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date: 23 August 2019


  • Richard L. Crocker
  • , revised by David Hiley


An acclamation of the Latin Mass, sung by choir or congregation at the conclusion of the Preface, just before the Canon, as the musical item most closely associated with the eucharistic phase of the Mass. Since the text of the Sanctus does not change from day to day, it is counted as part of the Ordinary of the Mass. Numerous melodies were composed from the 10th century onwards; a selection of these is contained in the Liber usualis, Masses I to XVIII, together with three ad libitum melodies.

The Sanctus text is the oldest of the acclamations of the Mass, even though it seems to have been added to the Eucharistic Prayer some time between the 1st century and the 5th. It functions as a conclusion for, and people’s response to, the Preface (sung by the celebrant), a rehearsal of God’s acts with particular emphasis on those for which thanks are to be rendered on a given occasion. In the early centuries (at least until 800), the Sanctus was sung by everyone, clergy and people, as a terrestrial analogue of the celestial praises of Cherubim and Seraphim described in ...

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