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Musharaka [ Cooperation ]  Calligraphy by Khaled Al-Saai

Popular Culture and the Performing Arts

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A website for K-12 educators featuring innovative resource on the culture, geography, history and religions of the Middle East, including essays, classroom activities, downloadable multimedia content and interactive Google Earth tours.


Ensemble David-Agios

From: Harmonia Mundi Records

© Institut du Monde Arabe

This clip is 8.2 megabytes in size

Running time is 3 minutes and 29 seconds

This track is a chant that is sung preceding feast days of the Coptic religious calendar. In it God is thrice invoked, each time by three different names, "Holy Lord God, Holy God of Strength, Holy Immortal God" and then asked to have pity on the faithful. The Copts are a Christian community in Egypt. The Copts believe they descendant from the ancient Egyptians of the Pharaonic era and that they conversion of Egyptians to Christianity dates back as the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt as recounted in the New Testament. Christian Cannuyer has written "Coptic Christianity mingles remnants of pharaonic practices, elements of Hellenistic and Byzantine culture, and the dynamism of Arab civilization." This is illustrated by this chant, the lyrics of which are in Greek. Most of the Coptic liturgy has been in Arabic since shortly after the Arab conquest of Egypt, but short, ritualistic refrains such as this which have a long tradition are still in Greek. They are, however, familiar enough that they are understood by the congregation. See the Ethnicity and Identity unit for more about Christian communities in the region.

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