1- The pogro Hymn ‘Ebooro’ in Arabic
It is chanted with three melodies:
· One melody for the Morning Service of the Feasts: Christmas, Epiphany, Resurrection, and Holy Nuptials.
· A second melody is used at the conclusion of the Adam Theotokies (i.e. glorification for the Theotoxos) in the Midnight Praise.
· A third melody is used in the Passion Week, at the conclusion of each hour, responding after every part (stychon) with the words Keri elisoon.
The language of the Hymn:
All the words of this hymn are written in Coptic language.
The Occasion on which the Hymn is chanted:
Some of the deep spiritual words are distinguished for their fitness for every occasion along the whole year round, especially when these words do not convey a specific event
or occasion such as certain days or feasts like Christmas, Epiphany, Resurrection, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Apostles feast, Transfiguration Day; or fasts like the lent or the Passion week or Kiahk…etc.
Examples of such spiritual words as ‘Ebooro’ which mean “O King of peace …grant us Your peace …Disperse the enemies of the church, and fortify her, that she may not be shaken. …Emmanuel Our God, is now in our midst, …May He bless us, and heal the sicknesses of our souls and bodies”…
They are words that stir up the emotions, and we need to repeat them every day: in passion, in sadness as well as in pleasure and joy, even when we sing praise every day. These words fill our hearts with the peace of God, which surpasses every mind. For Saint Paul said: “For He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us. Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new
man, so making peace” (Eph.2: 14)
Therefore, ‘Ebooro’ is chanted on various occasions with more than one melody, for its words are given the color that fits the occasion.
On feasts and nuptials this hymn is chanted with the joyful tune of praise. At the conclusion of the Adam Theotokies, it is chanted with its distinguished active tune, whereas in the Passion Week with the sad tune.
The method of performance:
‘Ebooro’ with the joyful tune is performed by using the cymbals and the triangle: the two instruments which, when used, reveal the state of joy the church lives. ‘Ebooro’ with the sad tune is performed without using the cymbals and the triangle. ‘Ebooro’ consists of four “verses” and a conclusion; therefore its performance is more beautiful with the “antiphon” method by responding between the choruses on both sides or between the chorus and a soloist.
The Musical scale and tempo:
We will present here three melodies for “Ebooro”: the joyful tune, the yearly praise tune, and the sad tune. The joyful tune, a marvelous melody full of life, cheerfulness and depth. It is the
melody that changes the state of any person, from excessive sadness to spiritual delight, from frustrating despair to hope, and from slackness and laziness to active struggling.
Therefore, the church has chosen this melody to be chanted by the faithful in the feasts and the nuptials, with the use of the cymbals and the triangle. ‘Ebooro’ with the joyful tune begins with “Byati mode” and from “fourfold scale” The musical ancient deep-rooted stanza begins bearing the redolence of years and manifesting the spiritual dimension enwrapping every tune. Then it changes with extreme smoothness to “Agam Mode” at the word cemni Nan to hover round the zone of sharp refrains, then out of it to go back to “Byati mode ” with a stanza similar to the first one.
As to ‘Ebooro’ with the yearly praise tune, which is also of “Byati mode” and of twofold scale and higher tempo, it is a tune by which those who are awake for Midnight prayer praise the Lord.
The third tune of ‘Ebooro’ is the sad tune with which the congregation chants along the whole Passion Week. It is of ‘Agam mode’3, which is of exceeding power. Probably the wise church has chosen this strong mode for this sad week to assure the Copts and all the world as well that we do not mourn as those who have no hope, but our mourning is filled with the power of hope, for we are confident that our Lord Jesus Christ died to grant us life.
As for the tempo of the three tunes it is almost steady, about 100 pulses per minute.
Explanation and Contemplation
‘O king of peace, grant us Your peace, render unto us Your peace, and forgive us our sins.’ How deep these words are indeed and strong! They fill the soul with peace, that which would be simple or compound, twofold or threefold or fourfold according to what it
includes of the number of signs which define the time of tunes and pauses in each bar.
Peace which we ask from Him, the King of peace, to “lay down in peace, and sleep” (Psalm 4:8)
So the joyful “Ebooro” starts quiet and slow to express this peace
pervading us. And with its smooth, joyful and delightful stanzas it begins to express the state of one singing joyfully, being filled with peace, with peace blessing, for “the Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11)
After a while the hymn goes up gradually in active rhythms up to the phrase ‘Semni Nan ?Ntek Herini’ which means ‘render unto us Your peace’…. Here the tone changes in genius fluency to “Agam tone” with the same scale of the base “tonic” (i.e. the stability) of “Al-Byati tone” with which the hymn began.
And in the new scale the tunes rise to hover round the zone of the sharp refrains1, then the hymn becomes strong bright expressing the demand of the people who joyfully feel peace, but demand from the king of peace to render unto them His peace together with forgiveness of their sins.
