An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Phos hilaron

The traditional candle-lighting hymn, which begins “O gracious Light, pure brightness of the ever living Father in heaven.” It appears in the BCP at Evening Prayer before the selection from the Psalter and in the Order of Worship for the Evening after the candle lighting (BCP, pp. 64, 112, 118). It was an ancient hymn of the Byzantine liturgy. Its name means “gladdening light” in Greek. Basil the Great (329?-379) spoke of the singing of the Phos hilaron as a cherished tradition of the church. If incense is used in the Order of Worship for the Evening, it is appropriately used after the lighting of the candles and during the singing of the Phos hilaron. The Hymnal 1982 includes settings and paraphrases of the Phos hilaron (S 27, S 59-S 61, Hymns 25, 26, 36, 37). See Lucinaria, Lucernarium.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.