The  word "Liturgy" refers  to  the   Christian remembrance and celebration of
Jesus Christ's propitiatory sacrifice of His body and blood. Also known as the
service of the Eucharist, the  Liturgy is  central to  any Christian order  of
worship. "And  He took bread, gave  thanks and broke  it, and gave it to them,
saying,  'This is My body which  is given for you;  do this in remembrance  of
Me.' Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This  cup is the new
covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.'" [Luke 22:19-20]

At  the present time there   are three Liturgies used  in  the Coptic Orthodox

1. The Liturgy according to St Basil,  bishop of Caesarea,
2. The Liturgy according to St Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop of Constantinople,
3. The  Liturgy  according to  St Cyril  I, the  24th  Patriarch of the Coptic
   Orthodox Church.

The Liturgy  according to St. Basil  is  the  one used  most of  the year; St.
Gregory's Liturgy is  used during  the  feasts  and on certain occasions; only
parts of St. Cyril's Liturgy are used nowadays.

The  Liturgy was composed by  the Apostles as  taught to them by Jesus Christ,
who after  His resurrection  appeared to  them:   "to  whom He  also presented
Himself alive  after His suffering by  many  infallible proofs, being  seen by
them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of
God." [Acts 1:3]

It is worth noting here that the Liturgy was first used (orally) in Alexandria
by St.  Mark and that it was   recorded in writing by   St. Cyril  I, the 24th
Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox  Church of Egypt.  This  is the Liturgy known
as St. Cyril's Liturgy  and from which the other  two liturgies -- referred to
above -- are derived.

St. Mark, as we know, was one of the seventy disciples of Jesus  Christ. Also,
he accompanied St. Peter and St. Paul and shared the Apostolic work with them.
St. Mark came to Egypt  around the year  40  A.D.  and established the  Coptic
church in Alexandria and used the  above-mentioned Liturgy there. This Liturgy
is one of the oldest  liturgies known to the Christian  world. Versions of St.
Mark's Liturgy exist in Ge'ez, the ancient language  of Ethiopia, which ceased
to be a living language in the 14th century A.D., but has been retained as the
official and liturgical language of the Coptic Church of Ethiopia.

The sections and divisions  of the three  liturgies follow  the same order and
subject matter as  taught  to us by the Lord  Jesus Christ: "And  as they were
eating,  Jesus took  bread, blessed it  and  broke  it, and   gave  it to  the
disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is  My body.'  Then  He took the cup, and
gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. For this
is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed  for  many for the remission of
sins.'" [Matthew 26:26-28] This sacrament has also been mentioned by St. Paul:
"For I received  from  the Lord that  which I also delivered to  you: that the
Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took  bread; and when He
had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is  My body  which is
broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same manner He also took
the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant  in My blood. This
do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'  For  as often as you eat
this bread and drink this cup, you  proclaim the Lord's  death till He comes."
[Corinthians-1 11:23-26]

The  Coptic Liturgy    has  the  following   main  sections,  which   are also
characteristics of almost every Liturgy all over the Christian world:

  a. Prayer of Thanksgiving
  b. Prayer of Consecration
  c. Prayer of Fraction
  d. Prayer of Communion

The Liturgy of St. Basil the great, bishop of Caesarea
As we mentioned before, the Liturgy of St. Basil is the one most commonly used
in  the Coptic Orthodox Church. It  is also widely used in  the other Orthodox
Churches around the world. The Basilian Liturgy was established at  the end of
the 4th century, and drew heavily on the Liturgy  of St.  Mark the Evangelist.
The Basilian Liturgy is addressed to God the Father, as  is St. Mark's Liturgy
(better known as St.  Cyril's Liturgy), whereas the Liturgy of  St. Gregory is
addressed to the Son.  Vespers and Matins prayers  always preceede the service
of the Basilian Liturgy  (the same is done with  Gregory's Liturgy or  Cyril's

We have to assume that the present Basilian Liturgy is somewhat different from
the  original  one, in that  certain sections  (e.g.  Intercessions) must have
been  added to  it. The Basilian  Liturgy, as prayed in  the   Coptic Orthodox
Church, includes the following as its main subsections (within the  4 sections
mentioned above):

  o   Offertory: Offering of the bread (Lamb)
  o   The Circuit
  o   The Prayer of Thanksgiving
  o   Absolution
  o   The Intercessions: St. Mary, the Archangels, the Apostles, St.
        Mark, St. Menas, St. George, Saint of the day, the Pope and bishops.
  o   Readings: 3 Passages from Pauline Epistles, Catholic Epistles, and Acts
  o   Synexarium: The Saints of the day
  o   The Trisagion
  o   The Holy Gospel with an introductory prayer and Psalm reading.
  o   Supplications for the Church, the fathers, the congregations, the
        president, government, and offcials.
  o   The creed (Nicene creed of St. Athanasius, the 20th Coptic Pope)
  o   The Prayer of reconciliation
  o   Holy, Holy, Holy
  o   Crossing the offerings
  o   Prayer of the Holy Spirit invocation and outpouring.
  o   Supplications for the Church unity and peace, the fathers, the priests,
        the Place, the (Nile) water (or the vegetation or the Crops), and the
  o   Memory of the congregation of Saints
  o   Introduction to the sharing of the Holy Communion
  o   The fraction of the bread
  o   The profession and declaration of Orthodox faith
  o   The Holy Communion
  o   Psalm 150 and appropriate hymns (concurrently with the offering of the
        Holy Communion).
  o   Benediction
  o   The Eulogia

The sermon  (usually offered by  the presiding priest)  is   given (if at all)
right  after the reading   of the Gospel  or at  the  end  of the service. The
Sermon, which is not an integral part of the  Liturgy, offers explanations and
contemplations of the Gospel.