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The meaning of «agpeya»

The Agpeya (Coptic: Ϯⲁϫⲡⲓⲁ, Arabic: أجبية‎) is the Coptic Christian "Prayer Book of the Hours" or breviary, and is equivalent to the Shehimo in the Syriac Orthodox Church (another Oriental Orthodox Christian denomination), as well as the Byzantine Horologion and Roman Liturgy of the Hours used by the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches, respectively. The Agpeya prayers are popular Christian prayers recited at fixed prayer times, facing the east by both individuals and families at home seven times a day, as well as for communal prayers as an introduction to Mass at church; this Christian practice has its roots in Psalm 119:164, in which the prophet David prays to God seven times a day.[1][2] The vast majority of the Coptic Christians learn the recitation and prayers of the Agpeya at an early age as children at home from their families. The Coptic Orthodox cycle of canonical hours is primarily composed of psalm readings from the Old Testament and gospel readings from the New Testament, with some added hymns of praise, troparia (known as "قطع" in the contemporary Arabic Agpeya and as "preces" or "litanies" in English), and other prayers.

Prostrations to God are a cornerstone in praying the Agpeya, with the breviary requiring "prostrating three times in the name of the Trinity; at the end of each Psalm … while saying the ‘Alleluia’; and multiple times during the more than forty Kyrie eleisons."[3]

It includes seven canonical hours, which to a great extent correspond to the Byzantine order, with an additional "Prayer of the Veil" which is usually recited by Bishops, Priests, and Monks. The Coptic terms for 'Matins' and 'Vespers' are 'The Morning Raising of Incense' and 'The Evening Raising of Incense' respectively, with reference to prayers rising to God.

The hours are chronologically laid out, each containing a theme corresponding to events in the life of Jesus Christ:[4]

Most of the Copts tend to recite the "contemporary" Agpeya prayers or parts thereof in Arabic; however, its English translations are also available in print and digital format for Copts living in English-speaking countries, and a French translation is also available. The British scholar O.H.E. Burmester edited and published a scholastic work based on a "historical" Agpeya dated to the 13th/14th century AD, "The Horologion of the Egyptian Church", in Egypt in 1973. It was published in two versions, a trilingual "English, Coptic and Arabic" version and a "Coptic only" version. A bilingual contemporary "Coptic and Arabic" Agpeya was also edited and published in Egypt in 1975 by S. Pisada. A contemporary Agpeya in "Coptic-only" - dedicated to the Theotokos Saint Mary in commemoration of the apparitions of our Lady of Zeitoun - was edited by E. Rizkalla, and published in the USA in 2014. A bilingual English-Coptic contemporary Agpeya was also published in the USA in 2015.

Before praying the Agpeya, Coptic Christians wash their hands and face in order to be clean before and present their best to God; shoes are removed in order to acknowledge that one is offering prayer before a holy God.[6][3] In this Christian tradition, and in many others as well, it is customary for women to wear a Christian headcovering when praying.[7][8]

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