“The Cosmic Ring-Dance of the Angels” by Frederick M. Huchel

Detail from "The Last Judgment" by Fra Angelico - "The Dance of the Angels"

Detail from "The Last Judgment," c1425, by Fra Angelico - "The Dance of the Angels"

Some of you may remember my paper The Genesis of the Round Dance that I posted early in the life of TempleStudy.com.  It was a paper I wrote for a BYU Dance Department Symposium a few years ago that addressed the ancient ubiquitous practice of ring dancing, particularly as connected with religious worship and prayer.  It was a subject that really intrigued me, and is probably one of the most researched topics I’ve ever written about, as well as one of the first, taking some precious leads from Hugh Nibley and running.

Br. Frederick M. Huchel, an independent historian and scholar of the temple from Logan, Utah,  a week and a half ago spoke on the same subject at Margaret Barker’s Temple Studies Group symposium in London, England.  His presentation was entitled “The Cosmic Ring-Dance of the Angels: An Early Christian Rite of the Temple.”  The paper has now been published on David Larsen’s Heavenly Ascents blog.

I have not yet had the chance to read the paper, but I am confident that it will go far and above the detail of my paper, lending valuable insights particularly in the area of the ancient Israelite and early Christian elements.  Br. Huchel’s original work on the subject spans over 100 pages that he plans to publish at some point, of which this paper is a portion.

I’m really looking forward to learning more about this subject from Br. Huchel!  You can find the paper at the links below:

Introduction by Br. Huchel at Heavenly Ascents
PDF of “The Cosmic Ring-Dance of the Angels: An Early Christian Rite of the Temple”

Update: Frederick M. Huchel has now published a book on this subject.  You can buy it here: http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/the-cosmic-ring-dance-of-the-angels—softbound/7409216?fNo=Cancel


  1. Posted June 12, 2009 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    I myself have enjoyed Brother Huchel’s scholarship for nearly 40 years now.

  2. Brad Minick
    Posted June 12, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I have not yet had a chance to read “The Genesis Round Dance” or “The Cosmic Ring-Dance of the Angels: An Early Rite of the Temple”, but I am very much intrigued with the topic. Reading your post immediately brought to mind 1 Nephi 1:8, wherein it reads: “And being thus overcome with the spirit, he was carried away in vision, even that he saw the heavens opened, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angles in the attitude of singing and praising their God.” I’m interested in learning more. Thank you Bryce for your outstanding work.

  3. Posted June 12, 2009 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Brad, for your kind words. Both I and Br. Huchel mention 1 Nephi 1:8 in our papers, I believe.

  4. Posted June 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    An awesome read. Thanks for sharing! It’s fascinating what has been preserved, and now restored.

  5. Posted June 12, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you!

  6. Rob Sloat
    Posted July 5, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Frederick Huchel’s , The Cosmic Ring-Dance of the Angels’s, is a 30 minute talk given at Margaret Barker’s Temple Studies Group in London. He references a more in-depth 100 page study giving much more details of early Christian references. Wondering if any one knows if the more detailed paper has been published or Frederick’s email????

  7. Posted July 6, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The more detailed paper has not been published yet, but Br. Huchel is working on getting it published soon.

  8. Matthew B. Brown
    Posted August 30, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    It appears that Huchel’s book has now been published.


  9. Justin Martyr Jr
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    Fra Angelico’s depiction of the “Last Judgment,” as some of his other paintings, preserves some aspects of earlier Christian mysteries. Fra’s works, “Christ as pilgrim,” preserve some aspects of Christ’s world wide trek, derived from (Matthew 25); plus his “Christ’s descent into limbo”; shows different types of hand & wrist grips too.

    Fra’s “Last Judgment,” painted about 1429 during his stay at Fiesole, for the Camaldolese monks of Santa Maria degli Angeli; now in the Academy, Florence; shows more temple evidences. Fragments of the doctrine of deification= becoming gods, is also preserved, to a certain extent in the way Fra Angelico depicted the “saved” as having their faces shine! Commenting on “The Last Judgment,” painting, Albert E. Bailey, cites without a reference to Old Testament Prophet Daniel 12:3. “They that be wise shall shine as the sun, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.”

    Irenaeus, AD 120-202, Bishop of Lyons, a disciple of Polycarp, who was St. John’s pupil; quotes Daniel to suggest that the deifieds’ faces would shine with great glory & light.

    Bailey: “Some of the shining ones act as ushers to lead the new-comers to the celestial garden-party already going on in the pastures of the blessed.”

    Off to one side, the far right side of Christ’s right hand, symbolic of the right hand path, in contrast to the left hand side of Christ. Those on Christ’s right hand side are in the process of being deified, perfected & glorified. Those on Christ’s left hand side are being demonified, the opposite of deification, for they are becoming more like the devil & demons.

    Light shines from a heavenly city, towards which two shining souls float towards, it’s light of the celestial city, “Jerusalem the Golden” that shines through the entrance way. The saved are also depicted as if joining a sort of hand clasping circle dance with the angels.

    Synesius, in one of his Hymns has this to say about the soul: “Soon commingled with the Father Thou shalt dance a ‘god’ with God.”

    Fra Angelico. The Last Judgement. c.1431. Tempera on wood. 105 x 210 cm. Museo di San Marco, Florence, Italy.

    Fra Angelico. Christ as Pilgrim Received by Two Dominicans. c.1441. Fresco, 108 x 145. Museo di San Marco, Florence, Italy. Two monks welcome the wandering Christ, guised as a Pilgrim, by grasping Christ’s wrist.

    Fra Angelico. Christ in Limbo. c.1450. Fresco, 183 x 166. Museo di San Marco, Cell 31, Florence, Italy. Adam(?) is the first to grasp Christ’s right hand, as Christ rescues souls out of limbo.

    Albert E. Bailey, The Gospel In Art, by 1916, Pilgrim Press, Boston & Chicago, p.415-421; The Ante Nicene Fathers, 1:488-90, & 497, Irenaeus; The Nicene & Post Nicene Fathres, 5:502, note 4, citing Synesius. See also: Encyclopedia of World Art, Vol.I, pl.63, The birth of the Virgin, Panel, Munich, Pinakothek, Pub. in 1959, by McGraw-Hill Pub., Co., Lon., Also in 1958 by the Istituto per la Collaborazione Culturale, Rome, this art work shows angels in the air, in a circle clasping hands. Compare: Clement of Alex., Cohortation ad gentes xii, in Migne, PG 8:241; The Collected Works of Huge Nibley, Vol.4, Mormonism And Early Christianity, 1987, Pub. by FARMS, & DBC., Provo & SLC., Utah, chap.3, pp.45-99; earlier published as: The Early Christian Prayer Circle, by FARMS, BYU Studies XIX, #1, 41-78 (Fall 1978). See also: Art of the Early Renaissance by Michael Batterberry, 1964 & 1968, by Fratelli Fabbri, Ed., Milan Italy, pp.78, 80-1, & 184, fig.79; The Encyc. of Visual Art, Vol.3, p.273, angels in a circle in the air clasping hands.

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