The Thrice Holy Hymn - Trisagion
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us. (3 times)
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Both now and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages. Amen.
Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us.
With the singing of this hymn the congregation and the hosts of angels are united in praise of our Triune God.The angels are chanting at the heavenly Altar and we here on earth are chanting at the Church Temple altar.
According to the Prophet Isaiah, this hymn is sung by the angels : "I saw the Lord setting on a throne...Above it stood seraphim...And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts[sabaoth]; the while earth is full of His glory!" (Isaiah 6:1-5)
Join in and sing while making the sign of the Cross.
While this hymn is being chanted the priest reads the following beautiful prayer.
O Holy God, Who restest among Thy Saints and art glorified by the Cherubim and praised by the Seraphim with Thrice-holy Voice, and worshipped by all the Host of Heaven; Thou Who hast brought all things out of nothingness into being; Thou Who hast created man in Thine Image and Likeness, and hast adorned him with all Thy favors; Thou Who givest to the suppliant wisdom and prudence and dost not neglect the sinner, but hast set forth the way of repentance unto salvation; Thou Who has accounted us, Thy humble and unworthy servants, worthy to stand at this time before the glory of Thy Holy Altar and to bring to Thee meet adoration and praise; do Thou, Master, accept, even from the mouth of us sinners, the Thrice-holy Hymn and visit us in Thy Righteousness; forgive us all our transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, sanctify our souls and bodies and grant that we may worship Thee in holiness all the days of our life; through the intercessions of Thy Holy Mother and all the Saints, who from the beginning of time have pleased Thee; for Thou, our God, art Holy and to Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, now and for ever and from all Ages to all Ages. Amen."
In 433A.D. when Saint Proclus was Patriarch of Constantinople the city was evacuated due to a series of earthquakes. The citizens established campsites in the outskirts of town and were constantly praying for God to bring an end to this tribulation. As soon as the earth would start shaking they would pray with the words, "Lord Have Mercy." During one prayer service, a boy from the crowd was snatched up into the air by an unseen force and carried up to such a height that he was no longer to be seen by human eyes. Then, whole and unharmed, the child was lowered to the ground and he reported that he heard and he saw the angels glorifying God singing: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal." All the people began to sing this Trisagion Prayer, adding to it the refrain, "Have mercy on us!" Then the earthquakes stopped.
The Orthodox Church still sings this prayer in divine services to this very day.
St. Nicholas Cabasilas on the Trisagion Hymn -
Fr. Dcn. Matthew explores the commentary on the "Holy God…" by the 14th-century Byzantine lay theologian, St Nicholas Cabasilas. What is the significance of this ancient hymn of glorification of the Trinity? This episode features portions of recordings of the hymn by St Anthony’s Monastery, the Monastery of St John the Wonderworker, the Stretennia Men’s Chorus, and St Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary.