Agnus Dei / Lamb of God

File:AGNUS DEI.jpgIn most liturgies, the Agnus Dei immediately follows the Words of Institution. The Agnus Dei is based on John the Baptist’s short sermon, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This short song brings the liturgy of the Divine Service to a sort of fulfillment. In the Kyrie we sang “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” In the Agnus Dei, this is repeated: “Lamb of God,… have mercy on us,… have mercy on us,… grant us peace.” In the Gloria in Excelsis we sang most of the words while singing the praise of Christ, “Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us.” The words of the Agnus Dei also reflect on the words of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper, “Given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

In one form or another, the Agnus Dei has been part of the Western Rite since the seventh century. It is has been called the “fraction anthem,” meaning that the bread for Holy Communion would be broken while it is sung. In some traditions, the distribution of Holy Communion begins with the Agnus Dei. Here is the standard English text from ELLC:

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
grant us peace.

The Latin text and other English versions of the text can be seen in this Wikipedia article.

The German translation from the time of the Reformation added “Christe,” or “O Christ,” either to clarify who the Lamb of God is, or to fill out the meter of the notes so that the German text could be sung to the same notes as the Latin. Here is the German tune from Luther’s Deutsches Messe, “Christe, du Lamm Gottes.” 

Agnus Dei
WELS Book of Hymns, 1920, 1931

And in the video it is sung with the English text, “O Christ, Lamb of God” at the 2017 WELS National Worship Conference.  It is preceded by an intonation and a new harmonization by Kermit Moldenhauer.

Since the Reformation, this hymn version of the Agnus Dei by Nicholas Decius was also sung as a German Agnus Dei:

Here it is in English with the new standard text in a contemporary setting by Ricky Manalo:

Here is the Latin text, sung to a setting by Samuel Barber. When performed by an orchestra with no choir, it is called the Adagio for Strings. It is very beautiful and haunting with the Latin text:

 

Sanctus / Holy, Holy, Holy

The Sanctus is in the Communion part of the Divine Service. The text comes from Isaiah’s vision of heaven (Isaiah 6) and John’s vision of heaven in Revelation (Revelation 4) and includes a phrase from the Palm Sunday Gospel, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). It is thought to have this place in the liturgy, at the end of a prayer of thanksgiving before the words of institution, since the fifth century. It’s origins in Christian worship may go back to the second century.

The use of “Holy, holy, holy,” together with “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” has some doctrinal implications. When they heard the song or shout of the angels, “Holy, holy, holy,” Isaiah and John were in the presence of God. The Palm Sunday acclamation also states, “Your Savior is here.” There is a connection between the Sanctus and the doctrine of the real presence in the Lord’s Supper. (More on that below.)

Here is the standard liturgical text from ELLC:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Some arrangements use the phrase: “Lord, God of hosts.”

And the older English text from The Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church. “Sabaoth” is a Hebrew word meaning ‘armies’ or ‘hosts,’ as in the heavenly hosts of angels and all the power of nature. I’ll mention something more about this with the Greek text below:

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory;
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest.

The Book of Common Prayer inserts “Glory to thee,…” and makes “Blessed is he…” optional. This is because some Anglicans taught real presence and some taught representation in the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. (I told you it was doctrinal!):

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts:
Heaven and earth are full of thy Glory.
Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.

Here may be added

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

In Greek:

Ἅγιος, ἅγιος, ἅγιος Κύριος Σαβαώθ.
Πλήρης ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ τῆς δόξης σου.
Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.
Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου.
Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.

The Greek text in Revelation 4 has παντοκρατωρ (pantokrator)instead of Σαβαώθ (Sabaoth). Pantokrator is a word that means “powerful over all.”

Text in Latin:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Some musical arrangements try to portray these words with the sublime bliss of heaven. Here’s one based on Pachelbel’s Kanon that is similar to the style of Enya:

Some arrangements seem to focus on the Pantokrator or Sabaoth, that the God who is present, our Saving God who comes to us, is powerful over all. Here it is as it appeared in The Lutheran Hymnal and also in Lutheran Service Book and in Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal‘s Common Service.

Sanctus.png
WELS, Book of Hymns, 1920, 1931

This recording includes the Sursum Corda (a dialogue before the preface) the chant of the preface, and then the Sanctus. In different liturgy and accompaniment books, I could only find the tune credited as “traditional.” In an older German source (Choralbuch, Concordia, 1902),  this tune is listed with the note “Seit c. 1848 allhier verbreitet.” (“Widely used since around 1848”).

