This weekend is Palm Sunday, and launches Holy Week, fast approaching the high point of the liturgical calendar, and an appropriate time to dig into the sacred music I have in my collection.
Music helps provide the right atmosphere, as we use this time for introspection and reflection on the events of Holy Week and Easter, what they mean and what we all need to do personally to prepare ourselves spiritually.
I can’t think of a more appropriate set of words to reflect to than to the words attached to”Lamb of God” (in Latin Agnus Dei). The words appear in the Gospel of John, with the exclamation of John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" in John 1:29 when he sees Jesus. In Christian teachings, Lamb of God refers to Jesus Christ in his role of the perfect sacrificial offering.
In the Mass of the Roman Rite and also in the Eucharist of the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Church, and the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church the Agnus Dei is sung or recited during the fraction of the Host. Agnus Dei has been set to music by many composers, usually as part of a Mass:
Based upon John the Baptist's reference, the text in Latin is:
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. [Lamb of God, you who take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.]
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem. [Lamb of God, you who take away the sin of the world, grant us Peace]
Our podcast this week provides a series of musical settings for the Agnus Dei, most of them taken from masses and Requiem masses penned by several composers, from the Renaissance to the 20th Century – the exception is the setting by Samuel Barber to the melody of his “Adagio for Strings”.
This montage is no longer available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address
Next week, I will post some links to additional material (sacred and secular in nature) that are especially relevant to the Easter vigil (at least, for me…).
I think you will love this music too…
Let me know what you think either by commenting on the blog or by e-mailing me.