An Explanation of My Heart & My Tongue

Advent Series | Hidden Treasures

In this episode of Hidden Treasures, we discuss the beautiful praise "My Heart and My Tongue" of the Kiahk Midnight Praises. Read more

**Correction: In this video, it is mentioned that Hos is an Arabic word. However, it is a Coptic word NOT an Arabic word.**

Introduction to Psali Prayers

The praise “My Heart and My Tongue” (or “Apahyt nem palac”) is a Psali Adam for the second Canticle (Hos), and is chanted during the 7&4 praises in the month of Kiahk. The word “Psali” comes from a Greek word meaning “a chant,” and is a group of poetic verses used to praise the Lord, St. Mary, or any of the martyrs or saints.

A Psali is often arranged in alphabetical order, with each verse starting with the subsequent letter of the Coptic alphabet. There are 3 Psali tunes for the different seasons (Annual, Kiahk, or Festive) and in each season, there are two unique tunes (Adam or Watos). Adam tunes are to be chanted during Adam days (Sunday – Tuesday), while Watos tunes are chanted during Watos days (Wednesday – Saturday).

The “My Heart and My Tongue” Psali is chanted before the second Canticle (Hos). Its purpose, like most of the praises chanted during Kiahk, is to help the worshipper contemplate the theme of the upcoming hymn or praise. In this instance, the fathers wanted the worshiper to prepare his or her heart and remind him/her that true prayer first must come from the heart.

Let us first contemplate the theme of the second Canticle so that we may better understand the purpose of its preceding Kiahk Psali, “My Heart and My Tongue.”

The Second Canticle

The words of this Canticle are taken from Psalm 135. It is a praise of thanksgiving offered by the church to God for His everlasting Goodness and Mercy. It is offered by the children of Israel, thanking God for releasing them from Egypt, sustaining them in the wilderness, protecting them, and allowing them to enter the Promised Land.

The phrase “Alleluia, His mercy endures forever” repeats 28 times at the end of each verse. Alleluia means “rejoice for God,” and represents the happiness, rejoice and thanksgiving to God, whose mercy endures forever. The repetition (and the Holy Spirit never repeats in vain) denotes that God’s mercy prevailed over all generations: from King David the Prophet and Psalmist, until the coming of Christ. St. Matthew affirms this when he writes: “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.” (Matt. 1.17)

Psalm 135 starts by thanking God, and then presents examples of God’s mercy and support for His children. Elsewhere in the Psalms, King David writes “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Ps. 145:18). Here, he assures that we should pray and offer thanksgiving to God, the Good Lord of lords, always, and that we are not worthy of all His mercies poured upon us. God is kind and good, from the beginning until the end; this should be our prayer and meditation through our whole life. It is the secret of life, where we continuously discover His goodness and kindness, and praise Him with “Alleluia, His mercy endures forever.”

Contemplation on “My Heart and My Tongue”

The full praise, in English, is as follows:

My heart and my tongue:
Praise the trinity:
O holy trinity have mercy on us.

Everyone praises you:
And worships you: O holy …

For you are our God:
And our great savior: O holy…

The master Lord:
He came and saved us: O holy…

For the sake of your true judgements:
Teach me your justice: O holy…

Many are your mercies:
Grant us your salvation: O holy…

My heart and my tongue:
Praise the trinity:
O holy trinity have mercy on us.

I am here before you:
I took refuge in you: O holy…

Yours is the power and glory:
O king of glory: O holy…

Jesus is our hope:
In our tribulations: O holy…

You are blessed o son of God:
Deliver us from temptation: O holy…

All nations praise you:
O Christ the king: O holy…

Grant us your peace:
Heal our sickness: O holy…

My heart and my tongue:
Praise the trinity:
O holy trinity have mercy on us.

You are the compassionate:
And you are the Merciful: O holy…

You are blessed:
We praise and bless you: O holy…

Truly great:
Is the just judge: O holy…

Your name is blessed:
O true logos: O holy…

Guard us O Christ:
With your goodness: O holy…

Hearken unto the sinners:
In their tribulations: O holy…

My heart and my tongue:
Praise the trinity:
O holy trinity have mercy on us.

My soul and my mind:
Lift them up to heaven: O holy…

O Son of our God:
Grant us your salvation: O holy…

God the merciful:
The long suffering: O holy…

Holy, Holy, holy:
O Son of the holy: O holy…

The souls of our fathers:
Give rest unto them: O holy…

O our master remember us:
In your heavenly kingdom: O holy…

My heart and my tongue:
Praise the trinity:
O holy trinity have mercy on us.


The Refrain

This Psali begins by explaining something very important, which is that praise starts with the heart and not the tongue. This phrase repeats multiple times as a refrain of the praise.

This is why the praise begins with “my heart” (“Apahyt” in Coptic), and then “my tongue” (“nem palas”). Our praise is to start from the heart and then go to the tongue.

“Praise the trinity” (“Hos eti etrias”) is the next part of the refrain. When one is engulfed in these spiritual feelings, and truly praises, he or she will see that the heart is not yet completely in praise.

