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It was a pleasant surprise, which left me wordless in awe. A hardback of the "Thirteen Coptic Acrostic Hymns," from manuscript M574 of Pierpont Morgan Library, NY. Those Coptic Hymns, still in my hands, are too beautiful to keep for myself. I decided to share the spiritual enjoyment with poetry fans, and hope to present the book for Coptic students. I am writing this invitation to enjoy the verses of these beautiful stanzas, similar of some, I have chanted myself as a young Psaltos. This review written for Amazon.com readers is dedicated to my first teacher of Coptic Hymnals.
Acrostic lyrical hymns:
Acrostics (extreme verse) is a poem or some other text written in an alphabetic script, in which the first letter, syllable or word of each verse, paragraph, or some other recurring feature in the text spells out another message. Acrostics may simply spell out the letters of the alphabet in order.
In addition to Deir el-Bahari, Monastery of Epiphanius of acrostic lyrical hymns, and other liturgical anthology of poetical hymns on the Alexandrian Archbishop Petrus, crown of the martyrs, and on St. Antonius, and other martyrs kept in Cairo and vienna Museums, in Coptic and/or Greek. Manuscript M574 Hymns were available only in the few distributed photographic copies edition (1922).
Manuscript M574 Hymns:
Thirteen alphabetically arranged hymns from a manuscript in Sahidic Coptic. These hymns were written for the Monastery of the Archangel Michael, Fayyum, and hitherto The stanzas of each hymn begin with each letter of the Coptic alpha, beta, gamma, delta, ..., in its sequential order. The hymns are dedicated to the praise of the Virgin Mary, the apostles, and a number of saints popular in the Coptic Church, St.Read more ›
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"Provide me with Coptic hymns chanted by Caruso and I could destroy the walls of Jericho." E N Smith, English musicologist
When Professor Earnst Newland Smith visited Cairo in the winter of 1927, upon an invitation from the late Mr. Ragheb Moftah, a Coptic hymns and liturgical expert, the English musician examined the entire range of Coptic music and hymns, and documented his selection in 18 volumes. He concluded his scholarly work saying, "This music which has been handed down since untold generations within the Coptic Church should be a bridge between the East and the West and place a new idiom at the disposal of Western musicians. It is lofty, noble and great art unique in its element of the infinite, missing today. Music has its origin in ancient Egypt".
The Coptic hymnals, now in circulation total above 300, chanted in different melodies, and tones. Few take in excess of 20 minutes to chant. The bulk of them are written in Coptic but few are preserved in Greek, while many of them have been lost. Historical evidence suggests that Coptic hymns were chanted since early church in the second century and remained almost unchanged. Coptic hymns and liturgical chants written in various geographical dialects, as early as the second century, were inscribed on separate sheets, in rolls, or codices. These were discovered in ancient Coptic sites in Oxyrhynchus, Hermopolis, and Arsinoe (Fayum). An evidence of the early development of the Coptic hymns during the first two centuries, was confirmed by the discovery near Bahnassa in Upper Egypt of `xorinex,' an ancient hymn recorded with usical notes that dates back to the third century.Read more ›
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