Sanctify Those Who Love The Beauty of Thy House


After communion in an Orthodox Liturgy, the priest prays the “Prayer Behind the Ambo,” a prayer offered from the midst of the Church (more or less). It gives thanks for all that God has done for us, and asks blessings on His people. I particularly love the phrase that asks, “Sanctify those that love the beauty of Thy house. Glorify them in return by Thy divine power.”

I think in particular of God “glorifying us in return” by making beautiful with spiritual adornment the temple of our souls and bodies. Having within ourselves a love of beauty – and beauty properly understood – is an essential part of the spiritual life. This week, young children in our parish are enjoying “Vacation Church School,” which this year is centered around worship. Learning hymns, Bible stories, making things that are part of the beauty of worship (candles, incense, etc.) – all of it seems to me to part of nurturing a love of beauty within the souls of young children.

Interestingly, when Plato wrote his Republic, in which he imagined an ideal society, he included the need for instruction in music, for without this, he thought, the soul of a child would not be properly formed. It is a deep insight, though from outside the Tradition. But it is truly essential that we allow to be formed in us and in those we love a love for Beauty – for it is God Himself who is Beauty – that we find mirrored in the beauty around us.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





8 responses to “Sanctify Those Who Love The Beauty of Thy House”

  1. Lucy Avatar

    I think that is a wonderful idea for a summer church school! Do you have a curriculum that you’re using?

  2. fatherstephen Avatar

    My second priest is assembling a detail version of it this week. Should soon be available. Send me a note at

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  3. Catechumen Avatar

    I love the prayers of the Church. They have such rich theology!

  4. Mary Avatar

    Father Stephen, IWhat are some beautiful things I can teach my children? I have been seeking an answer to this question for such a long time as I have grieved over our culture and the things it offers our children. I am part of a small church and we are blessed with my priest’s wife who has the most amazing love for children I have ever seen. She is teaching them about the Saints in the most wonderful way! Some beautiful things we are discovering are music (Orthodox and Classical), a love of nature, caring for the elderly (something children desperately need to know how to do), art, good literature, caring for animals, etc. Our world is filled with so many amazing and beautiful things! I would love to hear you expand on this. I see so many bored children whose minds are being filled with such trivial and sad things.

  5. fatherstephen Avatar

    It sounds like you’re already doing it.

  6. Lucy Avatar

    Fr. Stephen, I sent you a note, but I’m not sure it went through. Is it or

    Thank you for being willing to make your material available!

  7. fatherstephen Avatar


    email hidden; JavaScript is required

  8. Lucy Avatar


    Thank you! I sent it to the right address then! 🙂

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