The verse continues with, “O Holy Trinity have mercy on us” (“Agia etrias eleyson eemas”). Here the worshipper seeks God’s mercy, knowing that one should be completely engulfed in praise. However, when one finds his or heart not yet at this level, he or she seeks God’s mercy to remove the things that deter this level of praise.

We find that when an individual focuses on the life of praise which comes from the heart, he or she will start their grow in a spiritual life with God. This Psali provides us with an education in praise, beginning with supplications and developing into spiritual presence with God.

Additional verses

This journey in praise can be seen by contemplating the remaining verses of the Psali:

After chanting the refrain, the worshiper begins to look around him and realizes that the heavenly and earthly are offering a higher deeper praise to God. He realizes that his praise is not completely from the heart so he looks to God and says “everyone praises You and worships.”

Realizing his/her shortcomings, the worshiper begins to contemplate saying “For You are our God and great Savior” because God is the Great and no one is greater. Because He is our savior, all praise is due to Him.

“The Master Lord came and saved us” – during this Advent season, we are engulfed with the coming and incarnation of God to save us, and so we thank and praise Him. Without His coming, our destiny would be eternal death; therefore, it is fitting that we praise Him.

“For the sake of your true commandments, teach me Your justice” – here we remember what happened with Adam and God’s love for us; He who came and carried Adam’s sin onto the Cross to grant us forgiveness from sin.

This is why, in the next verse we chant, “Many are Your mercies.” We see God, who with this mercy, emptied Himself, accepted suffering and, died on the Cross. Truly Your mercies, Lord, are too much. “Grant us Your salvation”

“I took refuge in You” – I am unable to be complete before You, therefore I seek You and take refuge in You. I put myself before You. The original Coptic translation here implies a very fervent desire of the believer quickly rushing to take refuge in God.”

“Yours is the power and glory, O King of glory” – despite being born in a manger among animals, He is the King of glory. Likewise, in Holy Week, we see His suffering on the Cross, but he conquers death as the victorious Lord. Truly you, Lord, emptied yourself, born of a poor girl in a lowly place, yet Yours is the glory. Truly despite your humility, You are the King of Glory.

“Jesus is our hope, in our tribulations”

Praise is higher than normal prayers. Through it we do not seek anything physical or financial, but rather things much deeper. We are more concerned with the spiritual and with thanksgiving and glorification. Therefore, we say, “You are blessed O Son of God, deliver us from temptation,” as the chanter is entrenched between two thoughts – “praise” and “deliverance from temptations.”

“All nations praise You O Christ the King” – anyone praising often contemplates the heavens and the earthly and how they too are praising God.

Then we ask for another spiritual supplication – “Grant us Your peace, heal our sicknesses.” Here, sickness is not only referring to physical illnesses, but also the spiritual ones.

“You are the compassionate, and the Merciful” – no one else can show us mercy like You.

“You are blessed, we praise and bless You” – again we are entrenched between these two thoughts, praise, and spiritual supplications.

“Truly great is the Just judge” – here, we see how God seeks justice for His children, and saves them as he did with the children of Israel. Truly, He is patient, yet also just.

“Your Name is blessed O the True Logos” – perhaps if we were only reliant on ourselves in prayer without the help of the words of the fathers, we might forget to praise God and magnify His name. However, when we use praises and words of the Father, it makes up for our shortcomings. We then use praise and spiritual supplications to account for anything that we might forget.

“Guard us O Christ, with Your Goodness” – we are confident that God is watching over us, yet we ask it again.

The spiritual person asks for himself or herself, and while engulfed and sanctified in prayer, he or she begins to imagine others praising God. Simultaneously, one contemplates those who are deprived from this praise, and longs for everyone to join in praise; therefore, he or she asks “Hearken unto the sinners in their tribulations” – asking God to help everyone with their troubles.

As we start by saying My heart and My tongue, now we say “My soul and my mind” for we want the whole being to praise God. We continue with “Raise them up to heaven” because we yearn to lead a true spiritual life, as a stranger to earth, and long for the true dwelling in heaven.

“O Son of our God, grant us Your salvation” – another spiritual supplication.

“God the merciful, the long suffering” – This is another request for mercy and reaffirms our asking for the same in every verse in the refrain.

“Holy, Holy, Holy, O Son of the Holy” – offering praise and sanctification to God.

“The souls of our fathers, give rest to them O Savior” – This reminds us not to forget those before us. We also ask mercy for those who have reposed.

“O our Master remember us, in Your heavenly kingdom” – We long to return to our true dwelling and ask God to remember us in heaven for when we may return.


“My Heart and My Tongue” is one of the many Psali praises chanted during the 7&4 service. May God grant us to praise with all our hearts, feelings, soul, mind, and tongue.

Sources and where to go to learn more:

1. “The Spirituality of praise according the rites of the Coptic Orthodox Church” by HG Bishop Mettaos, Bishop of Elsorian monastery

2. Praise and contemplation in the Psali of my heart and my tongue by HG Bishop Demetrious