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Sanctus Benedictus

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Title: Sanctus Benedictus  
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Subject: Mass (liturgy), In Nomine, Metrical psalter, Book of Divine Worship, Missa in Angustiis, Missa in tempore belli, Gallican Rite, Messa per Rossini, Petite messe solennelle, Anglican Eucharistic theology
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Sanctus Benedictus

For the Latin adjective and its meanings, see saint and holy.

The Sanctus (Latin: Sanctus, English: Holy, Russian: Свят, Romanian: Sfânt) is a hymn from Christian liturgy, forming part of the Order of Mass. In Western Christianity, the Sanctus is sung (or said) as the final words of the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer, the prayer of consecration of the bread and wine. The preface, which alters according to the season, usually concludes with words describing the praise of the worshippers joining with the angels, who are pictured as praising God with the words of the Sanctus:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.[1]

It is loosely related to the Trisagion, another invocation sometimes referred to in the West as the Tersanctus (Latin: Thrice Holy).

In the Byzantine Rite, Sanctus is a hymn offered as a response by the choir during the Holy Anaphora.

In the Roman Catholic Church, a partial indulgence was once specifically granted for recitation of the Sanctus prayed once a day together with the Trisagion, with a contrite heart to adore the Holy Trinity.[2] The present Enchiridion Indulgentiarum grants a partial indulgence to Christians who, in carrying out their tasks and undergoing the difficulties of life, raise their minds to God in humble trust, adding, even if only mentally, some pious invocation.[3]


The first part of the Sanctus is adapted from Amidah (18 Benedictions):

Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Adonai Tz'vaot
Melo Kol Haaretz Kevodo.

The text of the second part, beginning with the word Benedictus (Jerusalem, which is in turn based off of the first half of Psalm 118:26.

The Sanctus appears in the Sacramentary of Serapion of Thmuis (the saint died in 360), but may go as far back to Christian liturgy in North Africa in the year 200.[4]

Musical settings

The Sanctus has been set to numerous plainchant melodies, many of which are given in the Roman Missal, and many more composers have set it to polyphonic music, both in single settings and as part of cyclic mass settings.

Accompanying ceremony

In the Tridentine Mass the priest joins his hands while saying the word "Sanctus" and then, bowing, continues to recite the whole of the Sanctus in a lower voice, while a small bell is rung; then, on reaching the words "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini", he stands erect again and makes the Sign of the Cross.[5] He then continues immediately with the Canon of the Mass, while the choir, if there is one, sings the Sanctus, pausing for the Consecration and continuing with the Benedictus part afterwards. As a result of this division, the Sanctus is sometimes called the Sanctus-Benedictus.

In the Mass as revised after the Second Vatican Council, the only ceremony prescribed for the priest is to join his hands. He and the people sing or recite together the whole of the Sanctus, before the priest continues the Eucharistic Prayer.

In English

The Sanctus appears thus in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer (and as set to music by John Merbecke in 1550[6]):

Holy, holy, holy, Lorde God of Hostes:
heaven (& earth) are full of thy glory:
Hosanna, in the highest.
Blessed is he that commeth in the name of the Lorde:
Glory to thee, O lorde in the highest.

In the 1559 BCP it appears without the Benedictus:

Holy, holy, holy, lord god of hostes,
heven and earth are ful of thy glory,
glory be to the, O Lord most hyghe.[7]

English version of some Lutherans:

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.[8]

In 1973 the International Consultation on English Texts (ICET) produced an ecumenical version that at that time was adopted by Catholics, Anglicans and others:

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.[9][10]

Since 2011 the Roman Missal in English has:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
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.[11]

See also


External links

  • Catholic Encyclopedia
  • The Divine Liturgy in Greek
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