THE AGPEYA

About this site

 
 

The Agpeya, which is the Book of Hours or the Horologion of the Coptic Orthodox Church, was first established in the monastic life of Egypt, and through the influence of monasticism on the village parishes of Egypt, it became the standard prayer book for the clergy and the layperson in their daily lives, as well as the main prayer Book of Hours used in the Divine Liturgy.


The Agpeya consists of seven canonical hours of prayer, set to the time of the day, as well as an additional prayer called The Prayer of the Veil, which is prayed by monastics and others who chose the life of celibacy. The following is a list of the seven canonical hours:


  1. First hour (Latin: Prime) = 6 am. It consists of 19 Psalms and prayers that commemorate the Resurrection of Christ. The first hour serves as a time to ask God to bless the day, and reminds the person who prays to live and act as one of the “children of light and children of day.”

  2. Third hour (Latin: Terce) = 9 am. It consists of 12 Psalms and prayers that commemorate Pentecost.

  3. Sixth hour (Latin: Sext) = 12 pm. It consists of 12 Psalms and prayers that commemorate the hour of the crucifixion of Christ.

  4. Ninth hour (Latin: None) = 3 pm. It consists of 12 Psalms and prayers that commemorate the death of Christ.

  5. Eleventh hour (Latin: Vespers) = 5 pm. It consists of 12 Psalms and prayers that commemorate the burial of Christ, and serves as a time to reflect on the day as it comes to a close.

  6. Twelfth hour (Latin: Compline) = 6 pm. It consists of 12 Psalms and prayers that remind the person to stay vigilant through the night, without sin.

  7. Vigil prayer (Latin: Matins). It consists of three nocturns, all of which have the theme of vigilance and being prepared for the Parousia of Christ: the first nocturn is at 9 pm (or sunset in the summer), and it consists of 8 Psalms and the whole of Psalm 119; the second nocturn is at midnight, and it consists of 10 Psalms that are also prayed in the eleventh hour; and the third nocturn is at 3 am, and it consists of the 12 Psalms that are prayed in the twelfth hour.


The same cycle is repeated daily in the liturgical life of the Church and in the personal lives of the laypeople who pray the Agpeya. This makes the use of the Agpeya simple, as it does not include any additional Psalms, Troparia, Kontakions, etc. that change by the day as in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The only time the Agpeya is not prayed would be during the Holy Week of Pascha, which is when the hours of the Holy Week of Pascha are observed and prayed.


This website contains a new translation of the Agpeya, which went back to the Coptic sources rather than the Arabic sources, the latter consisting of variant readings of the prayers compared to the Coptic. The English translation here also tried to maintain the rhythm of the plainchant that is used to pray the Agpeya, so that it would be easier to focus on the prayer, rather than making attempts to correct the chants of abrupt sentences. As for the Psalms in this Agpeya, they are all from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, which, unlike the King James Bible and the New King James Bible, takes into consideration all the manuscript evidence available, including the Septuagint, in the translation of the Bible into contemporary English. The NRSV is also a literal translation, with very few paraphrases to account for differences of grammar in the English language. The NRSV also makes use of gender-inclusive language where necessary, and does not capitalize the pronouns that refer to God, as per the rules of English grammar. Thus, for this reason, the prayers translated in this Agpeya conform to the gender-inclusive language and capitalization rules where appropriate.


Remember me in your prayers,

Bishoy Dawood

1 Paoni  1727 A.M.

8 June 2011 A.D.

 


Seven times a day I praise you (Psalm 119:164)

All the Psalms on this website are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.