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      TALK ON

 THE INTERPRETATION AND

MEANING OF THE DIVINE LITURGY

Part 5      31st May 2007

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Continuing our interpretation of the Divine Liturgy, last week we finished with the second prayer of the faithful which ends with the doxology:
“That being ever guarded by Thy might we may give glory to Thee, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever: world without end.”
The Choir now begin singing the Cherubic Hymn while the Priest prepares for the Great Entrance.
The Cherubic Hymn is sung slowly and solemnly:
“Let us who mystically represent the cherubim and chant the Thriceholy hymn to the life-giving Trinity, now lay aside all earthly care. That we may receive the King of all, invisibly attended by the angelic hosts. Alleluia.”
The Church calls us to prepare to receive the King of glory who is now to enter the holy City. We are asked to prepare to walk with him the road to Golgotha and stand near him by his Cross together with the Mother of God and the Disciple whom he loved. To prepare ourselves we must now lay aside all earthly care and to mystically identify ourselves with the angels in heaven and with them to chant the Thriceholy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity. Let us exit from the world of material things so that we can achieve our entrance in the place where Christ is present. We are impatient to reach the peak of Golgotha to celebrate the feast of Christ, because that is the real feast where can be found the salvation of souls, where can be found peace and harmony. There is the feast without worldly troubles without the running and rushing of our earthly lives, and only complete calmness and love, joy and peace, meekness and many other good things which replace the earthly cares.
Meanwhile the Priest says silently the prayer of the Cherubicon:
“None is worthy among them that are held fast in fleshly desires and pleasures to approach, or to draw nigh, or to minister unto Thee, O King of glory, for to minister unto Thee is a great and fearful thing, even for the heavenly powers themselves. Notwithstanding, through Thine ineffable and immeasurable love for mankind, Thou didst become man suffering no change or altering, and art become our High Priest and hast Thyself bestowed upon us the ministry of this divine office and Bloodless sacrifice as Master of all. For Thou only, O Lord our God, hast dominion over all things in heaven and on earth, who art borne upon a throne of cherubim, who art Lord of the seraphim and king of Israel; who alone art holy and dost rest in the holies. Therefore, I beseech Thee, who alone art good and ready to hear, look down upon me Thy sinful and unprofitable servant, and cleanse my soul and my heart from an evil conscience. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, enable me, who am invested with the grace of priesthood, to stand before this Thy Holy Table, and to administer Thy most pure and sacred Body and Thy precious Blood. For unto Thee I come, to Thee I bow my head, and I beseech Thee: turn not Thy face from me, neither reject me from among Thy servants, but account it meet that these gifts be offered unto Thee by me, Thy sinful and unworthy servant. For Thou art He that offereth and He that is offered, and He who dost receive and art given, O Christ our God, and to Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thine eternal Father, and Thine all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever: world without end. Amen.”
This prayer he says on behalf of himself, recognising and confessing his unworthiness at the greatness of the mystery which he is called to serve. But he proceeds, precisely because he doesn’t rely on his own worthiness or strength, but on the divine mercy. He finds support in the unfathomable depth of God’s compassion and love for mankind. For it was because of his love for mankind that God became man and it was for this same love that he gave us the Mystery of the Bloodless Sacrifice. And not only did Christ come once and offered himself, but he comes continually to every Liturgy and is at the same time He that offers and He that is offered, and He who receives the offering and who is given to the faithful. Christ Himself performs and completes the Mystery of our salvation. This fact is the foundation on which the mystery of the Divine Liturgy is based. Christ is the Priest who offers, He is the Lamb that is offered, He is God who accepts the offering and the gift that is given. Christ is both the nourisher and the nourishment, the feeder and the food.
After the prayer the Priest says the Cherubic Hymn three times and then takes the censer to cense the Holy Altar the Prothesis, the Iconostasis and all the people. During the censing he will say silently the 50th Psalm
(51st in King James). The Psalm is called the penitential Psalm and was written by King David after he committed Adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of his commander Uriah and then committed murder by sending Uriah to the frontline of battle so that he would be killed. The Psalm expresses the very meaning and depth of repentance and humility and so the Priest says this Psalm in recognition of his own sins. The Priest, to hold in his hands the precious gifts, must go through a stage of repentance and everything he now does until the Great Entrance outwardly show his feelings of repentance. With his example he is also showing the faithful the road to repentance, so in a way he represents St. John the Baptist who began preaching before the showing of Christ saying: Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The Priest as the image of the Baptist is exhorting us to prepare the way of the Lord and the way is repentance. Thus as we prepare for the Great Entrance, both people and minister wait in expectation of the Lord in repentance.