Here is Mozart’s Sanctus. (The video says its from his Requiem, but that is not correct. ):

Luther’s hymn Jesaia, dem Propheten, Isaiah, Mighty Seer in Days of Old retells the vision from Isaiah 6, and among German Lutherans, this hymn took the place of the Sanctus, or was even called the German Sanctus. Here it is as arranged by Michael Praetorius with much tone-painting that supports the meaning of the words:

And here is Isaiah, Mighty Seer sung in English at the 2017 WELS National Worship Conference. It is performed by a children’s choir, adult choir, assembly, organ, brass and percussion. I was there for the performance, and it also conveyed the awe and the power of our thrice-holy God. The recording begins with the Exhortation from Luther’s Deutsches Messe, and is followed by Isaiah, Mighty Seer:

Peter and Paul

On June 29, the Christian church remembers St. Peter and St. Paul, who witnessed Christ by their preaching, their letters, and finally by their deaths.

Sts Peter and PaulO Lord God,
we humbly thank you
that you have spread abroad
the Word of your Gospel
over the whole world
through your apostles,
and have showered your grace upon us.
Uphold us by the teaching
of your holy apostles
and give us your Holy Spirit,
that we grow and remain in him;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Source: Die pommersche Kirchen-Ordnung und Agenda, p. 294#2. Translated for A Collection of Prayers.

Original in German:

O Herr Gott, wir danken dir von Herzen, daß du durch deine Apostel das Wort deines Evangclii über die ganze Welt hast ausgebreitet und zu uns auch mit Gnaden kommen lasse und bitten dich, du wollest unter uns die Lehre deiner heiligen Apostel rein erhalten und durch deinen heiligen Geist geben, daß wir darin wachsen und zunehmen, der du mit dem Sohn u.

The Nicene Creed

The Emperor Constantine with bishops at the Council of Nicea. Nicholas of Myra is second from the right.

The Nicene Creed was written at the Council of Nicea in A. D. 325, and completed in close to its present form at the Council of Constantinople in A. D. 381. (Sometimes it is called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.) It was written as a response to confusion about the doctrines of the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ as God and man. It draws heavily from Scripture. You can see a reflection of John chapter 1 in the second article about the dual nature of Christ. It has always been used as a creed of the church, and so it begins “We believe.” The Apostles’ Creed was originally a personal confession of faith at a person’s baptism, and so it begins “I believe.” The Nicene Creed is a part of the Divine Service as the congregation’s response to the Word. “We have heard… and so, we believe.” Later translations changed the first words of each article to the singular “I,” but modern practice has been to return to the original wording and intent of the creed as the confession of the assembled church.

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became fully human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who in unity with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Source: English Language Liturgical Consultation, altered slightly.

Below is the text from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

I BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

Although this is a confession of faith and a doctrinal statement, the Nicene Creed has been set to music. Here it is in Latin as a Gregorian Chant:

Here it is, also in Latin, from Mass in C by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Since the Reformation, it was the practice in Germany to sing the Creed in the form of a hymn. Here is Luther’s ‘Wir glauben all an einen Gott, Vater…”

 

Gloria in Excelsis / Glory to God in the Highest

The Gloria in Excelsis is a song of praise used in the Divine Service. It’s origin is in the eastern or Greek churches where it was first used as a song of praise in daily morning prayer. In the western churches it is used as the song of praise at the beginning of the Divine Service. It is a song of praise that begins with the text of the song of the angels on Christmas night. It addresses Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father’s supreme rule, the Son’s sacrifice and his sitting at his Father’s right hand over all things. It is sometimes called “the greater Gloria” in contrast to the “Gloria Patri.” 

Here is the English text from the Book of Common Prayer:

Glory be to God on high,
and on earth peace, good will towards men.

We praise thee,
we bless thee,
we worship thee,
we glorify thee,
we give thanks to thee for thy great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father,
have mercy upon us.

For thou only art holy;
thou only art the Lord;
thou only, O Christ,
with the Holy Ghost,
art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Here is the English text from English Language Liturgical Consultation, 1988, which is the basis for most modern liturgical music. Some textual changes from the Book of Common Prayer were done to avoid some repetition of phrases, and to be closer also to the Greek text.

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you,
we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ,
only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

In Greek:

Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ
καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία.

Ὑμνοῦμέν σε,
εὐλογοῦμέν σε,
προσκυνοῦμέν σε,
δοξολογοῦμέν σε,
εὐχαριστοῦμέν σοι, διὰ τὴν μεγάλην σου δόξαν.
Κύριε Βασιλεῦ, ἐπουράνιε Θεέ, Πάτερ παντοκράτορ,

Κύριε Υἱὲ μονογενές, Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα.
Κύριε ὁ Θεός, ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ Υἱός τοῦ Πατρός,
ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς,
ὁ αἴρων τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ κόσμου.
Πρόσδεξαι τὴν δέησιν ἡμῶν,
ὁ καθήμενος ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Πατρός, καὶ ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.
Ὅτι σὺ εἶ μόνος Ἅγιος,
σὺ εἶ μόνος Κύριος,
Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, εἰς δόξαν Θεοῦ Πατρός.
Ἀμήν.

