A collection of hymns for the whole year, commemorating the saints associated with each day of the month. One of these is sung in the service of the PSALMODIA that follows the office of COMPLINE, after the LOBSH of the THEOTOKIA of the day. But if it has already been sung in the same service of the psalmodia after the office of midnight prayer, and after the Theotokia and its lobsh and before the hymn (TARH) of the day, it is omitted.
There are usually two difnar hymns for the same saint, one with a shorter meter for use when the commemoration falls on an ADAM day, the other with a longer meter when it falls on a WATUS day. Occasionally, the saints are different, as on 3 Ba’unah when the adam hymn commemorates Saint Martha of Egypt, whereas the watus hymn commemorates Saint Alladius the Bishop.
The actual date of the compilation of the difnar is not known, but reference to such a book occurs as early as the eighth century. Apparently its contents are based mainly on the Arabic text of the SYNAXARION, because many of the proper names included in the Coptic text of the difnar are, in fact, transliterations of the Arabic form, not the proper Coptic (cf. Crum, 1909, p. 213).
Copies of the difnar are very rare. The text of the manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, Manchester (Coptic 21 and 22) is dated 1799 and contains only a record of the first four months. The manuscripts of the Library of the Coptic Patriarchate (Lit. 268, 269, 270) are dated 1790 and contain a complete series for all the months of the year. The Vatican manuscripts (53, 54, 59, 60, 104, 106) also are of the eighteenth century, but claim to be copies of a codex of the fourteenth century.
- Crum, W. E. Catalogue of Coptic Texts in the John Rylands Library. Manchester, 1909.
- O’Leary, De L. The Daily Office and Theotokia of the Coptic Church. London, 1911. Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol 3.
- . The Difnar (Antiphonarium) of the Coptic Church. London, 1926-1930. Coptic text only.