In Praise of the Theotokos
The Dormition of the Theotokos -
Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist exclaimed: “Blest are you among women” eliciting from Mary, just arrived from Nazareth, her magnificent Magnificat -
Daily at Matins, Monastics of the Eastern Church sing the Magnificat, inserting a refrain (More honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who a Virgin gave birth to God the Word, you do we magnify) between each of the six verses. On major solemnities the Irmos of Matins (usually an elaborate poetic composition) replaces the aforesaid refrain.
On June 11, 980, a group of monks were singing this usual refrain at an all-
“It is truly proper to glorify you who have borne God, the ever blessed and Immaculate and the Mother of our God” -
The glorious voice was Gabriel the Archangel, standing near the icon of the Mother of God, as he sang with the monks. Of course St. Gabriel’s heavenly addition became part of the Divine Liturgy from that day!