What happened to The Liturgy of St. Cyril?

Coptic.net gives the following explanation:

“The Liturgy according to St. Basil is the one used most of the year;

St. Gregory's Liturgy is used during the feasts and on certain occasions;

only parts of St. Cyril's Liturgy are used nowadays.”

They also mention the following:

“It is worth noting here that the Liturgy was first used (orally) in Alexandria by St. Mark and that it was recorded in writing by St. Cyril I, the 24th Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt.

This is the Liturgy known as St. Cyril's Liturgy and from which the other two liturgies -- referred to above -- are derived.”

My question is:

If the St. Basil and St Gregory liturgies came from St. Cyril - why not just use St. Cyril’s liturgy all the time? It’s literally the liturgy that St. Mark used himself ... so why don’t we pray it that often?


  • I can think of two decent reasons not to:
    1) There are so many ways to do it and so many responses are lost. Now even if you try and find the "ancient tune" used in V] vy`etafjwr and Hina you will find a lot of discrepancy and unsureness about the response tune. There is a tune, just like how there's the well-known Gregorian tune, for the Cyrillian responses that we don't have. On top of this, I have heard probably 3 different orders for where the Aspasmoses and litanies and responses go and what's said when and it becomes a lot to try and sort out.
    2) It's long. I mean, really long. I've never attended one personally, but my mother (who attended at least one with Anba Demetrios) said it ended up taking 4 hours as opposed to the approximately 2-2.5 hours for a normal Basilian liturgy with sermon.

  • edited March 2018
    @Daniel_Kyrillos...St. Cyril's liturgy is not long. In fact, I was there for abouna to finish the whole liturgy in an hour two weeks ago. It all depends on how fast abouna is going.

    @Jathniel...That information is kind of incorrect. In the states almost everyone uses the SUS liturgy book (1st or 2nd ed) in which the order of St. Cyril's liturgy matches the proper one found in Fr. Abdel-masseh salib el-mas'oudy book. That comment may be a reference to the time where "maktabit el-mahaba" printed books were becoming famous. In my opinion, that was the worst thing ever to happen in the church since most of those books were not reviewed or approved by bishops, and they were full of mistakes of many types...including a "perverted" version of St. Cyril's liturgy to match the order of the other two liturgy. 

    St. Basil & St. Gregory liturgies are of the Byzantine anaphora structure where after the fulfillment of the sacrament, that is the bread and wine become Body and Blood, you start 'asking' for things--those are the litanies and the commemoration. The coptic way of thinking is that once Christ is now on the altar, you do not ask for anything but enjoy His presence...so you ask all that you want before hand...that's all the litanies that are said before the fulfillment of the sacrament.

    A side note, we have a great heritage of hymns and rites in the Church. They are there for many reasons and one of them is to not be bored. Doing the same exact liturgy over and over in the same way doesn't always offer an opportunity to benefit. 
  • I second Mina’s comment. In fact, this information is entirely incorrect.

    1- We don’t know what liturgy Saint Mark prayed during his time in Alexandria. Certainly he handed down a way of celebrating the Eucharist. At his time, bishops had the liberty to improvise their own prayers of thanksgiving to accompany the actions of Eucharistic rites. As such, there is no way to affirm that Saint Mark prayed the liturgy attributed to him, especially in the absence of textual evidence from that time. The earliest textual witnesses to fragments of an anaphora resembling what we know today as Saint Mark/Cyril in Greek are from the 4th/5th century.

    2- Nothing is known with certainty about the role played by Saint Cyril in expanding, codifying, or anything else to the liturgy of Saint Mark. Attributions to him appear in the Copto-Arabic tradition in the Middle Ages. It’s only a tradition in the Coptic Church, while the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria has no such tradition. It’s common to attribute things to major local church figures. For example, the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was almost certainly not written by him. Yet, as an important patriarch of Constantinople, it was only natural to honor him posthumously by attributing the local anaphora to him.

    3- The liturgies of Saint Basil and Gregory have nothing to do with saint Cyril. They are quite ancient themselves and follow the so-called Antiochene structure that Mina described. The idea that other liturgies came from Cyril (or the the liturgy of James, as has been claimed too) is an outdated and common claim, based on the assumption that there was one ancient universal liturgy from which all the rest descended. To state it very briefly, this theory has no basis and is largely discredited now.
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