CALENDAR, SEASONS, AND COPTIC LITURGY

The three seasons of the Coptic calendar, a survival from pharaonic Egypt and based on agricultural activities, are commemorated by special prayers incorporated into the divine liturgies. The seasons and prayers appropriate to each, as computed according to the Gregorian calendar of the twentieth century, are as follows.

The -flood season (12 Ba’unah-9 Babah/19 June-19 October), during which these prayers of for the water (awshiyyat al-miyah) are recited at each Liturgy:

Priest. “O graciously, Lord, please grant Thy blessings to the waters of the river.”

Deacon. “Pray that the waters of the river may rise this year, that Christ, our Lord, may bless it, raise it to its normal level, and gladden the face of the earth; that He will help us, humankind, protect our cattle, and forgive us our sins.”

Congregation. “Lord, have mercy” (chanted three times).

In ancient times, it was believed that during the night of 11/12 Ba’unah, known as the “night of the droplet,” when the river reached its lowest level, a miraculous drop of water fell into the Nile, and caused the waters to begin rising. This belief may have come from ancient Egyptian myths like that of Isis shedding tears of mourning for her lost husband, Osiris. One of her tears falling into the caused the much desired flooding.

The sowing season (10 Babah-10 Tubah/20 October-18 January), during which these prayers of for the crops are recited at each liturgy:

Priest. “Graciously, O Lord, grant Thy blessings to the plants, the herbs, and vegetables of the fields.”

Deacon. “Pray for the plants, the herbs, and vegetables of the fields this year that Christ, our Lord, may grant them His blessings, that they may grow and bring forth plentiful fruit; that He may have compassion for the creatures of His hands, and forgive us our sins.”

Congregation. “Lord, have mercy” (chanted three times).

The harvest season (11 Tubah -11 Ba’unah/19 January-18 June), during which these prayers of for the harvest (awshiyyat al-thimar) are recited at each liturgy:

Priest. “O Lord, please grant Thy blessings this year to the winds of the sky and the fruits of the earth.”

Deacon. “Pray for the winds of the sky and the fruits of the earth, the trees and vines, and every fruit-bearing tree so that Christ, our Lord, may grant them His blessings, bring them to harvesting without damage, and forgive us our sins.”

Congregation. “Lord, have mercy” (chanted three times).

Alternatively, a common may be used as a substitute for any of the preceding prayers during all seasons throughout the year:

Priest. “Graciously, O Lord, bless the waters of the river, the vegetation, the plants of the fields, the winds of the sky, and the crops of the land this year.”

Deacon. “Pray for the waters of the river, the vegetation, the plants of the fields, the winds of the sky, and the crops of the land, that our Lord may bless them and protect them this year, and forgive us our sins.”

Congregation. “Lord have mercy” (chanted three times).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Cerny, J. “The Origin of the Month Tybi.” Annales du Service des égyptiennes 43 (1943):173-81.
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  •  . “Some Coptic Etymologies.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 58 (1959):206-208.
  • Chassinat, E. Le Mystère d’ au mois de Khoiak, pt. 1. Cairo, 1966.
  • Derchain, P. Chronologie d’Egypte. Cairo, 1954. Dictionnaire de la civilisation égyptienne. Paris, 1959. Drioton, E. Pages d’égyptologie. Cairo, 1957.
  • Erman, A. La Religion des égyptiens. Paris, 1937.
  • Ghali, I. “Le Calendrier copte et l’ère des martyrs.” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 66 (1968):113-120.
  • Parker, R. The Calendars of Ancient Egypt, p. 83. Chicago, 1950. Wissa Wassef, Cérès. Pratiques rituelles et alimentaires des coptes. Cairo, 1971.

CÉRÈS WISSA WASSEF