As the Priest says the Psalm, he we pause it towards the end to finish it later after the Entrance and the placing of the Holy Gifts upon the Altar. So having finished censing, he will make three prostrations before the Holy Altar saying the penitent verses:
“O Saviour, I have sinned before Thee as the Prodigal Son, accept me, O Father, as a penitent, and have mercy upon me, O God.”
“With the voice of the Publican I cry unto Thee, O Christ Saviour. Be gracious unto me, as Thou wast with him, and have mercy upon me, O God.”
And kissing the antiminsion he will turn and bow humbly to the people asking their forgiveness, but at the same time praying for them saying in a low voice:
“May God forgive them that hate us and them that love us.”
Then going to the Prothesis he will again make three Prostration saying:
“O God, be gracious unto me a sinner, and have mercy upon me.”
And then kissing the Holy Gifts he shall say:
“O Holy God, the Father eternal, Holy and Strong, the Son co-eternal, Holy and Immortal, the all-holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, glory to Thee.”
And the Priest taking the Aer shall first cense it and then lay it on his shoulders saying:
“Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.”
Then censing his hands he shall take up the Paten and the Chalice in his hands saying:
“God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.”
Then preceded by lighted candles and the six-winged fans, the Priest will go out of the sanctuary by the north side holding the Holy Gifts head high walking in slow and solemn procession through the nave of the Church saying in a load voice:
“May the Lord God remember all of you in his kingdom, always, now and for ever: world without end.”
Christ is now coming to be sacrificed. He is accompanied by armies of angels who are invisibly present. The procession signifies the last manifestation of Christ, which aroused the hatred of the Jews, when he embarked from Bethany to Jerusalem where he was to be sacrificed. Then he rode into the Holy City on the back of an ass, escorted by a cheering crowd. The King of kings enters the Holy City. The Minister becomes the ass that no man has sat on and therefore worthy to carry the King of Glory. As the Gifts pass by us we bow down asking like the good thief: Remember me, O Lord, in thy Kingdom. St. Nicholas Cabasilas says that: “During the ceremony we must prostrate ourselves before the Priest and entreat him to remember us in the prayers which he is about to say. For there is no other means of supplication so powerful, so certain of acceptance, as that which takes place through this most holy sacrifice, which has freely cleansed us of our sins and iniquities. If any of those who prostrate themselves thus before the Priest, who is carrying the offerings, adores them as if they were the Body and Blood of Christ, and prays to them as such, he is led into error: he is confusing this ceremony with that of the entry of the Presanctified not recognising the difference between them. In this entry of the offerings, the gifts are not yet consecrated for the sacrifice; in the Liturgy of the Presanctified they are consecrated and sanctified, the true Body and Blood of Christ. Here the Precious Gifts are the antitypes of Christ and the Priest is actually holding in his hands our whole life and the life of all the world. The Precious Gifts are man and the world who through Christ return to God. This return of man to God comes to pass with the Great Entrance.” The Procession of the Great Entrance began with Christ’s journey from Bethany to Jerusalem where he was to be sacrificed. With the Priest entering the Sanctuary, Christ has already been Crucified and taken down from the Cross. The Sanctuary becomes the tomb and the Holy Altar the actual stone where Christ’s Body is to be laid. The Priest shall then set the Paten and the Chalice upon the Altar and remove the veils. Then taking the Aer from his shoulders he shall cense it and cover with it the holy gifts. As he does so, he says the following hymn:
“Down from the tree Joseph, a godly man, took Thy most pure Body, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, and laid and closed it in a new sepulchre.”
Now the Priest represents Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus who took care of Christ’s burial. The Aer which covers the Holy Gifts has two representations, first it represents the linen sheet with which Joseph wound Christ’s Body and secondly it represents the stone which Joseph placed upon the tomb and which was later sealed by the Roman guards.
Then taking the censer the Priest will cense the Holy Gifts saying the remaining lines of the 50th Psalm which he left unsaid earlier as he censed the Church. The censing of the Holy Gifts now on the Holy Altar represents the aroma of the myrrh and sweet spices that Joseph and Nicodemus used for the burial.
