Agnus Dei (music)

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13th century carved Agnus Dei in ivory, Louvre.

Agnus Dei, referring to the Christian theological concept the Lamb of God, and the associated liturgical text from the Roman Catholic Latin Mass has been set to music by many composers, as it is normally one of the movements or sections in a sung Mass setting.[1][2] However, sometimes it stands alone, e.g., it provides the lyrics for Agnus Dei, the choral arrangement of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.

Based upon John the Baptist's reference in John 1:29 to Jesus ("Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world"), the text in Latin is:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

which means:

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

The text is also part of the use of Agnus Dei in liturgy.

Examples[edit]

Agnus Dei from Schubert's Mass No. 2

Some examples from full mass settings include:

Samuel Barber arranged his Adagio for Strings as Agnus Dei

Elliot Goldenthal used the text in the score for Alien 3

Michael W. Smith recorded it as a Contemporary Christian worship song in 1990.

An arrangement, Megalith-Agnus Dei, was used in the game Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies on the final mission called Megalith.

In the Assassin's Creed series, Elitsa Alexandrova used it in the Ubisoft's 2014 video game Assassin's Creed Rogue.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Harvard dictionary of music by Don Michael Randel 2003 ISBN 0-674-01163-5 page 28
  2. ^ The earliest settings of the Agnus Dei and its tropes by Charles Mercer Atkinson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1975 page 14