Psalm 150 – Communion Hymn in the Coptic Rite
The pinnacle of Orthodoxy is the Eucharist. The Eucharist was established by Christ himself and it is the fullness of our unification with God. It is therefore only fitting that the time in which we partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord is filled with praise and hymns. The Coptic Church has a specific structure and order for its distribution (communion) hymns.
Regardless of the occasion, the first hymn chanted during the distribution of the holy mysteries is Psalm 150 (NKJV):
“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary*;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
2 Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!”
* Note that the translation commonly used in Coptic parishes says, “Praise God in all his saints.” This is more of an allegorical interpretation, as the literal translation is literally “all the holy places.” It is meant to extend to God’s holy (chosen/consecrated) places/people.
The Coptic Rite also includes four extra pieces/verses after verse 6 of the Psalm. They are, “(1) Glory to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (2) Now and ever, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen, (3) Alleluia Alleluia, Glory be to our God [Greek], (4) Alleluia Alleluia, Glory be(longs) to our God [Coptic].
In my opinion, the use of Psalm 150 during the partaking of the mysteries is of significant value. In it, we call upon each human to offer praise to God, in whatever way he is able. It teaches each of us to use whatever talent, ability, virtue, or type of prayer we have to give thanks to the Almighty God who betrothed us to himself out of his own love.