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Prayer of the Three Holy Children

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The Prayer of the [[Three Holy Children]] is a component of the biblical [[Daniel|Book of Daniel]]. It is a segment of a larger component called ''The Prayer of [[Azariah]] and the Prayer of the [[Three Holy Children]]'' which. although part of the [[Septuagint]] text, is considered by Protestants as part of the [[Apocrypha]] rather than a fully canonical part of Scripture, and so appears in most English-language bibles as a seperate section. If included within the larger text of Daniel, it would appear in the third chapter of between verses 23 and 24.
In Orthodox Christian worship, the prayer is the basis of the seventh and eighth biblical [[canticles]] sung at [[Orthros]]. Although the text of the canticles are generally not read in contemporary practice, the hymns sung as part of the [[canon]] reference the theme of the Three Holy Children. At [[Vespers]] of [[Holy Saturday]], the text of the prayer is heard as part of one of the fifteen Old Testament readings prescribed for that day. In Byzantine practice, the closing refrains to each verse "bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever" are chanted elaborately.
The song constitutes a hymn of thanksgiving to God for deliverence from the fiery furnace into which the three young men, Ananias, Azarias and Misael (also known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) has had been cast by the Persian king Nebuchadnezzar. They were cast into the furnace for refusing to worship a golden idol that Nebuchadnezzar had created. However, an Angel of the Lord entered the furnace and protected the three young men. In liturgical practice, the event is seen to presage the [[Resurrection]] of Christ, thus its inclusion in the canon.
The ''Abingdon Bible Handbook'' (ISBN 0687001692) suggests that the Prayer was based on an earlier composition and was added to the existing text of Daniel sometime in the second or first century B.C.

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