When Christ, in the form of the Gospel, is placed on the Holy Table after the Small Entrance, the atmosphere of the Divine Liturgy becomes festive. While recalling the great work of salvation which was acheived with the coming of God the Word, Jesus Christ, as well as the preaching of the Gospel, we chant the hymns of the day with joyful enthusiasm. If it is Sunday, the hymns refer to the Resurrection of Christ, and on other days, we chant the established hymns for that particular time. The Troparia of the Saint that is celebrated that day, as well for the patron Saint of the church building are also chanted. Lastly, the Kontakion as provided by the Typikon. All these sacred hymns (which are sung at the Entrance with the Holy Gospel) are hymns of thanksgiving and praise for the blessings that the Holy Gospel brings. It is easy to understand why this is important, when we remember that the teachings of the Holy Gospel has filled the world with Saints. These are people like us, who have applied the teachings of the Gospel in their lives, and by the Grace of the Lord have become Saints and intercessors for us. The revelation of these Saints, true heroes who lived by the Gospel, are surrounded by glory and honor in this life, and in eternity.

The Church offers praise for the endless gifts of grace that came upon the world with the coming of the God-man, and honors the struggles of the Saints. What is not forgotten, not even for a moment, is the One who is the source of Holiness and Sanctity. That is why the Church turns the mind and heart of the praying people to the "Most Holy Word", Christ, whose life-giving word is revealed to us in the readings of the Epistle, Gospel, and in the Sermon. "Let us pray to the Lord" exclaims the Deacon from the Royal Doors, and the priest follows: "For You, our God, are holy, and to You we offer up glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever,” and the Deacon (facing the people) continues ”And to the ages of ages”. With this, believers are urged to remember the Lord at that moment and to ask Him to make more saints, because it is His will: "it is God’s will that you should be sanctified" (1 Thessalonians 4: 3). The congregation is also encouraged to imitate the holy Angels in chanting angelic hymns to His Divine Majesty. After the chanters confirm with an "Amen" the praise to the Triune God: "For You, our God, are holy, and to You we offer up glory...", the people begin the well-known Trisagion Hymn: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us". According to the historian Theophanes, this hymn was sung by the people of Constantinople at the direction of an angel in a procession, in order to quell an earthquake during the reign of Patriarch Proclus (438 AD). The earthquake ceased, and since then the Trisagion Hymn has been established to be read or chanted every day in all the Divine Services. Its content is related to the hymn heard by the prophet Isaiah, when beholding the Seraphim chanting before the heavenly throne of God ”Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6: 1-3). The additional expressions: "mighty", "immortal" and "have mercy on us" are often used in the Bible in relation to God.

At this point we should explain why the words of the Trisagion Hymn are repeated three times each time it is chanted. This is done because the attributes of God (Holy, Mighty, and Immortal) apply to each person of the Holy Trinity, as well as all three together as an equal, consubstantial, and indivisible Holy Trinity. This is why when we say the Trisagion Hymn, we ought to understand in our hearts and minds that we are addressing God the Father, Who is Holy, Mighty and Immortal. When we repeat the hymn a second time, we turn to God the Son, Who also like the Father is Holy, Mighty and Immortal. The third time we address the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, Who is also, like the Father and the Son, Holy, Mighty and Immortal. You will have noticed that the hymn of the Trisagion - when it is chanted - does not end with its triple repetition. The short doxology is added: "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit ..." and the Trisagion Hymn is now addressed to the Triune God, the consubstantial and indivisible One God. In this way the early Church, which faced many Christological heresies (Arianism, Nestorianism, etc.) tried to strengthen its members in the Orthodox faith. The Trisagion Hymn ends with a "Lord have mercy!".

Brothers and sisters, let us join together in chanting the Trisagion Hymn, with joy as well as with a broken heart, addressing the glorious Throne of our Lord. May He receive us with our consciences clear, in order to join His Angels in this harmonious and heavenly chanting. While the Trisagion Hymn is sung, the priest, full of gratitude, offers prayers to God to accept this hymn; to visit with His grace the presiding priest and the praying people; to forgive them and to claim them for Himself; and that they may worship the Divine Majesty with purity and reverence, all the days of their lives.

- While ending our interpretive comments on the Trisagion Hymn, I would like to note that during those major feasts when collective Baptisms are performed before the Divine Liturgy, instead of the Trisagion Hymn, the "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27) is chanted. Additionally, on the feasts of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, the following is sung instead: "We venerate Your Cross, O Christ...".


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