Sunteți pe pagina 1din 2

Midnight Praises Introduction: The last post on prayer established how prayer is lived out unconditionally and acted

upon in every aspect of our lives. With this post I want to look at specific prayers and more specifically Tasbeha. Tasbeha is the transliteration of the Arabic word for praise. This explains the English rendering of Midnight Praises. The praises consists of various canticles directly taken from scripture and in Coptic called Hoos. As the name suggest Midnight praises happens during the evening or late hours of the night. It usually precedes the liturgy and is equivalent to an all-night vigil. The midnight praises was developed within the monastic communities and has been preserved by the monastics and used within the life of the parish. Within the monasteries it takes places around 3 or 4 AM and it is followed by the liturgy. Within the parish it usually happens Saturday night and then the liturgy occurs the next morning. The midnight praises is not only meant to be done on Saturday night but it can be celebrated during any day of the week. I would like to speak a little bit about the format for those who are not familiar with the structure. Format: The Midnight praises begin after the canonical hours which come after vespers. The service begins with a hymn that calls the faithful to rise up from their slumber of sleep and begin to praise the Lord. We can see how this first prayer was influence by the monastic movement since it is traditionally prayed after the monks had awakened from their sleep. Following this we have 4 Hooses or canticles that are chanted. Each canticle as we said is taken directly from scripture. For example the first canticle recounts the Jews leaving Egypt and crossing over the red sea (cf. Ex 15.1-19). The second canticle is Psalm 135. The third is the story of Daniel and the three children. In between the canticles explanations are chanted with the faithful asking for the intercession of St. Mary and other saints. After the commemoration of saints and doxologies, we have the fourth canticle which is comprised of psalms 148, 149 and 150. Following this we get the Psali of the day, more hymns to St. Mary which explores the themes of symbols relating to the Virgin and Christs incarnation and then we have a reading from the gospel. Then the usual conclusions follow with the recitation of the creed, Holy Holy Holy and if a priest is present the absolution. Significance: Why Tasbeha? Why are young Copts today in the lands of immigration attending Tasbeha? Why is it that when I go to any church (Canada and United States) that Tasbeha is packed with many youths? It is quite an interesting trend and one I would like to un-package some more. First and foremost worship or praise is the inclination of calling out on the name of God and if we understand worship in this manner than the Tasbeha must be the closest thing to worship not only on earth but also in heaven. The church fathers (who wrote a big part of the Tasbeha) repeatedly called this service the decoration of the church by which the church is decorated

and being prepared for the bridegroom. Just as the church is being decorated we are called to decorate our being in renewing our nature to live out the message of Christ. How does this renewing happen? It happens in everything that we are called to do within the church as a whole, as taught to us throughout the Tasbeha service. We died to Christ and are born again (cf. Jn 3) being made alive in Christ (Baptism). Just as the Jews passed over the red sea and they were renewed with Christ, we are called to make the same journey in order to be united in the body of Christ. Just like Psalm 135 gives thanks to God for his good creation and his works we are called to live out in harmony with all of creation and are asked to enjoy everything in creation. Tasbeha is constantly being lived out if we think about it rationally. If praise and worship is a form of calling out to the name of God is this not what we are called to do daily? I believe that Tasbeha is popular amongst the younger generation because the youth are beginning to understand that the liturgical services stand outside of time. Time is not bound to the church and this means that the church is constantly in motion. If we are present at the physical building or we are going about our daily lives the church is constantly present. Praise is not held down to a specific time but an ever moving reality of uniting to God. If God is to be praised then this explains why St. Paul says pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5.17). Prayer then becomes a way of knowing the mystery of God which was revealed to us in the incarnation of his Son. Tasheba allows us to contemplate this mystery with the various aspects of the chants occurring during the canticle and doxologies. Fr. Matthew the Poor speaks excellently on this when he says: And so we discover that, through constantly gazing at Christ in prayer, we become endowed with the multitude of Cherubic eyes. These eyes work within us to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. It is then that our hearts will become inflamed with a celestial fire, which blazes within us with such a power that all we can do in those rapturous hours is glorify God in endless praise. Lastly, prayer is community and unity with others. This explains why many youths attend Tasbeha. The love we have for each other speaks to how we have come to understand prayer as a living dynamic. The person who is able to unite in Christ is able to communicate with sinners and receives the power to fulfill his work in love. It is such a person who will love sinners just as Christ does and will have compassion for the poor, sick and suffering-who will give himself unconditionally. Prayer when it attains to the level of love through obedience and sacrificequalifying us in the body of Christ-becomes the only method to serving others around us. Prayer will even strengthen us to forgive others for their wrong doings. Union with Christ during prayer makes a person capable of identifying with the sinner. It allows us to carry the other individuals sin and infirmities allowing us to suffer for others. This is what it means to live for others as Christ lived for all. Prayer becomes our gateway to union with Christ and seeing Christ in all. This can only be understood through the Midnight praises that constantly seek to understand God.