much in line with the focused theology of the Council of Ephesus. It is know that St. Cyril modified and added to much of the Coptic liturgical tradition of his time. I have heard he added the deacon responses as well as translate the liturgy from Greek to Coptic from several sources. I also read that he added theological embellishments to the Liturgy of St. Mark, as in the prayer of thanksgiving, instead of just saying "Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God for He has covered us", he adds in, " Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ".

    The basilian anaphora is less theological for example than the Cyrillian because it is believed to have come before (and is less theological than the Byzantine version where he is believed to have later spread it and added words directly from Athanasius's writings).

    I don't know how accurate all this is however.

    God Bless
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