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to the practice of the singers to vocalise upon one syllable sometimes to the length of several min­utes* the vespers alone, often attain the length of four or five hours.
As the rules of worship of the Copts do not allow them either to kneel or to sit down during services, they are obliged to support themselves by placing under their arm-pits, a long crutch, in order not to drop from fatigue.
This race is degenerating fast, and will soon disappear under the despotic sway of the Arabs. Their number is about one hundred and fifty thousand. Few of them understand the Coptic language, and although part of the service is sung in that tongue, it is usually afterwards explained in Arabic. Their modulations in singing are very bold, constant, and fatiguing; so much so, that long before the end of the song, all remembrance of any key-note, is lost.
All writers agree in speaking of their music, as tiresome in the extreme. This proceeds from three causes;—their extraordinary length, their insignificant melody, and the constant repetition of the syllables and vowels of a single word, where­by it is made almost impossible to follow the sense of the text. This fault is not confined to the Coptic sect only, but is largely found in the Greek church throughout the Orient. Fetis gives a strong example of one case, taken from an Eastern Hymnal, it runs as follows,—
Aga-a-a-a-a-a-aate-e-e-e-e mara ky-y-y-ri-i-i-i-i-ou.
• Fe-U nutoire Gen. T. 4. p 90

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III