Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I saw this video of the “Cave Church” in Egypt, with many Coptic Christians singing worship songs. I was wondering what it was. I would not think that those instruments, etc., would be allowed in a Divine Liturgy, or that type of singing for that matter. However, I did not know if what they were doing was “extra”, like a time to worship outside of church, or if it was an evangelical gathering, or if it was just a different practice within Coptic Orthodoxy.  Is this a church service or something else?

The event that took place in this video was a unique occasion. On January 1st, 2011--some months prior to this gathering, outside the Church of the Two Saints (St. Mark & St. Peter) in Alexandria, Egypt, a bombing took place by a radical Islamist terrorist group. Many were martyred and injuredincluding infants. The church was full as it is customary for Copts to attend church on New Year's Eve and again on New Years Day for the Divine Liturgyto spend the end and beginning of the year in the church and thank God for the year that passed and prays for the one to come. Subsequently, after this bombing incident, more bombings at churches and Christian businesses were on the rise and aggression toward the Copts was escalating again. The event in this video was held at a Coptic Orthodox Church in a well-known location in the Mokattam Mountain in an area called the district of the garbage collectors or the garbage cityclose to Cairo. This area is comprised of Christians only, but despite the persecutions against them and their extreme poverty, many of them place the sign of the cross on their humble homes. Several years ago, this area was miraculously transformed and a magnificent church with many unique religious carvings was hewn out of the mountain and can seat hundreds. This church is named in honor of St. Simon the Tanner, who was one of the distinctive figures that was instrumental in the miracle of the moving of the Mokattam Mountain in the 10th century. Because of the persistent attacks on Copts in 2011, many churches of all denominations agreed to hold a prayer service at this church because it could accommodate a very large crowd. Clapping, percussion, and other musical instruments and hymns are typically not used in the traditional prayers, praises, chants, and hymns of the Coptic Orthodox Church and never in liturgical practices and hymnology. Therefore, what is viewed in this video does not represent the traditional rituals of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
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