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September 25: The Earthquake and the Revelation of the Trisagion Hymn

What a day! I am spent. I sit quietly here before my icons trying desperately to begin evening vespers with any kind of attentiveness at all but my mind is racing from all the day's events. My eyes are closed, but behind them my thoughts race around and around my head and I watch them helplessly until I am dizzy and disoriented. My body is still, but my heart is still racing and my muscles twitch from the leftover stress of the day. My entire being seems to be quaking, there is no stillness, no peace in my heart and there is nothing I can do to stop it. God deserves my full attention. I beg him to help me as I begin my prayers...

+Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, Have mercy on us!

+Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, Have mercy on us!

+Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, Have mercy on us!

History tells us that in the year 447AD, the city of Constantinople was ravaged by intermittent earthquakes for a span of about four months time.  People were becoming emotionally drained, not only because the earthquakes themselves were difficult to endure, and they made the conditions ideal for a predatory attack by none other than Attila the Hun, one of the most fierce and dreaded warrior invaders of the time.  

Out of desperation, the Emperor Theodocius, the Patriarch Proclus, and all of the people of Constantinople took part in a barefoot procession to beg God for mercy and protection.  As they began to pray, the earthquakes suddenly became more violent, and a little boy was taken up into the heavens in the sight of the crowd.  They all watched him, suspended in mid-air and understandably, began to cry out, "Lord, have mercy!"  When the boy came down to earth, he told the crowd that while he was up in the heavens, he heard the angels singing, " Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One!"  And then he heard the people shouting, " Lord have mercy!". He told the Emperor that he heard God tell him that he must tell the people to pray to God using these words.  As soon as the people began to repeat the words the boy had taught them, the earthquakes stopped, and the boy fell asleep in the Lord.   It was Empress Pulcharia, sister of Theodocius, who asked the Patriarch to include this powerful angelic prayer in our Divine Liturgy, and it remains a beloved liturgical hymn to this day.  

It is no wonder that we begin our prayers in this very same way, begging God to stop the earthly movement of our minds and hearts so that, slowly and surely, we may pray in stillness and in peace.


This prayer may be one of the most beloved among Eastern Christians, especially children, who often learn to recite this hymn as the very first of all they know. It may become even more interesting for them to learn now that they know it's interesting origin.

You may wish to take this opportunity to review the Byzantine Daily prayers with your little saints today! Be sure to tell them to relax their little minds as they repeat this prayer once, twice, then three times, and quiet their hearts and prepare them to be lifted up to God!


In the Name of the Father +, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (Three times)

Glory to You, 0 Lord, Glory to You!

0 Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, You are everywhere present and fill all things.

Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain,

and save our souls, 0 gracious Lord.

+, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us. (Three times)

Glory to the Father +, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen.

0 Most Holy Trinity +, have mercy on us; 0 Lord, cleanse us of our sins; 0 Master, forgive our transgressions; 0 Holy One, come to us and heal our infirmities for Your Name's sake.

Lord, have mercy. (Three times)

Glory to the Father+ ... now and ever ...

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day-our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, Father +, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen.

Lord, have mercy. (Twelve times)

Glory to the Father + ... now and ever ...

Come, let us adore + the King our God.

Come, let us adore + Christ the King and our God.

Come, let us adore and bow down + to the only Lord Jesus Christ the King and our God.

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Friend, this is quite a few years after you wrote this post, but I thought you might be interested in my newly published Down the Valley, which features this boy, who meets a contemporary child, and they exchange experiences. The trisagion hymn that he taught the Church is so important, and we do not even know his name--though I think that the Ethiopian church has a name for him.

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