We magnify the holy Hierarch Nicholas















We magnify thee, / O holy hierarch Nicholas, / and we honor thy holy memory; // for thou dost entreat Christ God in our behalf.

 

St Nicholas’ day is Friday this week. In order to celebrate our patron, we will try to post something about St Nicholas every week.

Remember:

  • Vigil for St Nicholas: Thursday 6:30 PM
  •  Divine Liturgy and festal lunch (fish allowed) Friday 9 AM 

 

 

 Truly, the church magnifies holy Nicholas because of our experience.


The hymn above, called the “Magnification” is sung at Matins shortly before the Gospel is read. All magnifications begin with “We magnify…” and follow with a very short hymn of praise. This is sung at all Feasts of the Lord (save Pascha, which has many special exceptions to our usual services), the Theotokos, and particuarly celebrated Saints.

 

The hymn is first sung by the priest and other serving clery before the icon in the center of the church, then the choir repeats it, with verses from the psalms being interspersed until the priest finishes censing the icon, altar and entire church, before returning in front of the icon in the center to sing the magnification one last time.

 

Usually the clergy sing the first and last time; in our church, since I have good (well, okay) and bad musical days, sometimes I gesture to the choir to sing the last time. The poor choir director never knows what I am going to do, and has to keep a lookout. There is always mystery in our services!

 

If you listen closely to the magnification, you will hear clear dogmatic truth expresssed, in this case, that because of St Nicholas being the “righteous man”, his “effectual fervent prayer accomplishes  much.[1]  

 

A underlying theme of all services extolling the saints is that their prayer for us accomplishes much. We ask for their intercession precisely because they are righteous, and they hear us. For instance:

 

The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, / an icon of meekness and a teacher of temperance; / therefore thou hast achieved the heights by humility, / riches by poverty. / O Father and  Hierarch Nicholas, / intercede with Christ God, // that our souls be saved.   Troparian, Tone 4

 

Dwelling bodily in Myra, / thou wast truly shown to be myrrh, / having been anointed with noetic chrism, O holy Nicholas, / hierarch of Christ; / and thou dost perfume the faces / of those who with faith and love / ever celebrate thy most glorious memory, / freeing them from misfor­tunes, perils and sorrows // by thy prayers to God, O father. Service to St Nicholas, Lord I have cried, Stichera 1

 

O father Nicholas, the shrine of thy relics, / like a phial, enricheth Myra with myrrh. / And, appearing to the emperor in a vision during sleep, / therein thou didst free from death, fetters and prison / those unjustly held condemned. / And now, as then, do thou ever appear in vi­sions, // praying for our souls. Service to St Nicholas, Litia, Stichera 2

 

The latter hymn, above, illustrates in large part why we have so much confidence in praying to holy Nicholas. Our experience has shown us that he has appeared at various times in various places. Yesterday we posted about his appearing in Russia in the winter to save a man from a firing squad. He is not dead, but alive, as all the saints are[2], and just as God send angels to spiritually and physically help us, so too, are the saints sometimes His angels.

 

How do we know that Saint Nicholas has appeared and continues to appear in the world? Beause of the experience of the church. Some of this experience is recorded in our service texts.

 

It is a shame that even some who are educated, and in positions of authority cannot believe the simple truths expressed in our services. We can only understand the services if we worship in them and then do what is said in them. Christian truth can only be understood by experience, when this experience leads one to moral change. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

 

O holy Nicholas, pure in heart and bold before the throne of God, interced for us that our hearts may become pure.

 

 


[1] The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  (James 5:16)

 

[2] I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Mat 22:32  )

 

 

 

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