The Priest then offers this prayer silently:
“O Lord God Almighty, who alone art holy, who dost accept the sacrifice of praise from such as call upon Thee with their whole heart; accept and receive also unto Thy Holy Altar the supplication of us sinners; and enable us to offer unto Thee both gifts and spiritual sacrifices for our sins and for the errors of the people. And account us worthy to find grace in Thy sight that our sacrifice may be well-pleasing to Thee, and the good Spirit of Thy grace may dwell in us, and in these gifts here set forth, and in all Thy people.”
Here the Priest is asking the Lord to make him worthy to offer the Holy Gifts for his sins and the errors of the people. Special attention should be given to the two words for sin. The Priest calls his own transgressions sins, but the people’s transgressions as errors: in other words sins they have done unwittingly in ignorance. And this is because Priests are more responsible before God than the laity. They have received the grace of priesthood and supposedly lead a spiritual life which should make them more conscious of transgressing the divine will.
After the prayer the Priest says the following petitions:
“Let us complete our supplication unto the Lord.”
“For the precious gifts here set forth, let us pray unto the Lord.”
“For this holy temple and for them that enter therein with faith, reverence and fear of God, let us pray unto the Lord.”
“That He may deliver us from all tribulation, wrath, danger and necessity, let us pray unto the Lord.”
“Succour, save, have mercy and preserve us, O God, by Thy grace.”
“That this whole day may be perfect, holy, peaceful and without sin, let us entreat the Lord.”

The spiritual life is a continuous journey towards perfection. Here we beseech the Lord that we may live this day in that perfection that we desire to have, to grant as to live the whole day and the rest of our lives in holiness, to distance from our live all turmoil and temptation and to grant us peaceful days that we may live without sin.
“For an angel of peace, faithful guide and guardian of our souls and bodies, let us entreat the Lord.”
This petition is based on the teaching and belief that the angels not only glorify God with unceasing hymns, but they also play an active and beneficial role on the life of the faithful on earth. They are spiritual ministers sent to serve the future salvation of man. God assigns to each person an angel as a companion in life, who helps him in his struggles and strengthens him in times of temptation and protects him from dangers that threaten him. St. Basil the Great says: “Close to each of us who believe in the Lord can be found an angel. If we ourselves don’t send him away with our evil ways, the angel will never abandon us. But he will abandon us when we sin, because like the smoke puts to flight the bees and bad odours get rid of the doves, so also the bad odour of our sin distances our guardian angel.”
“For pardon and remission of our sins and transgression, let us entreat the Lord.”
As we approach closer to the time of Communion and closer to God, it is natural that we should feel the weight of ours sins as a barrier that bars us from approaching worthily. We thus beseech for the forgiveness of our sins and even the smaller transgressions which we rarely take notice of in our daily lives
“For things good and profitable to our souls, and peace for the world, let us entreat the Lord.”
What are the things good and profitable to our souls? St. John Chrysostom says that: “You do not know those things which are profitable for you, as they are known to God very well. Many times you ask for harmful and dangerous things, but God who cares more for your salvation doesn’t pay attention to your request, but even before you ask, he takes care for what you need. Thus the faithful should not grieve if they haven’t received from God what they asked for. But believe that God will give them those things which are good and profitable for their salvation.”
“That we may pass the remainder of our lives in peace and repentance, let us entreat the Lord.”
With this petition, the Church is reminding us that our life here on earth will not be forever and that one day it will come to an end. Therefore we pray for whatever time we have left, that the Lord may grant us to live it in peace and repentance. This reminder that our life on earth is short is taken up again with the next petition:
“For a Christian ending to our life, painless, without shame and peaceful, and a good defence before the dread judgement seat of Christ, let us entreat the Lord.”
The petition is in two parts: the first is concerned with the last days of our life on earth and the second with what our defence will be when we find ourselves before the great judge when, with his second coming, he shall come to judge all according to their works. We pray that we end our life in a Christian manner without pain and suffering and without works and actions that disgust and are accompanied with shame. Someone who lives his life within the liturgical life of the Church doesn’t fear to gaze the last moment of his earthly life. Through repentance he has been cleansed and through the Divine Liturgy he already lives in that eternal life. He knows that the period which follows repentance is full of joy and delight. The joy in his heart makes fun of death and overcomes Hades, because this joy has no end. For those who truly repent, death is not the entrance into the darkness of non existence but the door which opens to the Lord’s Bridal chamber and the birth of a new life.
With the completion of the petitions, the Priest blesses the people saying:
“Peace unto all.”
