The literary basis for the icon is the Sunday hymn in the praise of the Mother of God of the Octoechos, which is sung in the matins instead of a hymn “Meet it is in truth…” sung at the Divine liturgy of St. Basil the Great. The text of the hymn is “In thee rejoiceth all creation, O thou full of grace, the angelic assembly, and the race of man, O sanctified temple and noetical paradise, praise of virgins, of whom God was incarnate, and became a child, Who was before the ages, even our God; for of thy body a throne He made, and thy womb more spacious than the heavens did He form. In thee rejoiceth all creation, O thou full of grace: glory to thee”.

In the center of the icon, in accordance with the hymn words (“for of thy body a throne He made”) is the figure of the enthroned Theotokos with the Child Christ on the lap. She is surrounded by a blue mandorla. The throne is surrounded by angels (“angelic assembly”). Behind the throne, against the flourishing paradise trees is a splendorous temple – a symbolic image of the Mother of God (O sanctified temple and noetical paradise). The entire upper part of the icon covered with a blue semi-sphere illustrating the words “thy womb more spacious than the heavens did He form.” In the bottom part is “all creation” – “human kind” singing praise to the Mother of God. This is the assembly of all saints ranked in the order of their sanctity that a priest recounts in a prayer preceding the hymn “In Thee Rejoiceth…” To the right are the prophets and high priests, followed by holy hierarchs and the venerables. In the upper part are the figures of the forefathers. To the right are the apostles, martyrs, saints and the righteous women. In a separate corner stands the author of the hymn, the venerable John of Damascus, holding an unfolded scroll.

Although the iconography of “In Thee Rejoiceth…” developed based on a hymn ascribed to John of Damascus, who had lived in the 8th century, his images first appeared not earlier than in the second half – late 15th century and primarily in Russia, as noted by A.N.Grabar and other scholars. The earliest examples of this iconography are a Pskovian icon with an inscription “Praise to the Mother of God” dated to the last third of the 15th century from Suzdal’s Intercession Monastery (State Tretyakov Gallery), a Novgorodian tablet icon of the 1490s (Nizhny Novgorod Historical and Architectural Museum), a 1497 icon from the Assumption Cathedral of the St. Cyril of Belozersk Monastery and a fresco by Dionysius in the village of Ferapontovo. Highly significant for further development of the iconography is a 15th century icon from the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. There are two variants of the “In Thee Rejoiceth…” iconography – Muscovite and Novgorodian – varying in the depictions of humankind by the hierarchy of the saints.

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


1. Иконы Твери, Новгорода, Пскова XV – XVI вв. Каталог собрания ЦМиАР. Выпуск I. М.: Индрик, 2000.

2. «О Тебе разуется». Русские иконы Богоматери XVI – начала ХХ веков. Каталог выставки из фондов Музея имени Андрея Рублева. М., 1995.

3. Дионисий «живописец пресловущий». М.: Северный паломник, 2002.

4. Лазарев В. Н. Дионисий и его школа. // История русского искусства. Т. 3. М., 1955.

5. Попов Г. В. Художественная жизнь Дмитрова в XV – XVI вв. – М., 1973.

6. Нерсесян Л. В. К вопросу о происхождении и символическом содержании иконографии «О Тебе разуется». // Древнерусское искусство. Византия и Древняя Русь. СПб., 1999. С. 380-397.

7. Попов Г. В., Рындина А. В. Живопись и прикладной искусство Твери XIV – XVI вв. М., 1979.

8. Государственная Третьяковская Галерея. Древнерусское искусство X – начала XV века. Каталог собрания. Том 1. М., 1995.

9. Антонова В. И., Мнёва Н. Е. Каталог древнерусской живописи XIV – начала XVII веков: Опыт историко-художественной классификации. М., 1963.