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Prayers from the East

I’ve recently been perusing a book entitled Prayers from the East, edited by Richard Marsh. The book is a delightful collection of prayers, liturgies, and ceremonies from the Oriental Orthodox Churches (i.e. Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Eritrean, etc.).  Some wonderful liturgical gems to be found here. Such as this prayer which forms the beginning of the Coptic Anaphora:

Worthy and just!
Now we are standing together with the heavenly choirs.
We praise Our Lord with the seven choirs of the angels and with the two choirs of Cherubim and Seraphim.
We become as the tenth choir of the heavenly creatures.

You who have give to those on earth, the hymn of the Seraphim, count us with the heavenly hosts.
As we are counted with the heavenly hosts, we ought to stand with them looking to the east; to the throne of the Sun of Righteousness.

Worthy and right, worthy and right,
truly, indeed, you are worthy and right.
You, who are Master, Lord, God of truth,
being before the ages and reigning forever,
you who dwell in the highest and look upon the lowly;
you who have created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is therein.
the Father of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
by whom you have created all things, seen and unseen, who sits upon the throne.

You who are seated, stand.
Before you stand the angels,
the archangels,
the principalities, the authorities,
the thrones, the dominions, the powers.

Look towards the east.
You are he around whom stand the Cherubim
full of eyes, and the Seraphim with six wings
praising continuously without ceasing, saying:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord of hosts;
heaven and earth are full of your holy glory.
Glory be to you, who is worshiped by all the holy powers.


  1. This is indeed lovely. I find the allusions to Revelation (one of my favorite NT books) very fitting but also a bit peculiar, since Revelation does not appear in the Orthodox lectionary.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
  2. Chris Donato wrote:

    I assume you know the reasons for that, Michael. I don’t find it “peculiar” per se, because the allusion does not contain any substance for which the Apocalypse is not included in the Orthodox lectionary (but to my knowledge, the Coptic Orthodox Church does read the book in its entirety during the vigil night of Easter Friday).

    Of course these days the practice results from received tradtion more than the initial reasons proffered in the first few centuries AD.

    Indeed, it’s a beautiful prayer.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  3. Chris: Thanks for the info on the Coptic church. Yes, I know the history. Perhaps my word “peculiar” was not the best choice. Maybe “ironic”? My point is that the spirit of Revelation pervades Orthodox prayer and liturgy despite the absence of Rev texts in the lectionary.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  4. Chris Donato wrote:

    Michael, how related do you think this is to the Orthodox view of what is taking place during the divine liturgy (i.e., something akin to heaven intersecting earth)?

    Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

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