The Priest says this many times during the Liturgy and if we pay attention we will see that he gives this blessing of peace immediately before an important event. He said it before the reading of the Gospel because we needed inner peace to help us understand the spiritual wisdom of the scriptures. When we are at peace we are close to God. God is love and we are called to love one another. Inner peace prepares the road for love.
The Priests says:
“Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess.”
The Priest asks that we have love for each other. During the first centuries all the faithful at this time embraced and exchanged a brotherly kiss. They did what St. Paul exhorted the faithful to do: “Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.”
(1 Corinthians 16:20)
The Priests embraced among themselves and the people exchanged embraces, men with men and women with women. The embrace was a frank and sincere show of love and spiritual unity among the faithful. Love for one another prepared them to confess as one person their faith in the Holy Trinity by reciting together the Symbol of faith which followed. Today only the Priest and Deacons exchange this liturgical embrace saying to each other: Christ is in our midst, he is and ever shall be. They confess that Christ is always between them and because they recognise that Christ is the link of unity between them, before they exchange the embrace they first kiss the Holy Gifts on the holy Altar saying each to himself:

“I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my firm support, and my refuge, and my deliverer.”
The choir at this time also confess on behalf of the faithful their unity of faith by singing:
“The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided.”
Immediately after this the Priest exclaims:
“The doors, the doors. In wisdom let us give heed.”
In older times, this was said earlier after the dismissal of the Catechumens. It was an order to the Deacons and Subdeacons to close the doors so that no one who was not baptized or held heretical views should enter the Church, because it was not permitted for those who were not baptized to hear the divine Mystery of the Eucharist. And if a brother came from another area they would have to have a letter of reference which was carefully examined by the Deacons in case he was polluted with heresy. Nowadays we ignore this command and give it a spiritual understanding. We are told to close the doors of our minds to all external and earthly things and to open them to the wisdom that is to follow with the reciting of the Symbol of Faith. To open all the doors – that is our mouth and our ears, not inattentively, but eagerly devoting all our minds to it.
The Symbol of Faith (The Creed) was formulated by the First Ecumenical Council held at Nicaea in 325, and was given its definite and final form by the Second Council held at Constantinople in 381, which is used by all the Orthodox Churches up to this day. St. Basil writes concerning the Symbol of faith that: We neither except any newer confession of faith, which others composed, nor dare go give the faithful products of our own minds, so that we don’t transform the words of godliness and piety to human words. But to those who ask us of our faith, we preach those things we have been taught by the Holy Fathers. The Creed is made up of 12 articles, which in short contain the basic dogmas of the Orthodox faith.
“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”
With the first we proclaim our faith in one God, the Father Almighty, the first Person of the Holy Trinity, the creator of heaven and earth and all creation visible and invisible.
The next six make mention of the Second Person of the Trinity. With these we proclaim our faith that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of God who was begotten of the Father from all eternity. But we emphasize that He was begotten and not created like all the other things that were created. He was born of light from the Father who also is light and is truly God as the Father is truly God. We confess also that for our salvation He came down from heaven to earth and took upon Himself flesh in a way unknown and mysterious to us, from the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary and became a man. And also that He was crucified for us during the rule of the Roman governor of Palestine, Pontius Pilate. We acknowledge that He suffered and was buried and that on the third day He rose from the dead, all of which was prophesised in the Old Testament. After His Resurrection He ascended to heaven and sat on the right hand of the Father and shall come again at the end of time, but His second coming will this time be in glory and He shall come to judge everyman living and all those who have fallen asleep. And after this He shall rule in a kingdom that will have no end and will be for all eternity.
The eighth article makes mention of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. With this we confess our faith that the Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of life, He is God and equal to the Father and the Son. That He proceeds only from the Father and is worshipped and glorified together with the Father and the Son and that He spoke through the Prophets.
With the ninth article we proclaim that we believe in One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
With the next article each of us confesses our belief in only one Baptism through which is granted remission of sins. And lastly, that we each confess our expectation and sure hope in the Resurrection from the dead and in the eternal and happy life in the new world that will continue to exist after the end of this world.
The Symbol of Faith is not merely a confession of faith by the faithful. It is also our spiritual rebaptism in the mystical font of the truths of our faith and the means by which we renew our ties with the Holy Tradition of our ancient Church. Also, the faithful remember more vividly and with gratitude everything the Holy Trinity has done so that we, being poor and sinful men, may secure an existence and salvation from the bonds of sin, that we may have a spiritual life and the gifts of grace, our future resurrection and freedom from the power of death and finally our eternal reinstatement in the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus with the Symbol of Faith, we express our appropriate thanksgiving to God for the unforeseen and inaccessible to human logic ways of our salvation. With this we can proceed with the completion of the Holy Offering.