In this strong and sharp zone, the tune depicts the feelings of a man who by his peace of heart could pass safely through the water and the fire, to overcome tribulations, and to come prevailing, victorious and joyful. As the Lord has promised us, saying, “these things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
Then the tune goes back to “Byati tone”, and to the mid-zone of the
musical scale, to conclude the first stanza. This musical mode is repeated The higher the tunes go, the sharper they become. The zone of playing or chanting in which contain these sharp tunes is called the zone of refrains, and the voice is bright and glittering.
four times. Then the hymn of joy ends with a final stanza “Coda”1 that is “ten oo osht” which means “we worship You”.
N.B.: When David Ensemble performed “Ebooro” with its three
melodies, this final appendix “ten oo osht” has been put after the sad tune only as a conclusion for the three melodies altogether in order to create a connection among the three. However, in the Holy Liturgy, the three melodies are not chanted together, for the purpose of performing them together is merely to reveal the musical genius and depth of spirituality of the Church fathers, who composed three melodies for the same words, each to express a specific occasion.
As for “Ebooro”, the yearly praise tune, it is active like all the hymns of praise songs. It is of “Byati mode” also. Though the words are the same, the tune is different, depicting the joy of one feeling himself distinguished among others for the peace he has. So he chants “There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21).
For all the wicked are deprived of this peace, “even if they speak peace to their neighbors, mischief is in their hearts” (Psalms 28:3). Therefore, there is no resemblance between this tune and the former one, neither in smoothness nor in cheerfulness, but the only resemblance is in its power.
And if we consider the musical note of this hymn, we will find it
exceedingly simple in composition. The rhythmic form is simple with only two rhythms, and a fluent melody that utilizes only five tunes of the musical scale. It is only one musical stanza in one mode, consisting of twelve bars (mesura)1 repeated four times.
As for “Ebooro” in the sad tune, it is one of the strongest and simple
tunes in the Coptic Church. How wonderful and how marvelous this tune is when the whole congregation chants it during the Passion Week, being overwhelmed by a marvelous and completely true spirituality!
In spite of the sad feelings reflected in the hymns, and in the image of the cross printed on the black wrappers that decorate the church, and imprinted in the memory of the congregation and fixed on the Crucifixion panel, in spite of all this, the sad tune of “Ebooro” is mostly powerful. It is the power of hope in the expected Resurrection.
When all the congregation chant it in one voice, I feel as if the church is shaking. I myself shake within, feeling that all the mountains of evil hovering over my breast is dissolving like
wax, and the powerful peace of God that surpasses every mind fills me, overflows the church and the congregation. It seems as if the church has gone high up and became a sky, or the sky has condescended and the glory of the Lord came down upon the earth!
1 In the past and till the sixteenth century music was written without vertical “Bars” And from the seventeenth century there began the use of a horizontal line to cut the musical scale, separating the bars from each other.
Here I recall the image depicted in the Book of Chronicles when “the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph, and Heman and Jeduthun…stood at the east end of the altar having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them the priests
sounding with trumpets. Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord…that the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord. So that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” (2Chr.5: 12-14)
(1) It is not a miracle; it is a reality we should live. As we sing praise in one voice, the earth becomes heaven and the glory of the Lord fills the place, the cloud being one of the features of this glory. But the Lord’s glory has other features besides the cloud, which if we feel, we will become sure that the glory of the Lord has filled the house, the church or the heart. And the peace; the peace of God is another feature of this glory.
For if the mountains of hatred and spite melted, if the hills of envy and slander trembled, if the bounds of lust within this congregation broke down when they shouted with one voice “Ebooro” (O king of peace), then we should be sure that the glory of the Lord has filled the church and His peace had come unto the believers’ hearts.
In this sad tune, full of the power of hope, expressed by “Agam mode”, each of its verses or “Coplets”1 is preceded by (kyria elyson) three times i.e. “Have mercy, O lord, upon us” for the congregation is well aware of their urgent need of the ample mercy of God, especially in an era in which peace is absent, that peace which we all need, the peace which, when filling the believers, they will shout with David: “God is our refuge and strength, … therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the
mountains be carried into the midst of the sea …God is in the midst of her ; she shall not be moved …” (Psalms 46)
- O King of peace, give us Your peace;
Establish for us Your peace;
And forgive us our sins.
- Scatter the enemies of the Church;
And fortify her that she may not shake forever.
- Emmanuel our God in our midst;
Now with the glory of His Father
and the Holy Spirit.
- May He bless all of us
and cleanse our hearts;
Heal our souls and bodies.
- We worship You, O Christ,
with Your Good Father and the Holy Spirit;
For You have been crucified and saved us.