A liturgical book that contains a collection of hymns for the whole year. The hymns of the Difnar are sung in the service of the Psalmodia, which follows the office of Complines after the lobsh of the Theotokia. The hymns are arranged according to the Coptic calendar. There are two hymns for each day, one in the Batos tune and another in the Adam tune.
The title of this book means that the hymns are sung antiphonically. It seems that the Difnar was composed before the Synaxarion. The compilers of the Difnar have repeated different hymns in order to cover the whole year. Hence, the hymns for Pesynthius are used for Lazarus, and those of Theodosius are used for Cyril of Alexandria. If a saint has more than one feast in the year, the same hymns are used for both occasions. This is the case for the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, Severus of Antioch, and others.
The earliest manuscript is from the collection of the Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Hamuli and now preserved in the Piermont Morgan Library (M575) and dated 893. This manuscript is in the Sahidic dialect. The Monastery of St. Antony possesses a complete Bohairic version of the Difnar dated 1385. In 1922, the monk Domadius al-Baramusi published the first six months of the year. His edition contains the first two stanzas in Coptic and a complete translation in Arabic.
The edition of De Lacy O’Leary (1926-1928) contains the Coptic texts and Arabic titles with an index in the last volume. In 1984, Fr. Gabriel Anba Bishoy published the second part of the year. In 1985, Bishop Matthaus published the whole text according to a manuscript preserved in the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus (Abu Sargah) dated 1746, and two manuscripts from the Monastery of the Syrians and the Monastery of St. Pshoi at Wadi al-Natrun.