Hymn to the Theotokos
During the Anaphora, the most solemn part of the Divine Liturgy, the eucharistic gifts are changed into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. At the conclusion of the Anaphora, the priest prays that this act of worship be offered for all of the faithful departed1 but especially for “... our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary.” Thus, the prayer following the Anaphora prays for those who have fallen asleep, including the Theotokos.
Thus, the Theotokos is again acknowledged as the preeminent saint of the Church. In fact, the prayer that follows, called the Hymn to the Theotokos, extols her virtues:
It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure and the mother of our God. More honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: true Theotokos we magnify thee.2
And although she is highly venerated, she is still a human being in need of salvation. Fr Thomas Hopko describes this part of the Divine Liturgy in the following way: “…the Divine Liturgy is the real presence and power of the unique saving event of Christ for His people… it is always offered for all who need to be saved. Thus the liturgical sacrifice is offered for Mary and all of the saints, as well as for the whole Church and the entire universe of God’s creation.”3
Thus Mary, the Mother of God, is honored above the cherubim and the seraphim who stand in the presence of God. Theologically speaking, she was Christ’s earthly throne and now stands at the head of the saints before the throne of God in His Kingdom and intercedes for us.
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“...ancestors, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, ascetics, and every righteous spirit made perfect in faith.” ↩
Vespers and Divine Liturgy: Service Book for the Faithful, eds. Jonathan Lincoln and Heiromonk Heran (South Canaan: St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press, 2021), 68. ↩