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|This article forms part of the series on the |
|Liturgy of the Preparation|
|Liturgy of the Word|
|Great Litany |
Litany of Fervent Supplication
Litany for the Departed
Litany of the Catechumens
|Liturgy of the Eucharist|
|Cherubic Hymn |
Litany of the Completion
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The Cherubic Hymn is the primary cherubikon, or song of the angels, sung during every Divine Liturgy of the year except those of Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. It occurs after the Gospel reading and is interrupted by the Great Entrance. The Cherubic Hymn was added to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by order of the Emperor Justinian near the end of the sixth century.
The words of the Cherubic Hymn are as follows:
- "We, who mystically represent the Cherubim,
- And chant the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity,
- Let us set aside the cares of life
- That we may receive the King of all,
- Who comes invisibly escorted by the Divine Hosts."
Though the actual text is short, the hymn lasts for quite a while due to its drawn-out, ethereal style. It is our best imitation of and supplement to the singing of the Heavenly Hosts.
In either 573 or 574, Justinian I had the Cherubic Hymn added to the standard liturgy. The previous cherubikon used was that of the Liturgy of St. James, which had then been borrowed into the Liturgy of St. Basil. This hymn, beginning with the phrase "Let all mortal flesh keep silent" is currently only used on Holy Saturday. (The cherubikon used on Holy Thursday begins, "Of thy mystical supper...").
- During the period of the fourth to sixth centuries, the shape of the Eastern Divine Liturgy reached its final form under the guidance of liturgists such as St. John Chrysostom. In this same period the major formative changes occurred, most of which resulted in liturgical components that corresponded to the Church's developing theological understanding. Among them were the hymn "Only-Begotten Son" and the addition of the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed (countering heresies), and "The Trisagion Hymn" reflecting the Trinitarian theology being currently defined. In this period and on through the ninth century, hymns were composed and added to the Divine Liturgy, such as the Cherubic Hymn, sung while the priest recites the prayer that is now called "The Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn. 1
- PSALM Glossary of Liturgical Terms
- liturgica.com Eastern Orthodox Liturgics
- A Dictionary of Orthodox Terminology (see Cherubic Hymn)
- The Historical Development of Holy Week Services (see Holy Thursday and especially footnote 21)
- Cherubic Hymns from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Byzantine notation from the Divine Music Project)