An Excerpt From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

[Today Roman Catholics and many other Christians celebrate the Feast of St. John Chrysostom.  The Orthodox Churches remember and honor him on January 27.   He was known for his preaching (Chrysostom means golden-tongued).  Many of his homilies and writings survive to this day including some which are regrettably anti-semetic.

He was also a liturgist who revised and rewrote the Divine Liturgy –the celebration of the Eucharist. This Liturgy is celebrated to this day although what parts St John influenced is unknown.  Most Roman Catholics and Protestant Christians have little or no exposure to the Orthodox Church whose roots are found in the very beginning of the Church.

What follows is the Trisagion Hymn at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy. It is a beautiful hymn praising God and acknowledging our sinfulness.  Make this part of your prayer today. The excerpt is followed by a brief sung version.]

The Trisagion Hymn

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.
People:  Lord, have mercy.
Priest (in a low voice):

Holy God, You dwell among Your saints.
You are praised by the Seraphim with the thrice holy hymn
and glorified by the Cherubim and worshiped by all the heavenly powers.
You have brought all things out of nothing into being.
You have created man and woman in Your image and likeness
and adorned them with all the gifts of Your grace.
You give wisdom and understanding to the supplicant
and do not overlook the sinner
but have established repentance as the way of salvation.
You have enabled us, Your lowly and unworthy servants,
to stand at this hour before the glory of Your holy altar
and to offer to You due worship and praise.

Master, accept the thrice holy hymn
also from the lips of us sinners and visit us in Your goodness.
Forgive our voluntary and involuntary transgressions,
sanctify our souls and bodies, and grant that
we may worship and serve You in holiness all the days of our lives,
by the intercessions of the holy Theotokos and of
all the saints who have pleased You throughout the ages.

Priest:    For You are holy, our God, and to You we give glory,
to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever…
Deacon:   …and to the ages of ages.
People:    Amen.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
now and forever and to the ages of ages.  Amen.
Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Deacon:   Again, fervently.

Priest     (turning towards the Prothesis, the priest says in a low voice:):
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

(Then turning towards the holy Table, he says:)

Blessed are You on the throne of glory of Your kingdom,
seated upon the Cherubim, now & forever & to the ages of ages.  Amen.

People:    Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.



About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
This entry was posted in Liturgy, Prayer, Quotations, Songs and Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to An Excerpt From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

  1. Matt Smith says:

    Here’s a Carpatho-Rus melody. The recording is not great, but you can hear the relative simplicity of it, and its relation to western melodies:

    I don’t know that I would characterize St. John as anti-Semitic so much as anti-Jewish. That might seem like semantics (as opposed to Semitics), but the context in which he wrote is important. Christians (who were presumably of Jewish descent) had begun to frequent synagogues, attend Jewish festivals, and listen to Jewish exposition on the scriptures. In addition, there were even a number of Christians who were observing the Jewish laws themselves (ritual circumcision, Jewish fasts and feasts, and so on) and demanding a return to observance by the rest of Christendom.

    Your namesake challenged the pope over the same issue, and Ignatius wrote about it around the close of the first century. The Council of Laodicea excommunicated Judaizers (specifically those who demanded rest on Saturday). The problem was huge by the time John was bishop, and he addressed it using language that we would never use today, but I don’t think that his rhetoric qualifies as anti-Semitic. The rhetorical form used at the time (psogos) worked by vilifying opponents. You see the same thing in the writings of the desert fathers, who refer to demons and evil men as “Ethiopians” despite the fact that many of them were, themselves, Ethiopians.

    The matter wasn’t one of race as we think of it today, but one of choice of association. Those in the desert who chose to associate with unclean spirits and demons were Ethiopians, regardless of their skin color or national origin. Those who chose to keep Jewish fasts, go to Jewish synagogues, and celebrate Jewish festivals were Jewish- regardless of the blood of their mothers. Were St. John actually anti-Semitic, his writings would make no distinction between practicing religious Jews and “genetic” Jews who had converted to Christianity and given up unnecessary (and in the view of the Church fathers, even anti-salvific) Jewish practices.

    Psogos has died out as a rhetorical form among “civilized” people, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s not the most helpful way to approach something. So too have Christian prohibitions concerning certain practices of other faiths, depending on the meaning ascribed to those practices by the Christian in question. But I don’t think we can analyze St. John’s (or even St. Matthew’s) approach in these homilies (or his gospel) without considering the period he lived in, the problems he dealt with, and the customary rhetorical form used to deal with public problems.

    I think there’s a big difference between anti-Judaic and anti-Judaizer on one hand (which I believe you can actually attribute to St. John and St. Matthew) and anti-Semitic on the other, which I don’t think applies at all. For St. John, becoming a Christian meant becoming a Christian.- there was no remnant of Judaism left in the person, except in the fact that Christianity was the perfection or completion of Judaism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s