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:

 

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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:

Kyrie, Eleison / Lord, Have Mercy

Kyrie eleison (KI-ree-ay ay-LAY-ee-zonn) or “Lord, have mercy” is a short prayer that is important in Christian worship. It is a prayer from the heart about human need. God owes us nothing. Everything he gives comes from his mercy. 

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Original in Greek:

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Some worship traditions translate Kyrie eleison as “Lord, have mercy.” Some leave it untranslated as is done for words like “Amen” and “Alleluia.”

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison are the first words in the main part of the Divine Service, either as a cry of repentance or as a prayer for God’s mercy in all aspects of life.

Kyrie.png
The Threefold Kyrie, tune from Luther’s German Mass with English Text. Book of Hymns (WELS, 1920, 1931)

The second use, as a prayer for God’s mercy in all aspects of life, often includes Kyrie eleison or” Lord, have mercy” as a response in a litany that brings the requests for the Lord to have mercy.  See “Help, Save, Have Mercy on Us” for such a responsive Kyrie prayer that has a very long history.

In Matins (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer) Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison or their translation appear in some form at the end of the service before the Lord’s Prayer.

As short as the Kyrie is, it has been set to music, both as the short Kyrie, and as a Kyrie with extended petitions.

Here it is from Bach’s Mass in B Minor:

Here it is in German, known to English-speaking Lutherans as “Kyrie, God, Father in heaven above”:

Here it is as a responsive litany, sung by pastor and people. Text uses some of the petitions from “Help, Save, Have Mercy on Us” (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). (Video and audio quality aren’t the best, but the performance was led by Regina H. Fryxell, who was the composer / arranger.)  Here the Kyrie is followed by the Gloria.

Enlightenment and Joy, Wisdom and Comfort, Rest and Peace

KAThe Lord enlighten you
through the teachings of Jesus Christ
and strengthen you as you walk in his light.

The Lord give you joy
as he shows you his Fatherly mercies
new every morning.

The Lord give you wisdom in happiness,
comfort in suffering,
rest in death,
and one day,
the peace of eternal life.

Source: Schleswig-Hosteinsche Kirchen-Agende, 1797, Segenswünsche,  p. 146#5, translated for A Collection of Prayers.

Original in German:

Der Herr erleuchte euch alle durch die Lehre Jesu Christi, und gebe euch Kraft, in ihrem Lichte zu wandeln!

Der Herr erfreue euch taglich durch neue Beweise seiner Vatergüte.

Der Herr gebe euch Weisheit in Glucke, Trost im Leiden, Ruhe im Tode und einst den Frieden des ewigen Lebens!

Translation note:

Literally, the first strophe is “The Lord enlighten you through the teachings of Jesus Christ and strengthen you as you walk in their light.” I thought it was less confusing, and more direct, to say “his light.”

The second strophe is translated more freely to state clearly what the original implies, “his mercies are new every morning.”

May the Almighty, All-Wise, All-Good God Bless Us

KAGod, the almighty
guide us in all our doings,
protect us in every danger,
help us in every need!

God, the all-wise
make everything work for our good,
according to his purpose.

God, the all-good
free us from all the afflictions
of Eden’s fall
on that day
when he gives us
the unending bliss
of eternal life.

Source: Schleswig-Hosteinsche Kirchen-Agende, 1797, Segenswünsche,  p. 146#3, translated for A Collection of Prayers.

Original in German:

Gott, der Allmächtige, sey unser Beistand in jedem Geschäft, unsre Zuversicht in jeder Gefahr, unsre Hülfe in jeder Noth!
Gott, der Allweise, lasse alle unsere Schicksale uns zum besten dienen!
Gott, der Allgütige, löse einst all’ unser Edenleiden auf in die überschängliche Wonne des ewigen Lebens!

Translation note:

“according to his purpose” was added for clarity, and to make a stronger connection with Romans 8:28.

“from all the afflictions of Eden’s fall…” was translated more freely for the sake of clarity.

Ascension Day Acclamation

Ascension_Painting.pngThe Lord ascended into heaven
so that he could send
the Comforter into this world.

Today the Father receives again to his side
the One who was in him from all eternity.

O you nations of the earth, clap your hands,
for Christ has gone up
to the place where he had been from all eternity.

Source: Ascension Day, Orthodox

This version is shortened from The Oxford Book of Prayer and http://standrewsinthevalley-thursdaymemos.blogspot.com/2011/06/