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Cherubic Hymn: Liturgical Music Symposium, Oct. 2022

The Dissident Mama Podcast

Release Date: 10/24/2022

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This hymn was recorded October 22, 2022, during the 3-day symposium at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Church in Blountville, Tennessee. The choir was comprised of Orthodox singers from Tennessee, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Missouri, Alabama, and a few even beyond those Southern climes. Choir director: Peter Fekula.

The Cherubic Hymn is the primary cherubikon (Gr: χερουβικόν), or song of the angels, sung during every Divine Liturgy of the year with the exception of the liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts and those of Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. It occurs after the Gospel reading and is interrupted by the Great Entrance. The Cherubic Hymn was added to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom by order of the Emperor Justinian near the end of the sixth century.

The words of the Cherubic Hymn are as follows:
"We, who mystically represent the Cherubim,
And chant the thrice-holy hymn to the Life-giving Trinity,
Let us set aside the cares of life
That we may receive the King of all,
Who comes invisibly escorted by the Divine Hosts."

Though the actual text is short, the hymn lasts for quite a while due to its drawn-out, ethereal style. It is our best imitation of and supplement to the singing of the Heavenly Hosts.

In either 573 or 574, Justinian I had the Cherubic Hymn added to the standard liturgy. The previous cherubikon used was that of the Liturgy of St. James, which had then been borrowed into the Liturgy of St. Basil. This hymn, beginning with the phrase "Let all mortal flesh keep silent" is currently only used on Holy Saturday. (The cherubikon used on Holy Thursday begins, "Of thy mystical supper...").

During the period of the fourth to sixth centuries, the shape of the Eastern Divine Liturgy reached its final form under the guidance of liturgists such as St. John Chrysostom. In this same period the major formative changes occurred, most of which resulted in liturgical components that corresponded to the Church's developing theological understanding. Among them were the hymn "Only-Begotten Son" and the addition of the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed (countering heresies), and "The Trisagion Hymn" reflecting the Trinitarian theology being currently defined. In this period and on through the ninth century, hymns were composed and added to the Divine Liturgy, such as the Cherubic Hymn, sung while the priest recites the prayer that is now called "The Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn.”

Source: OrthodoxWiki