Adoring the Ineffable

Before the scripture is read, a copy of the gospels is carried to the congregation and back to the altar (symbolizing the entrance of the Logos, Christ, into the world), and the priest prays:

O Lord and Master, our God, who in heaven has established the orders and armies of angels and archangels to minister to your majesty, grant that the holy angels may make the entrance with us and with us serve and glorify your goodness. For to you belongs all glory, honor, and worship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.

As the liturgy moves to Holy Communion, the priest prays:

It is fitting and right to sing of you, to praise you, to thank you, to adore you in all places of your dominion. For you are the ineffable God, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, existing forever and yet ever the same, you and your only-begotten Son and your Holy Spirit. You brought us into being out of nothingness, and when we had fallen, you raised us up again. You have not ceased doing everything to lead us to heaven and to bestow upon us your future kingdom. For all this do we thank you and your only-begotten Son and your Holy Spirit—for all the benefits of which we know and those of which we are ignorant, for those that are manifest to us and those that lie concealed.

We thank you also for this sacrifice, which you are pleased to receive from our hands, even though there stand before you thousands of archangels and myriads of angels, Cherubim and Seraphim, six-winged and many-eyed, borne aloft on their wings who sing, proclaim, cry out, and chant the triumphal hymn:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Hosts! Heaven and earth are filled with your glory. Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

By John Chrysostom

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #44 in 1994]

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