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Airdate: Sep 11, 2019
Scientist: Father Anthony Tanious

Time Capsule of an Ancient Practice

Time Capsule of an Ancient Practice
In the rituals performed by the Coptic Church, a Christian denomination with roots in Egypt, little has changed in eighteen hundred years.

Time Capsule of an Ancient PracticeHere's a program from our archives.Ambience: Coptic New Year's serviceThis week, members of the Coptic faith, an ancient Christian denomination with roots in Egypt, are celebrating the beginning of a new year. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. In a service which lasts an entire night, New Year's hymns are sung as they have been for centuries.Tanious: Well at certain times you will be hearing praises. At other times you will be hearing glorification of the saints." Father Antonious Tanious is with the Saint Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Tanious: It'll be mostly in the Coptic, sometimes Greek language. It is all very ancient, very historic. Some of the hymns and the tunes go back over a thousand years. And towards the end of the night it'll be mostly praises and these are praises that are sung in monasteries, throughout our churches for centuries and centuries."Sung in honor of the Copts who suffered under Egyptian rulers, these hymns are a testimony to a religion which has struggled to remain true to its origins.Tanious: The Coptic Orthodox Church has not deviated in any way and it still practices the ancient traditions as they were established in the beginning years. We are an original church. Thanks to many persecutions who've kept us secluded, we've become like a time capsule for many people who are aware of the Christian history and they see our practices today and it is as if they're living eighteen hundred years ago."Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. We've been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.