Thanksgiving and Dismissal

In the concluding part of the Divine Liturgy, the priest and faithful thank God for the opportunity to participate in the redeeming sacrifice of Christ, and in Holy Communion. The hymns and prayers of this part of the liturgy combine praise of God's glory with a request for his assistance and protection, that we may live out our calling as Christians.

Thanksgiving for Holy Communion

Most hymns and prayers in Byzantine Rite liturgy are addressed to God the Father. But here, having just received Jesus Christ himself in Holy Communion, the faithful address him directly in praise, asking that they may be be preserved in holiness and enabled to follow the pattern He has shown us:

May our mouth be filled with your praise, O Lord, so that we may sing of your glory. For you have deemed us worthy to partake of your holy, divine, immortal, pure, and life-creating mysteries. Keep us in your holiness so that all the day long we may live according to your truth. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The deacon returns to his place before the holy doors, and calls the faithful to stand attentively:

Arise! Now that we have received the divine, holy, most pure, immortal, heavenly, life-creating, and awesome mysteries of Christ, let us worthily thank the Lord.

to which the faithful respond, "Lord, have mercy." Then the priest intones a prayer of thanksgiving which repeats and expands upon the hymn that the faithful have just sung:

We thank you, O Master, Benefactor of our souls, who love us all, that this day you have made us worthy of your heavenly and immortal mysteries. Through the prayers and intercession of the glorious Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary and of all your saints, make straight our path, confirm us all in fear of you, guard our life, and safeguard our steps.

For you are our sanctification, and we give glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.

and the faithful respond, "Amen." Notice how the prayer emphasizes that it is God's holiness which is to dwell in the faithful; in imitating Christ, we are drawn into the life of God.

The Ambon Prayer

At one time, this was the point in the Divine Liturgy at which the clergy would make their way in procession out of the church, with the celebrant stopping in the middle of the nave to pray once more for the people. This prayer, said "before the ambon", is called the Ambon Prayer.

The priest leaves the sanctuary to stand in the middle of the church, facing East with the people, and announces the end of the Liturgy, after which the faithful will depart from the church to carry out Christ's ministry:

Let us go forth in peace

and the faithful affirm that they do so under God's protection:

In the name of the Lord.

Then the priest, still standing in the middle of the church, intones the "prayer before the ambon", or Ambon Prayer.  Here is the common form of this prayer:

Lord, blessing those who bless you and sanctifying those who trust in you, save your people and bless your inheritance. Preserve the fullness of your Church, sanctify those who love the beauty of your house, glorify them in return by your divine power, and do not forsake us who hope in you. Grant peace to your world, to your churches, to the priests, to our government, and to all your people. For all generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from you, the Father of Lights; and we give glory, thanksgiving, and worship to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.

This prayer is a small masterpiece of the Byzantine tradition. From the intimacy of Holy Communion, it broadens our gaze to encompass the entire Church, asks for peace both for the church and for the world, and praises God for all his gifts.

In the past, there were quite a few different ambon prayers for specific feasts and special occassions, and Father David Petras edited a collection of these prayers in English translation. The annual typikon points to these prayers as appropriate, and many priests use them in church in place of the "ordinary" ambon prayer.

This is also one of the points at which special blessings may be imparted.

Final blessing

"To bless" originally meant "to say good words over someone or something"; the effect of these words depends on who is saying them and to whom they are directed. To bless God is to praise him; to bless people is to call down God's favor upon them. We see this clearly in the Divine Liturgy: the fathful praise God by singing:

Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever.

This is sung three times. Then the priest blesses the faithful in God's name:

The blessing of the Lord be upon you through his grace and loving kindness, always, now and ever and forever.

and the faithful respond, "Amen."


The actual dismissal of the faithful is the common one used in the Byzantine Rite. The priest praises Christ, who has led us in prayer:

Glory to you, O Christ God our hope, glory to you.

and the faithful respond with praise of all three persons of the Trinity, before asking once more for God's blessing:

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

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Give the blessing!

The actual dismissal intoned by the priest is a prayer for salvation and blessing:

May Christ our true God have mercy on us and save us through the prayers of his most pure Mother; and of the holy, glorious, and illustrious apostles; of our holy father John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople; of the holy (Name), the patron of this church; of the holy (Name(s) of the saint(s) of the day); and through the prayers of all the saints; for Christ is good and loves us all.

The celebrant inserts the names of patron or patroness of the Church (that is, the saint after who it is named), as well as the saint or saints of the day. On certain days, the name of Christ may be expanded with additional reasons for celebration. For example, on Sunday the prayer begins:

May Christ our true God, risen from the dead....

with similar expansions for feast days.

On special occasions, the celebrant may lead the people in singing "Many years" (for the living) or "Eternal memory" (for the departed).

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