What happened in the opening parts of the Eucharistic [communion] portion of our worship was to invite us into prayer and giving thanks to God, “The Great Thanksgiving,” if you may. After the exchange of the dialogue between the pastor and the people, the pastor says the Preface for the day. The reason for giving thanks on this day is rounded up in the words of the Preface. But the preface concludes with some generally fixed, standard words:
“And so, with all the choirs of angels,
with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven,
we praise your name and join their unending hymn:”
The Preface is to tie us together with all that in creation, in heaven and on earth, saints and angels [and sinners], that is giving praise to God. These words intentionally remind us that what we are doing in this moment is not something we do alone but is being done [in communion] with all of God’s creation.
What follows is then one of the great transitions in our worshipping experience. We are then invited to join the singing of all of the heavenly host. It is in this moment when, with words that were heard by the prophet Isaiah when he glimpsed into heaven [Isaiah 6:3, as well as Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 4:8 where we see/hear similar things].
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest
It is at this moment, in this place, that the separation between heaven and earth dissolves and we are placed fully in the presence of God. Note the word ‘Hosanna.’ It means, “save me/us, we pray.” You may also note that the concluding words echo the words of the crowd as Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. [Matthew 21:9-11; Mark 11:9-10: Luke 19:37-40]
One final thing to note about the Sanctus. Many people find it appropriate to bow at this moment in worship. This is the moment when we fully enter into the presence of God which, when you think about it, is a holy and awe-inspiring thing!