An acclamation in which glory (Greek, dóxa) is attributed to a particular person or persons. The earliest Christian doxologies are addressed to the Father or to the Son, but with the development of trinitarian theology, they began to express glory to the Father through the Son and Holy Spirit, or through the Son in the Holy Spirit. The subordinationist sense which Arians gave to formulas expressing glory to the Father through the Son (and Holy Spirit) led, by way of reaction, to the use of formulas expressing trinitarian consubstantiality. The fourth-century Syrian formula “Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” was eventually adopted in the church generally. The formula “Glory to the Father with the Son and Holy Spirit,” which appeared in fourth-century Egypt, may have in its background the Coptic use of “with” as the copula “and.”
The following doxologies may be noted in particular:
- The Great Doxology, the doxological hymn beginning “Glory to God in the highest,” which in Coptic Egypt is called “The Hymn of the Angels.” In the traditions of both the Copts and the West Syrians, it is attributed to Saint Athanasius, but the antiquity of this attribution is not certain. One recension of this doxological hymn is found in Book 8 of the Apostolic Constitutions, and so it was surely composed before the last quarter of the fourth century. In its Egyptian form, as in the form used in many other churches (but not in that of the Western mass), it was expanded with a second part, beginning typically with the Greek kataxíoson, Coptic arikataxioin, whose various verses, differing somewhat in various recensions, are drawn mainly from the Psalter. In established Coptic usage, part 1 (the original doxological hymn) is used in the morning office, while part 2 is used in compline (and was formerly used in vespers). There is some evidence suggesting that in the Coptic morning office as it was in the Middle Ages, part 2 was still joined to part 1, as it is in Byzantine orthros today.
- The Minor Doxology, “Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages.” In Coptic, Syrian, and Byzantine usages its two parts are often separated, the first part (“Glory to the Father . . .”) being inserted before the penultimate verse or stanza, the second part (“Now and forever . . .”) before the final one, in a series of verses or stanzas.
- Doxologia (Arabic, tamjid), a species of Coptic ecclesiastical hymnic composition, in stanzas, usually addressed to the Virgin, to the angels, to individual saints, or to a particular category of saints. The daily use of such doxologies, found in the liturgical collection called the Psalmodia, is prescribed at a certain point in the evening and morning offices of incense and in the sung offices, drawn from the Psalmodia, which follow the midnight office and the morning office as they are in the horologion. Special doxologies are prescribed for use on the greater feasts, on Lenten weekdays, on the Saturdays and Sundays of Lent, and in the month of Kiyahk. While certain stanzas of Coptic Theotokia exist in Greek, no Greek or Syriac equivalent of a stanza of a Coptic doxologia has been identified. From this, one may infer that the doxologies are original Coptic compositions. Comparison of various collections, ancient and modern, reveals a few instances in which the same stanza or series of stanzas appear in a doxology in one place but as a stanza of a Theotokion (see THEOTOKIA) in another. This permits one to conclude that a Coptic doxology in this sense is definable not by its literary form but by its hymnic content and by the place of its use in the structures of the Coptic offices.
- Capelle, B. “Le Texte du ‘Gloria in excelsis.'” Revue d’histoire écclesiastique 44 (1949):439-57.
- Leclercq, H. “Doxologies.” In Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, Vol. 4, pt. 2, cols. 1525-36. Paris, 1921.
- Quecke, H. Untersuchungen zum koptischen Stundengebet, pp. 52-56, 80, 174-90, 274-99. Louvain, 1970.
- Yassa ‘Abd al-Masih. “Doxologies in the Coptic Church.” Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie copte 4 (1938):97-113; 5 (1939):175-91; 6 (1940):19-76; 8 (1942):31-61.
AELRED CODY, O.S.B.