It is the praise of the three saintly youths. (It is a writing in the Holy Bible and the Protestants omitted it in the Beirut edition). It can be summed up that the king commanded the elimination of the three youths in the fiery furnace. Even though the fire did not go out, it did not touch them with any harm. The king found the presence of a fourth person walking with them in the midst of the furnace and this person resembled the sons of the gods. This canticle is sung by the church with the tune of joy in order to reveal to us these beautiful meanings:
- That the fire of the world is necessary for the trials of the church, but God is in the midst of the furnace changing the fire into cool dew.
- That inner peace does not mean the cessation of trials and sufferings from us. But it does mean the presence of God with us in the midst of the fire. Tribulation in Christianity is not resolved by its disappearance but with the passing of the Lord with us in it and with His carrying the cross with us and the everlasting presence with us. Stephen was being stoned and was seeing the Son of Man standing on the right of the majesty.
- That praise carries meanings of triumph with the power of the cross. With [the mystery of] the fourth, the resemblance of the sons of the gods, we cheer, “praise Him, glorify Him, and exceedingly exalt Him.”
- This praise gathers into one view its presence at the present distressing time and its presence in the joyful eternity. Thus, it is in the fire of the world and it is in the presence of God and the heavenly bliss.
- This praise is consistent with the Lord’s promise, “and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Mat 16:18)
The Congregation of the Saints (The Diptych)
After the praise of the third canticle, and the church’s feelings of the presence of God with the three saintly youths in the fiery furnace, this world, the feelings of the worshippers progress into the depth of the communion between the struggling church and the victorious church. The one purpose and the one spirit assembles them, and also the membership in the one body. What brings them closer together is the longing for meeting the Lord on the clouds where we will be with the Lord always. (1Thess 4:17) They find between them the tie of a unifying love. The heavenly support the earthly with prayer and the earthly express their wish to them with prayer. What is called death does not separate them from one another because it is not death but a crossing and a transfer.
The diptych begins with the intercessions of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and the archangels and the rest of the heavenly ranks, and John the Baptist, then the prayers of the saints beginning with the fathers the patriarchs, then the apostles and prophets and martyrs and ascetics and monks.
The entreating intercession is special to the Virgin, the archangels, the rest of the heavenly ranks and John the Baptist. Intercession here means the powerful liberty in granting the request to the level of trust in the fulfillment even if the time has not yet come and the Lord says, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?” But He changed the water to wine.
As for the rest of the apostles, prophets, the fathers the atriarchs and the martyrs – they are the cloud of witnesses who are for us in heaven asking on our behalf night and day. Each of them strives to be like his predecessor, imitating his way of life, asking for his help. Those present beneath the altar in heaven pray on behalf of the persecuted and hard pressed for the sake of the name of Christ. And the 144,000 virgins ask on behalf of those who desire a life of chastity and holiness in Christ. And the victorious at the sea of crystal ask on behalf of our youth struggling, even to blood, against sin, etc.
The diptych is a glimpse from the moments of transfiguration on the peak of the high mountain of the Lord (the church) where the Lord Jesus is [lofty] between Moses and Elijah. And at a lower level of the mountain (in the church), Peter, James and John become aware of them, heavy with sleep while saying, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”
The transfiguration is nothing but the state of prayer that gathers the Lord and His saints without being distinguished between the elements of time or place… Truly, it is eternity.
The Fourth Canticle (Psalms 148, 149, 150)
Some say that the midnight service ends with the diptych and the doxologies. Because of this, the fourth canticle begins with (ELEYCON YMAC – eleyson eemas) and it is sung: “Sing to the Lord a new song.”
The fourth canticle is made up of Psalms 148, 149, and 150 and it is all about praise. Praise is the work of the angels, and the continuous act of the church in heaven, and the act of His saints and the succession of animals, plants, and material things. God is glorified in an unequaled picture in His saints — “Praise God in all His saints.”
For Part 3 of Kiahk Praise – Click Here – http://www.vimeo.com/8053922
Fr Bishoy Kamal