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There are nine choirs of angels: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Archangels, Principalities, and Angels. What do the Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, and Principalities do? Are they just in heaven praising God, or do they have some special function in the universe?

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  • It is, as ever, worth reading Thomas Aquinas on the subject. Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Quastio 108. It's not the world's easiest read, however. Aug 12, 2014 at 15:03
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    Where do you get all these choirs from? I've not heard of most of them (outside of Seraphim and Cherubim)
    – LCIII
    Aug 12, 2014 at 15:14
  • I agree with lcii
    – BYE
    Aug 12, 2014 at 15:57
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    Those labels are all used in various places (Corinthians, Colossians, Revelation, etc.) but they don't all refer to angels at all, much less angel choirs. Where did you get that association?
    – Caleb
    Aug 12, 2014 at 17:06
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    @Caleb - Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. See the article on Angelic Hierarchy in Wikipedia. Aug 14, 2014 at 0:14

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The choirs tend to be considered part of the extra-Biblical tradition of the Catholic church, with some attributes derived from historical Judaism. While I'd always recommend Aquinas, if you're just curious in an overview, I'd highly recommend our friends over at Catholic Online:

http://www.catholic.org/saints/angels/angelchoir.php

The nature of the choirs seems, to me, to be a way for the fundamentally limited human mind to understand something of the nature of heaven, perfect, and the presence of God. You asked specifically about Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, and Principalities so I'll delve into those a bit:

Thrones are a relay between some of the other orders of angels and God. They epitomize humility.

Dominions are a relay from God to some of the other orders of angels. They epitomize regulation.

Together, Thrones and Dominions provide communication to and from God.

Virtues control the elements.

Powers are the professional warrior class.

Principalities are, in my opinion, a complete theological hornet's nest. They seem to exist to demonstrate the supremacy of Jesus but are pretty difficult to explain in a single line. You might want to read up on them in greater detail on your own.

Of course, this is just one interpretation, you may also want to check out Wikipedia's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_angelic_hierarchy) or track down the verses in question yourself.

Or, of course, you can throw up your hands and just read Aquinas. The Summa is an immensely rewarding read and I highly recommend it.

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