This is the Pascha doxology. Every hour it is sung after the prophecy has been read, and before the psalm and gospel. The second stanza has a phrase added to it every day; this is the complete form, which is sung on Friday. It is repeated twelve times, antiphonally between the sides of the church, the pace and language (fast, slow, Arabic, Coptic, English) to be determined by the senior deacon. (All of these Pascha services, except for the memorial liturgy on Thursday, are prayed in the nave of the church, staying outside the sanctuary behind the iconostasis, and outside the deacons’ usual benches on the platform right in front of the iconostasis, in commemoration that our entrance into the Holy of Holies was only opened by Christ’s death, which is remembered on Friday.)

Kyrie eleison.
Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings, and the majesty forever, Amen:
                  O Emmanuel our God and our King.
Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings, and the majesty forever, Amen:
                  O my Lord Jesus Christ, my good Savior:
                  The Lord is my strength and my praise,
                   and has become my salvation.
Thine is the power, the glory, the blessings, and the majesty forever. Amen.

 Every hour has a prophetic reading, which ranges from the Old Testament stories of Creation and the establishment of the covenant with Abraham, to the covenant lawsuit passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, and the others, where God describes the sins of his people and the punishment they deserve, but also often speaks of the coming days when he will finally take their sins away, and they will be indeed a pure bride.

After the doxology, the psalm is sung first, very slowly (in the Coptic chants, the sadder the occasion the slower the chant – except for the great high feast day of Easter itself, when the chant gets slower than ever!) in Coptic by one of the deacons. When I was young and irreverent, I once timed that one vowel in this chant could last for 40 seconds; and Coptic has lots of vowels. Now I consider the time better spent in meditating on the verse, or in learning the Coptic letters and words. Here are some of the Psalm readings from yesterday and today; it is wonderful to see how many of the Psalms become Messianic when considered in this context:

He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
         Ps. 62:6-7

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. . .
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
        Ps. 13:3, 6

The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought; he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
         Ps. 33:10-11

Plead my cause, and deliver me; quicken me according to thy word.
Salvation is far from the wicked, for they seek not thy statutes.
         Ps. 119:154-155

He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me, for they were too strong for me. . .
He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me; thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
         Ps. 18:17, 48

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in thee; let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed; let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
        Ps. 25:1-3

Then the Psalm and Gospel are read together, either in English or Arabic, still chanted, but in a much more efficient “reading” tone. The gospel readings are arranged so that everything between the entrance to Jerusalem and the Last Supper is read during Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. During these days, there is only one gospel reading per hour. These include the rebukes of the Pharisees, the last questions posed to Jesus and his authoritative answers (the source of John the Baptist’s authority, the tribute to Caesar, the resurrection of the dead brothers and their wife, the greatest commandment, and David’s calling his Son Lord), and the description of the last days [of Jerusalem, by my interpretation].

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