Revelation 4:8-11

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for the ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,

“Worthy are thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created.”



4:8-11.  The chant of the four living creatures is virtually the same as that which the prophet Isaiah heard the six-winged seraphim sing in his vision of God in the temple of Jerusalem.  St John changes the ending by bringing in the name of God which is an elaboration of the name “Yahweh”.  The four creatures, who, because there are four of them, stand for government of the entire universe, take the lead in worshipping and praising God; but they are joined by all the people of God, as represented by the twenty-four elders, that is, the Church victorious in heaven.  They throw down their crowns to show that they realize their victory is due to God, and that all power belongs to him.  Essentially what they are praising here is God as creator.  By reporting this vision the author of the Apocalypse is inviting the pilgrim Church on earth to associate with the worship and praise offered God the creator in heaven.

The Church uses these words of praise in its Eucharistic liturgy: at the end of the Preface, it chants the angelic Sanctus in preparation for the Canon.  This angelic chant, performed as it is in heaven and on earth, reminds us of the sublimity of the Mass, where the worship of God crosses the frontiers of time and space and as positive influence of the entire world, for, “through the communion of the saints, all Christians receive grace from every Mass that is celebrated, regardless of whether there is an attendance of thousands or whether it is only a boy with his mind on other things who is there to serve.  In either case, heaven and earth join with the angels of the Lord to sing: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.  The saintly Cure of Ars refers to this intercommunion of praise and thanksgiving, of grace and forgiveness:  “The Holy Mass is a source of joy to all the heavenly court; it alleviates the poor souls in purgatory; it draws down to earth all kinds of blessings; and it gives more glory to God than all the sufferings of all the martyrs taken together, than all the penances of all the hermits, than all the tears shed for them since time began and all that will be shed from now till the end of time.”