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date: 06 December 2019

Agnus Deilocked

  • Richard L. Crocker
  • , revised by David Hiley

Extract

Acclamation of the Latin Mass, sung between the Fraction and the communion antiphon. Since the text does not change from day to day (except for the Mass for the Dead), the Agnus Dei is counted as part of the Ordinary of the Mass. Many chant settings were made between the 11th and 16th centuries. Some of the most widely used were included in the Liber usualis.

Apart from the Credo, the Agnus Dei is the most recent of the acclamations of the Latin Mass, and in some respects the least firmly entrenched. It seems to have been added to the Mass as a confractorium (or chant to accompany the breaking of the bread) late in the 7th century, perhaps by Pope Sergius I. The text itself is from John i.29: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’; but the specific association of the sacrificial lamb with Christ in the Eucharist and on the altar seems to be characteristic of Syrian practice of the early centuries. In any case, the direct address to the Son, found here as well as in ‘Christe eleison’ and in the christological portion of the Gloria in excelsis, contrasts with the Roman habit of addressing only God the Father in prayers of the Mass. Other rites (Ambrosian, Mozarabic), however, had other ...

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