Cherubic Hymn

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This article forms part of the series on the
Divine Liturgy
Liturgy of the Preparation
Liturgical objects
Liturgy of the Word
Great Litany
Little Entrance
Thrice-Holy Hymn
Litany of Fervent Supplication
Litany for the Departed
Litany of the Catechumens
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Cherubic Hymn
Great Entrance
Litany of the Completion
Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed
Lord's Prayer
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The Cherubic Hymn is the primary cherubicon, or song of the angels, sung before 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 Hymn itself

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 the singing of the Heavenly Hosts.


In either 573 or 574, Justinian I had the Cherubic Hymn added to the standard liturgy. The previous cherubicon used was that of the Liturgy of Saint 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 cherubicon used on Holy Thursday begins, "Of thy mystical supper..."). explains the Hymn's addition in this way: "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."


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