When I was looking for Orthodox monasteries that sold beeswax candles, I came across St. Antony Coptic Orthodox Monastery in the California Scete, in Barstow. “OK, I get it. Desert fathers. Mohave Desert.”
I’ve said it before: the Copts in America have some really good websites and are keen to preserve their liturgical culture in the United States and promote their God-honoring psalmnody. (I thought I had blogged about Tasbeha.org, but perhaps it was one of the entries that got eaten by a worm a couple of years ago.) But until I came across the St. Anthony site, I had never heard Coptic psalmnody in English. What a gift! And you may download Saturday Midnight Psalmnody! Put it on your MP3 player.
There is something typically Orthodox and maximalist about the chant, but tender and lovely, too, especially when chanting about the Myrrh-Bearing Women, the Three Children in the Furnace, and of course, the Virgin Mary. But the harmonies are tight, tight, tight. Love them.
There’s a lot of music there, so I’d get each of the canticles (note they start with Kyries but quickly move to English), “Arise O Children” “We Look at the Resurrection” and “We Follow You.” On the other hand, the “Commemoration of the Saints” does wear on one’s patience.
The neat thing, especially if you’re familiar with the texts even in passing, you can pick the chants up very fast.