It All Makes Sense. Hallelujah!
Musical Tradition of the Gospel Reading in Coptic
When the gospel is read in Coptic, it has a distinct tune that is not present in any other hymn. Unfortunately, current practice has almost eliminated this tune. The gospel is almost never read in coptic, and the Arabic gospel is read in the tune of the deacon responses. This has added even more confusion to a now convoluted rite.
Please notice the following points in the recordings above:
1. Track 1 in this playlist is from the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies’ production of the Saint Basil Liturgy. It is in the exact order that is written in Pope Gabriel’s description and in the manuscripts. Notice that Cantor Sadek translates Cta;ite into Arabic, paraphrasing the Coptic and Greek incorrectly. In doing so, he also uses the tune of the deacon responses. HOWEVER, there is no congregational response at the end of it; he continues the tune himself.
2. Track 2 is also in the exact order of the written tradition.
3. Track 3 was from a performance in which Cantor Mikhail and others presented a selection of Coptic hymns. You can see the proper order being used for the gospel when just being read in Coptic.
4. Track 4 is in the original 24 tapes of Cantor Mikhail with Cantor Sadek. It is in only Coptic and is in the proper order.
5. I’d like to direct your attention to tracks 5 & 6. They are live recordings from feast liturgies in which His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of blessed memory read the Coptic gospel. Deacon Ibrahim Ayad recites the long deacon response “Stand in the fear of God” for the patriarch in Arabic, in the place of the translator, after the responses are said in Coptic. He also says it in the tune of the deacon responses.
6. Finally, I’d like to draw a comparison between the Coptic gospel during standard/annual days and during Holy Week. The best way to do this is using track number 13 which is a recording of Fr. Mettias Nasr Mankarious chanting the Coptic gospel for Bright Saturday. On Bright Saturday, the Coptic gospel is chanted half in the holy week tune and half in the annual tune. You will notice that the transition between the two tunes in this recording is almost unnoticeable, it fits perfectly. Please also note that the only responses for the congregation in either tune are [Doxa ci Kurie] “Glory to You, O Lord.” Unfortunately, the recording itself skips the response and goes straight into the gospel response.