Agbeya Psalms & Prayers (1)

02-03-2012 02:07 PM

By Pope Shenouda III

The “Trisagion” Hymn is derived from the Praise Song of the Seraphim which Isaiah the Prophet heard and passed on to us.

   The “Trisagion” Hymn is derived from the Praise Song of the Seraphim which Isaiah the Prophet heard and passed on to us.
   He said, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ##Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!##” (Isa 6: 1- 3)
   The other song of the three holies is derived from the song of Nicodemus, which he chanted while preparing the body of the Lord Christ – glory to Him – for burial. When he was holding the Lord##s hand he wondered how he could put that hand which created heaven and earth in covers! Immediately he saw the Lord smiling to him, so he said, ##Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal!## The church added to this praise song and used it among the church prayers.
   God is Holy:
   While praying this hymn we remember the words of the Scripture on God##s holiness and similar prayers. St. John the Visionary describes in the Revelation how he was in the Spirit and saw the Lord sitting on a throne in heaven, and how the four living creatures with six wings each and full of eyes around and within, were chanting day and night with no rest, saying, “##Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!## (Rev 4: 1- 8) He describes further another great and marvelous sign in heaven: seven angels, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God, and singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy.” (Rev 15: 1- 4)
   Yes, indeed, God is holy, He alone is holy, for, “They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Ps 14: 3)
   The Holy Virgin Mary in her praise song mentions this divine attribute of holiness: “For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” (Lk 1: 49) Hannah the mother of Prophet Samuel likewise says in her praise song, “No one is holy like the Lord.” (1 Sam 2: 2) 
   We also remember God##s holiness when we pray Psalms (99: 9, 3; 111: 9): “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.” “Let them praise Your great and awesome name.” “Holy and awesome is His name.” We read the same in the Revelation, “These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ##He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens##” (Rev 3: 7)
   Also see how beautiful are the praises we chant on Good Friday with the tune of “Agios/Holy”! 
      It is a long tune, by which we chant the Lord##s holiness at the time of His crucifixion between two thieves for false accusations. Amidst all of His accusers we say to Him: ##We know, O Lord, who You are: “Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Your holy glory.” You are Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal!
   Your holiness is unquestionable even at the time of Your crucifixion … the two thieves crucified with You were crucified for their own sins, but You, the Righteous and Blameless, who alone are Holy, “Separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens.” (Heb 7: 26) You were crucified for our sins, therefore we praise You and chant, “Holy, Holy, Holy”.
   In the Prayer for the Departed we chant the same hymn “Agios/Holy”.
   It is as if we say to Him while seeing the departed for the last time, ##Remember, O Lord, that You alone are holy, whereas none of mankind is without sin even if living for one single day, therefore forgive them, for they have put on flesh and dwelt in this world. You know our frame, remember that we are dust (Ps 103: 14).##
   We chant the same hymn likewise in the Prayer for ordaining a new monk.
   We pray over the person to be ordained monk the Prayer for the Departed. This is to make the person aware of the holy life he is starting, having died to the world and is coming into communion with God through prayers and meditation in a life of continual praising, similar to that of the Seraphim who praise God continually, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” (Isa 6: 3)
   With the three holies Praise Song we remember the “Preparation Prayer” said by the priest before the Divine Liturgy.
   The father priest says, “You, O Lord, who knows the heart of everybody, the Holy who rests in His holy people, who alone are sinless and forgiving sins … You know, O Lord, that I am not deserving or prepared to this Your holy ministry, and have no boldness to approach and open my mouth before Your holy glory …”
   We praise Him as “Holy”, and we remember that everything belonging to Him is holy:
   God##s name is holy. We say in (Ps 103: 1) “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” He requires us not to profane His holy name (Lev 22: 2). We say to Him daily, “Hallowed be Your name.” (Mt 6: 9)
   God##s Spirit is holy. He is “the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28: 19). St. Paul the Apostle commands us, saying, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph 4: 30) We also say with the Psalmist, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Ps 51: 11)
   The place where God appears is holy, therefore God said to Moses on appearing to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” (Ex 3: 5) (Jos 5: 15)
   God##s house is likewise holy: “Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever.” (Ps 93: 5) The Scripture also says, “For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp … therefore your camp shall be holy.” (Deut 23: 14) God##s temple is holy: “The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven.” Naturally therefore heaven is holy, as the Psalmist says, “He will answer him from His holy heaven.” (Ps 20: 6) And if we say that our hearts are His holy temple, they also are holy as the apostle says, “For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (Cor 3: 17)
   In the first house constructed for God there was the sanctuary and the Tabernacle, the Holiest of All.
   St. Paul the Apostle spoke about both in (Heb 9: 2, 3). God##s mountain is likewise holy, for the Lord speaks about His holy hill in (Ps 2: 6) And the Psalmist says, “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness …” (Ps 15: 1, 2) We also chant the words of (Ps 87: 1): “His foundation is in the holy mountains.” (Ps 87: 1)
   God##s Scripture is holy, and likewise His commandments and law. St. Paul says to his disciple Timothy, “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation.” (2 Tim 3: 15) He also says, “… the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” (Rom 1: 1, 2) “The law is holy, and the commandment holy.” (Rom 7: 12)
   Priesthood is holy, and likewise offerings.                                                The apostle says, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.” (1 Pet 2: 5)
   The Sacraments accomplished by the priests are Holy Sacraments.
   Likewise the ointment by which the priests, the tent of meeting, the holy vessels were anointed is called holy ointment. The Lord commanded Moses to make it, “You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy.” “This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations … It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.” (Ex 30: 29- 32)
   Even the priestly vestments were holy as the Scripture says, “The holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons## after him, to be anointed in them and to be consecrated.” (Ex 29: 29) Until now we consecrate the garments of the priests before they put them on. 
   Aaron himself was holy to the Lord, and the Lord commanded Moses concerning Aaron##s turban, “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet: ##Holiness to the Lord## and you shall put it on a blue cord, that it may be on the turban.” (Ex 28: 36, 37) And concerning the vestments of Aaron the Lord said, “You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron##s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest.” (Ex 28: 2, 3)
   The offerings given to God were likewise holy offerings. The Scripture describes the sin offering as “most holy” (Lev. 6: 29), and likewise the trespass offering and the peace offering, all were “most holy” (Lev7: 7- 17). We even are required to offer our bodies as a holy sacrifice to the Lord, as the apostle says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren … that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy …” (Rom 12: 1)
   The fast we offer to God is a holy fast, as the prophet says, “Consecrate a fast; call a sacred assembly.” (Joel 1: 14; 2: 15) God##s people also are holy (Deut 27: 9), a holy nation (Ex 19: 6), and Jerusalem is the holy city (Mt 4: 5)  
WATANI International
4 March 2012
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