10.20.2008

A Thought About the Cherubic Hymn

Let Us Now Who Mystically Represent The Cherubim
And Who Sing the Thrice-Holy Hymn to the Life-Giving Trinity
Now lay aside all Earthly cares
that we may receive the King of all
who comes invisibly upborne by the Angelic Host
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.


I tell unto you a mystery

As we chant these words

"Holy, Holy, Holy, art thou

O Triune God

and Source and Ground of Life,"

We find that we are become

icons of the Cherubim,

subtly and unspeakably!



Therefore, let us forget

every anxiety, even that all

which we have in this world,

so that we may accept

He who comes unto us;

the King and Lord of all things,

who is uplifted upon

the very hosts of heaven;

invisibly and uncontainably!


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!



The Cherubic Hymn is strange, since first of all it is self-referential. I'm not sure how common this is among the hymns of the Church, but from my lyrical memory it stands unique. It is as though the song calls out to itself the way the angels do in Isaiah's vision of the temple.



Another (and I could list many) is that the words establish a relationship of being between the heavenly host and the singers of the hymn. It isn't calling us to be like the Cherubim, it does not say anything particularly devotional (other than the three alleluias at the end,) nor does it recall the deeds of God to his people.



Instead, it is a piece of mystic poetry set to music, it tickles the intellect and stuns it in awe so that we may indeed "set aside all Earthly cares." (Or care, depending on your setting.)

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