Coptic Praise (Tasbeha)

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Tasbeha (Praise) in the Coptic Church

Tasbeha (the arabic word for Praise) has a profound

and important place in the Coptic Church. The
Tasbeha is the language of Heaven, and the work (labour) of Heaven.

When one is so filled with Godly love, they find they don’t know how else to thank Him but to praise Him just like the angels are constantly doing.

Sacrifice of Thanks – Eucharist

Sacrifice of Praise – Tasbeha

The Church fathers call Tasbeha “decoration of the Church” by which the Church is decorated and ornamentally prepared for her Heavenly King and Bridegroom, with Heavenly decorations (Praise) of our hearts.

Just as the Holy Bible has an Old and a New Testament, so too does the Tasbeha.

In the Bible:

 The Old Testament consists of:

·         The Torah
·         Prophetic writings (Major and Minor prophets)
·         Historical writings (e.g. Chronicles)
·         Poetic writings (e.g. Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Songs)

 The New Testament consists of:

 ·         The Gospels

·         Acts

·         Letters of St Paul (14)

·         Catholicon letters (not written by St Paul)

The Tasbeha also has an Old and a New Testament. The Tasbeha consists of the following sections:

Introduction (Ten thino which means ‘Arise, children of the light’)

·         1st *Hoas (taken directly from Exodus Chapter 15)

·         2nd Hoas (taken directly from Psalm 135)

·         3rd Hoas (taken directly from the 2nd Deuterocanonical Books)

·         Hymn of the Three Youths

·         Commemoration of the Saints

·         Doxologies of the Saints

·         4th Hoas (taken directly from Psalms 148, 149 and 150)

·         *Psali (of the day)

·         *Theotokia (of the day)

·         Conclusion

The Old Testament section of the Tasbeha speaks of before Salvation.


It is made up of:

·         The 1st Hoas

·         The 2nd Hoas

·         The 3rd Hoas

·         Commemoration of the Saints

·         The 4th Hoas

The New Testament section of the Tasbeha is of after Salvation, praising our Lord, and pronouncing and confirming Salvation.

It is made up of:

·         Doxologies of the Saints

·         The Psali

·         The Theotokia



+ The Old Testament section of the Tasbeha


David the prophet said “we went [passed] through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfilment [rest]” (Psalm 66:12).

The water represents Moses and the children of Israel crossing the sea.

The fire represents the Three Youths in the fire.

The rest is the Heavenly rest with the Saints and the Heavenlies.


The 4 Hoases are also split into two sections:

1)      3 Hoases before the Commemoration of the Saints

water          1st Hoas  (Crossing of the sea)

o   Crossing over/passing from slavery to freedom          

o Crossing over (Passover)                                                                

Symbolise Baptism in water

o   Crossing over from the Passover to Salvation

water         2nd Hoas (Giving thanks for this Salvation)

fire          3rd Hoas (Praise for this Salvation)

o   The Three Youths + 4th being the Angel changed fire to


                                       Symbolises trials (of fire). 4th Angel symbolises Jesus descending into Hades to save us from hell fire

rest          Commemoration of the Saints

o Commemoration of Old Testament and New Testament Saints

o   Entering into sharing with the Heavenlies and Saints

 Symbolises heavenly rest, happiness and joy

2)      1 Hoas after the Commemoration of the Saints (in which all creation praises God after they have been brought to rest).

  4th Hoas  (Praising God for the rest)

+ The New Testament section of the Tasbeha


       Doxologies: Respect and honour of the Saints

                 Psali: Glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ

Theotokia:  Praise for the Mother of God (Theotokos – from which comes the title Theotokia). It is a glorification (or hallowing) for St Mary for her role in the Incarnation and Salvation.

There are two styles for the Psali and Theotokia:


·         Prayed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays

·         Has a more joyous tune and is shorter than Watos Theotokia

·      Called ‘Adam’ because start with the word ‘Adam’, and talk about the Humanity of God.


·         Prayed on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

·    Start with the word ‘3oleka’ (meaning bush - ‘votsð watos), and talk about the Divinity of God.

So Adam and Watos Psalis and Theotokias are a simple way through Praise to understand the Humanity and Divinity of God for all ages and levels of understanding.

The Tasbeha therefore is a school – a spiritual, theological and philosophical school summarising the Old Testament and the New Testament in simple faith...

As related by His Eminence Metropolitan Dr. Anba Abraham. All rights reserved.