An Egyptian Arabic term (plural tobhat) meaning “prayer,” from Coptic twbh (Tobh, pray, prayer). It is an ecclesiastical term used in the plural for the litany of intercessions in the midnight psalmody consisting of a listing of saints (Arabic, majma‘ al-qiddisin) and a series of prayers, each beginning with twbh mp[c (tobh amebshays), meaning “Pray to the Lord.” The Tobhat in the midnight psalmody for the whole year consist of seventy-four verses or prayers, but for the month of Kiyahk they consist of eighty-three verses or prayers. The Tobhat, like the Doxologies, are sung to a melody type called WATUS, which varies according to the season.
On all feasts of Our Lord, the Tobhat are sung only as far as the verse “Pray to the Lord for us, Lord Claudius and Theodore and Apa Iskhron and Apa Isaac, that He may forgive us our sins” or the verse of Saint George according to the ritual manuscript Tartib al-Bi‘ah, (The Order of the Church), after which are added the last three verses of the Tobhat.
The intercessions recited after reading the Gospel and TARH in the canonical hours of Holy Week are also known as Tobhat. The Tartib al-Bi‘ah says that the Tobhat are to be recited in each canonical hour of Holy Week (especially in monasteries), except the first and third hours of the night, because the people are not then fasting and cannot perform prostrations.
Some of the deacon’s responses, exclamations, and interpositions in the Divine Liturgy and other rites are called Tobhat, as in the Tobh in the Prayer of Thanksgiving and in the Prayer of the Waters, Seeds, and Airs of Heaven.
- Ibn Siba‘ Yuhanna ibn Abi Zakarya. Kitab al-Jawharah al-Nafisah fi ‘Ulum al-Kanisah, ed. Viktur Mansur. Cairo, 1902. Latin version Pretiosa Margarita de Scientiis Ecclesiasticis, trans. Vincent Mistrih, pp. 325, esp. note, and 327. Cairo, 1966.
EMILE MAHER ISHAQ