Our site administrators receive many questions via email regarding the renown Seraphim song, so we decided to write up this article on the subject. The Seraphim song is known officially as the Trisagion, which means Thrice Holy, a direct reference to the fact that the song starts off with the words holy, holy, holy. The Trisagion is a standard length hymn within the Divine Liturgy of most Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches. In church sermons that practice the ancient Byzantine Rite, the hymn is sung in the run up to the Prokeimenon, as well as before the Epistle Reading. Within the Eastern Orthodox Church, a set of prayers even contains the Seraphim song, prayers which are referred to as the Trisagion Prayers. Within the Roman Catholic church an indulgence of 100 days is connected with the Seraphim song, and is used in daily prayer along with the traditional Sanctus and adoration of the Holy Trinity.
The word Trisagion originated within the Greek language, and as mentioned above it means "Thrice Holy". In the Old Testament book of Isaiah Chapter 6 verses 1 through 3, the prophet recollects his vision of the Seraphim, and then goes on to describe them as being locked in eternal song. The song that they sung goes, "holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of heavenly hosts, the earth is filled with His glory". The Trisagion takes this Seraphim song, and incorporates it into a singable hymn. Almost all of the various Christian churches regardless of denomination use the hymn in some fashion or another. The Greek Eastern Orthodox church pays particular honor to the hymn, as it's wrapped in tradition dating back to Theodosius II of Constantinople. The Coptic Orthodox church however believes that it predates Greek tradition, and that it was created by Nicodemus who shouted it after he saw Jesus Christ open his eyes after being removed from the cross.
The Trisagion has been formally translated into numerous different languages. It can be found in Latin, Greek, Gaelic, Armenian, Croatian, Polish, Romanian, Old English, French, Finnish, Georgian, Amharic, Japanese, and many others. Much care is taken during the translation process, and in most cases the representative church must sanctify the translation before it can be officially recognized. If you haven't heard the hymn before, then you are in for a real treat, as it sounds very beautiful in every language that I've heard it sung in. The regular prayer version even sounds nice, particularly in Latin and Greek. There are various places on the internet where you can either listen to the Trisagion in various languages, or you can watch a video of it being sung at various churches. I would encourage anyone reading this article to definitely listen to an actual version of the hymn, you won't be disappointed as it's extremely beautiful.
In modern times the Trisagion has been repeatedly modified by most Christian denominations, and it generally causes a lot of controversy each time one of these changes takes place. Many of the changes have been made to the wording, in attempt to make the hymn more melodious while being sung. Obviously this does not sit well with most Christian traditionalists, who feel that by continually chiseling at the Seraphim song, that much of it's very rich history will be lost forever. There have been several instances within the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches where changes to the Trisagion have caused huge fractures within the church, with some people even going so far as to say changing it is equivalent to blasphemy. Despite protests towards any changes, in most cases the older generation will simply ignore the new version, and only the newer generation of church goers will adopt the new contemporary version.