During the reciting of the Creed, the Priest takes up the Aer and, holding it over the Sacred Gifts, calmly shakes it up and down. At the words of the Creed “And the third day He rose again according to the scriptures, and ascended into heaven” the Priest lifts the aer from the holy gifts, folds it and kisses it and lays it aside with the other veils. What does all this mean? We mentioned that when the Priest covered the gifts with the Aer it represented the stone which Joseph placed upon the tomb and which was later sealed by the Roman guards. The shaking now represents the earthquake mentioned in the Gospel when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb very early on that Sunday morning of the Resurrection: “And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door.” (Matt. 28: 2) The lifting of the Aer at the words “And the third day He rose again according to the scriptures” represents the stone being rolled away to reveal that Christ Resurrected from the dead.
The Priest continues:
“Let us stand upright, let us stand with fear: let us take heed to present the holy offering in peace.”
From this moment begins what is called the Holy Anaphora which literally means the Holy Rising. It refers to the rising of the faithful and their offering to heaven. One can say that it is the centre of the whole Liturgy because during the Anaphora the Holy Gifts are consecrated and are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. We are therefore told to stand upright, in fear and godliness and pay attention to present our offering to God in peace. St. John Chrysostom says: Try to understand whom you are standing near to. With whom you are about to beseech God: with the angels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim. On one ought to take part in these divine and mystical hymns with a slackened eagerness. But after distancing all the earthly thoughts from his mind and transporting himself completely to heaven, as though he is standing near to the throne of glory and flying with the seraphim, then to offer the holy hymn to the God of glory. That is why we are told to stand with attention at this time, in other words to stand in awe and fear with a vigilant and watchful soul. The Holy Gifts are not offered simply upon the earthy Altar, but are raise to the heavenly Altar. They are raised by the Priest who calls us all to rise to that place of unshakable peace. The transportation and entrance to this place must be done in peace. There is need of great peace and the utmost silence at this time and place. During the time the Gifts are raised to the Heavenly Altar, angelic powers stand present in fear and dread. They reverently cover their faces singing to the Holy Trinity.
In response to the Priest’s exhortation to offer the Anaphora in peace, the faithful reply:
“The mercy of peace, the sacrifice of praise.”
In other words, the faithful reply: “Not only do we make our offering in peace; it is peace itself which we offer as a gift and a second sacrifice. For we offer mercy to Him who said: “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.”
(Matt. 9:15) Mercy or love is the fruit of peace. For when the soul is untroubled by passion, there is nothing to hinder it from being filled with mercy and love. Sacrifice offered with love is a sacrifice pleasing to God. This is the sacrifice that God seeks, for as it says in the Psalms: “Offer unto God the sacrifice of praise.” (Psalm 49). This is the kind of sacrifice that God desires much more than thousands of sacrifices of animals and offering of gifts. For the Psalmist says in another psalm: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 50)
So having made this reply, The Priest wishes them the greatest and most divine of all goods:
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”
And the faithful return his blessing saying:
“And with thy spirit,” in accordance with the command that we should pray for one another. This prayer is taken from the Epistles of St. Paul. It secures for us the benefits of the Holy Trinity – every perfect gift,
(James 1:17) and it asks from each of the Divine Persons his special gift: from the Son grace, from the Father love from the Spirit fellowship (communion). For the Son gave Himself as Saviour to us. Christ died for us: His care for us is in the truest sense a grace. The Father, through the suffering of his Son was reconciled to mankind, and showered His love upon his enemies, so that His goodness to us is given the name of love. And finally the Holy Spirit, being rich in mercy, wished to give to His enemies, who had now become his friends, the best of himself and this He did when He descended upon the Apostle as tongues of fire at Pentecost.. This is why His goodness is called communion. But if all these benefits were given to us through the coming of the Saviour, what need is there to pray for that which we already have? The answer is clear: we pray that we may not lose that which we have received, but may keep it forever. So the Priest does not say: “May these be given to you all”, but, “May these be with you all.” Let not the grace which has been given to you be taken away.
The Priest now gives a new command to the faithful saying:
“Let us lift up our hearts.”
