Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Coptic Book of Hours, the Horologion (Agpeya)

I recently obtained a copy of the Coptic Horologion, or Agpeya. This edition is in both Arabic and English, uses the Revised Standard Version Psalms, which is my favorite version of the Bible. It Contains all Seven Hours of Prayers.This is the edition edited by Prof. Fayek M. Ishak.

It is presents a robust but manageable daily office. I prayed the compline and the prime (1st hour in the Coptic Cycle), and it takes about 25 minutes.

Here is a description of the Horologion with a little history from the Amazon.com page:

"This is a bilingual edition of the Devotions, and Prayers of the Canonical Hours. Basically of monastic origin, the rich heritage of selected Psalms, Gospels, Epistles, Petitions and Absolutions that correspond to the life and Passion of our Lord, was actually incorporated into Christian worship at first by the Church of Alexandria. It was then adopted by many churches in the west particularly in France and Italy in the early decades of the 6th century A.D. Throughout the years it has become obvious that the origin of the Horologion which is deeply rooted in desert devotional supplications has kept this office of prayer and psalmody in its purest for in addition to the overall Officium of fasting, private prayer, night vigil, silence and contrition of heart."

Below is the prayer of Thanksgiving recited each hour in the Coptic Horologion. Notice the trust in God for everything, and the acknowledgement of spiritual warfare.

Pope Shenouda III, of blessed memory, recommends the Agpeya as being a perfect prayer book, because it uses the Psalms, which are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and provide appropriate words for intercession and prayer.

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Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.

O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.
Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life, in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours.

But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.

 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him, and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

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