In Latin:

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntátis.

Laudámus te,
benedícimus te,
adorámus te,
glorificámus te,
grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis,
Deus Pater omnípotens.

Dómine Fili unigénite, Jesu Christe,
Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris,
qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram.
Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.

Quóniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dóminus,
tu solus Altíssimus,
Jesu Christe,
cum Sancto Spíritu: in glória Dei Patris. Amen.

The Gloria in Excelsis has been set to music thousands of times. Any piece of music called a Mass or a Divine Service would include it. Here it is from Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

And here it is in German by Michael Praetorius:

It is also been the subject of contemporary or folk settings. Here is a setting by Ricky Manalo:

And here it is in Latin as a Gregorian chant:

Along with settings of the prose texts and translations, the Gloria in Excelsis has also been paraphrased into the form of a hymn. Here is “Allein Gott in der Hoh, sei Ehr,” which has been used as the German Gloria since the time of the Reformation:

Help Us to Know Your Word, Help Us to Do Our Work

800px-lucas_cranach_d-c384-_-_martin_luther2c_1528_28veste_coburg29_28cropped29Almighty and eternal God,
we pray that you would
uphold us
through the right knowledge
of your divine Word
through your Holy Spirit.
Grant us peace and health
as we do the work
of our callings
with your blessing;
through your dear Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Source: Martin Luther,  [Die Gebete Luthers#41]

Original in German:

O allmächtiger, ewiger Gott, wir bitten dich, du wollest uns ja bei der rechten Erkenntnis deines göttlichen Worts durch deinen H. Geist gnädiglich erhalten, Friede und Gesundheit verleihen, daß wir die Werke unsers Berufs seliglich mögen ausrichten, durch Jesum Christum, deinen lieben Sohn, unsern Herrn.

A Prayer of Confession

O my dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
you know my poor soul
and my great transgressions,
and I cry out to you alone
with an open heart.
I am sorry
that I do not have
will or intentions as I should
and I fall behind daily,
for I am a poor, sick sinner.
You know
that I want to have good will and good intentions,
but my foe strikes
and leads me captive.
Redeem me,
a poor sinner,
according to your divine will.
Deliver me from all evil
and all afflictions.
Strengthen and
increase in me
true Christian faith.
Give me grace
to faithfully
love my neighbor
as myself
with all my heart,
and to love him as a brother.
Give me patience and perseverance
in all persecution and trouble.
You told St. Peter
not to forgive only seven times,
and you have called us to come to you
for consolation.
So I come with the assurance
of what you have pledged,
and I cry to you
as my true Pastor
and Bishop of my soul
in all my needs.
You alone know
how and when
I need your help.
Your will be done,
and your name be praised forever.
Amen.

Source: Martin Luther,  [Die Gebete Luthers#31]

Ach meyn lieber HERRE Jesu Christe, du erkennest meyn arme seele, vnd meynen grossen gebrechen, den ich dyr alleyna mit offenem hertzen klage. Ich befinde leyder, das ich nicht habe eynen solchen willen vnd vorsatz, als ich yhn wol solt haben, vnd fall teglich dahyn als eyn kranckes sundiges mensch’, vnd du weyst, das ich yhe gerne eynen solchen willen vnd vorsatz wolthe haben vnd mich doch meyn feynd ym stricke furet gefangen, erlöse mich armen sunder nach deynem göttlichen willen von allem vbel vnd anfechtungen, Stercke vnd vormehre ynn myr den rechten waren Christlichen glawben, gib myr gnade, meynen nehisten aus gantz meynem hertzen getrewlich vnd als mich selbst brüderlichen zu belieben, vorleyhe myr gedult ynn vorfolgunge vnd aller widderwertickeyt, Du hast yhe zu Sancto Petro gesaget, Das er nicht alleyne sieben mal vorgeben solt’, Vnd vns heyssen tröstlichen von dyr bitten, so kome ich ynn zuuorsicht solches deynes zusagens vnd gepietens vnd klage dyr als meynem rechten pfarrer vnd ,Bischoffe meyner seelen’8 all meyne nott. Dann du alleyn weyst, wie vnd wenn myr zu helffen ist. Deyn wille der geschehe vnd sey gebenedeyet ewiglich.