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date: 26 January 2020

Credo (Lat.; Eng. ‘Creed’)locked

  • Richard L. Crocker
  • , revised by David Hiley


(Lat.; Eng. ‘Creed’)

Affirmation of Christian belief, sung as part of the Latin Mass between the Gospel and the Offertory. Three Latin Creeds have come down to us (‘Apostles'’, ‘Nicene’, ‘Athanasian’), but the history of the texts is complex; the one used at Mass is that usually called ‘Nicene’.

The original liturgical use of the Credo was at baptism, at a time when the articles of faith were delivered to the catechumens as part of their reception into the Church. (The use of the first person, ‘I believe’, is ascribed to these circumstances, for the phrase seems inappropriate to a communal affirmation at Mass.) The baptismal use of the Credo, or Symbolum as it was called in this function, lasted throughout the Middle Ages, and was incidentally responsible for the persistence of a Greek text in Latin manuscripts representing practices in northern France and Germany.

The Credo, in the so-called ‘Nicene’ (or ‘Nicea-Constantinople’) version (so called because it sums up the doctrines agreed at the Councils of Nicea, 325, and Constantinople, 381), was introduced into the eucharistic liturgy in the east early in the 6th century and soon afterwards into the Visigothic rite by the Council of Toledo (589). In both cases its introduction occurred in the wake of doctrinal controversies, and with the intent of clarifying the belief to be shared by all participating in the Eucharist. Furthermore, in neither case was the Credo placed at its received position after the Gospel; in the Visigothic rite it preceded the ...

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