Daily offices

We know very little about the shape of daily prayer in this tradition. The services have compositions attributed to Ephrem, Jacob of Nisibis, Simeon bar Sabba'e, Maruta of Maipharkat, Narsai and Babai the Great. According to Bar Hebraeus, it was Simon bar Sabba'e who was responsible for arranging the daily office into two choirs or weeks. Weeks are classed as even or uneven, depending on whether they follow an even or uneven Sunday in the calendar. Two choirs alternate the privilege of intoning the office: the first choir on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of uneven weeks, and the second choir on Tuesday and Thursday, with the order reversed in even weeks. According to the study of Robert Taft (1986), the three-day Hours and Compline have all but disappeared, Terce and Sext surviving only in Lenten ferias, and Compline on some feasts.

Ramsa (Vespers) and Sapra (Matins) are regarded by scholars as having almost a pure cathedral shape; that is, unlike most traditions, they have resisted the wholesale incorporation of elements from the monastic office. Ramsa begins with marmita, the psalmody of which seems to be the remains of None; Onita of incense; Laku Mara hymn; suraya, and antiphon (onita dqdam). Then follow the fixed Cathedral psalms: 141, 142, 119: 105-12; 117; followed by suraya, onita d-bata, and intercessions in the form of karazuta; trisagion and collect; and blessing. There is also a stational procession.

Sapra has fixed morning psalms; and then the Lauds psalms: 148, 150, 117, with collect; onita d-sapra, Laku Mara, benedicte or miserere (festal/ferial), Gloria in excelsis; trisagion and Lord's Prayer; prayers and blessing. There are no readings of scripture other than at Eastertide, these being a hallmark of the monastic usage.

There are also Nocturns (Lelya) and a Vigil.

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