In other words let us be heavenly minded, let us raise our hearts and our thoughts upwards to that heavenly Altar. Let us not be concerned with anything earthly for very shortly we will have before us the awesome Mystery of the Bloodless Sacrifice. The faithful reply:

We lift them up unto the Lord.”

With this reply the faithful confirm that they have already raised them on high, towards the throne of God. Our hearts are where our treasure is – there where Christ is, who sits on the right hand of the Father. The faithful are now ready to proceed towards the Divine Thanksgiving. So the Priest now tells them:
“Let us give thanks unto the Lord.”
St. John Chrysostom says that the best way for us to guard the gifts of God is to remember them and continually to give thanks to God for them. That is why the Divine Mysteries which are celebrated at every gathering of the faithful and by which are offered salvation are called Ευχαριστία (Eucharist), because they comprise a remembrance of many benefits and reveal the pinnacle of the Divine Providence. For this reason therefore the Priest commands us at this time of the sacrifice to give thanks to God for the whole world, for all things we have received in the past and for all things we are to receive in the future. To this the faithful reply:
“It is meet and right.”
St. Nicholas Cabasilas says that this reply by the faithful means that they agree to the celebration of the divine Eucharist. St. John Chrysostom says that it shows the unity of the Body of Christ and the unity of the minister and the faithful before the Divine Gifts. The thanksgiving is common, because the Priest doesn’t offer thanksgiving by himself, but together with all the people. So all being in agreement that thanksgiving must be given in a worthy and righteous way, the Priest offers this prayer of thanksgiving:
“It is meet and right to hymn Thee, to bless Thee, to praise Thee, to give thanks unto Thee, to worship Thee in all places of Thy dominion. For Thou art God ineffable, unknowable, invisible, incomprehensible, Thou art eternal, Thou art unchanging, Thou, and Thine Only-begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit. Thou didst bring us from non-being into being; and didst raise us up that were fallen away; and left naught undone till Thou hadst lifted us to heaven, and hadst bestowed upon us Thy kingdom to come. For all these things we give thanks unto Thee, and Thine Only-begotten Son, and unto Thy Holy Spirit: for all whereof we know and whereof we know not; for benefits both manifest and hid which Thou hast wrought upon us. We give thanks unto Thee also for this ministry which Thou dost deign to receive at our hands, even though thousands of archangels, and tens of thousands of angels wait upon Thee, the many-eyed cherubim and the six-winged seraphim that sour aloft
Singing the triumphal hymn, exclaiming, crying aloud and saying:
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Sabaoth: heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”
By taking earth, God created man and breathed into him life. From non existence He gave man existence and placed him closed to Himself. And when man fell, He sent His only-begotten Son to save us, and left nothing undone, in other words He did everything that was required to guarantee our return to heaven to be close to Him again. For this it is meet and right to offer hymns to Him, to bless Him, to praise Him, to give thanks and worship Him, and not only for this, but also for all the things we know and all the things we don’t know, for all the benefits He has wrought and given us, all those things that have been revealed to us and all those things that He has done for us but remain hidden from us. We thank him for this very Liturgy which He accepts from our hands for He could have ordained for the pure and undefiled angels to minister the Divine Eucharist, but He ordained that men should accomplish this work and He accepts the holy offering from our unclean hands. Remembering therefore that the angels also minister before the throne of God we are called to join our voices together with theirs and offer the angelic hymn, which we call here the triumphal hymn, with once voice to God. St John Chrysostom says: “In heaven, the angelic hosts glorify God, while at the same time men join with them in a common choir and mimic and chant the same glory to God. From above the Seraphim sing the Thriceholy hymn, from below the same hymn is sang by the multitudes of men. A common festival is taking place, a common thanksgiving to God. It is the revelation of the unity of the heavenly and earthly worlds.”

The hymn is taken from two sources: from the angelic hymn which was heard by the Prophet Isaiah and from the hymn offered by the people when Christ entered Jerusalem for the passion. By singing this hymn we mimic the angels and also the people of the holy City. But the hymn is not only a hymn of Glory, it has a double meaning: because it is also a prophecy for the good things that will be given to the world. It says in the hymn: the earth is full of thy glory. When was the earth full of God’s glory? It refers to the second coming of Christ. That is why it is now called the Triumphal hymn and not the angelic hymn or the Thriceholy hymn. It proclaims the Triumphal coming of the Son of Man who’s Cross shall go before him, the sign of His victory. Then we shall all sing: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.