The Heritage of the Coptic Orthodox Church

Praising - the Work of the Angels

Albair Gamal Mikhail
January 30, 2004

A short article by HCOC Servant, Albair, on the spirituality of praising in the Church. The article is a merge of two articles originally written in Arabic, translated by Bishoy K. R. Dawood and edited by Alexander A-Malek. The two articles were individually recorded in audio in the first two productions of HCOC: The Annual Sunday Midnight Praise and the Annual Sunday Vespers Praise.

Praising is the work of the heavenly hosts, and the gift of God for the earthly, to commune with the angels in glorifying and thanking Him for His great works. Praising is our everlasting virtue in the kingdom of heaven. Praising is the bliss of the soul, the rejuvenation of the heart, the release of the spirit from the boundaries of the body to the height of spirituality. Praising is the highest degree of prayer, for it overlooks the worldly necessities and seeks after the heavenly. Praises that proceed from the heart, accompanied by feelings of love for the Almighty Creator, are considered as a living sacrifice, like a delightful fragrance of incense; He accepts them from the singer as a sign of love for the kind Creator, and in return the singer is bestowed with numerous unspoken blessings.

Man was created by God to praise, glorify, and thank Him for His great creation. Praising is the sacrifice of love to the omnipotent Creator, and so the absence of praising is in itself the absence of love for the God of love. Since sin entered into the world, praising became absent from the life of humanity. However, with the redemption by Christ on the wood of the cross, sin was defeated, and praising returned once again.

Praising is the oldest service remembered in the Holy Bible and in the Church Tradition - it is even the work of the heavenly hosts before the creation of mankind. St. Basil the Great once said: “the work of praising attracts the service of the angels, because it is a part of their work, and they become attached to those who share in their service.”

Praising is the service of all who are in heaven and those who will enter it. It is the service of the angels, the spirits of the saints in Paradise, and all the flocks who will be at the right hand of God on the Day of Judgment. In the revelation of St. Pachomios concerning the departure of the spirits from their bodies, it is written: “And when that spirit enters into Paradise, it lives by chanting and praising God at all times.”

Praising in the Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the main cornerstones of worship, containing an abundance of theological knowledge, the art of literature, and the spirituality of worship. In the Apostolic Churches, and among them the Coptic Orthodox Church, praising and vocalizing hymns is worship as such, and is not, as in some other churches, assistance to the service of worship. For worship in our church is a spiritual rite that is chanted, which, through the expression of its melodies and spirituality, is able to preach the theology of the Church and its thoughts to every person praying in it.

Praising prepares our minds to the Holy Liturgy, and it uplifts the spirituality of the church, which is perfected by uniting with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. May the Lord continue to give us this service of praising Him all days with all the heavenly hosts. And to Him belongs all glory, from now and unto the ages. Amen.