Agnus Dei (music)

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13th century carved Agnus Dei in ivory, Louvre.

Agnus Dei, referring to the Christian theological concept of 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.

Text[edit]

The Agnus Dei is a setting of the "Lamb of God" litany, based on John the Baptist's reference in John 1:29 to Jesus ("Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world"):

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
miserere nobis.
have mercy upon us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
miserere nobis.
have mercy upon us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
dona nobis pacem.
grant us peace.

In a Requiem Mass, the words "miserere nobis" are replaced by "dona eis requiem" (grant them rest), while "dona nobis pacem" is replaced by "dona eis requiem sempiternam" (grant them eternal rest).

Examples[edit]

Agnus Dei from Schubert's Mass No. 2

Some examples from full mass settings include:

Further examples are too numerous to name, as virtually every setting of the Mass Ordinary or Proper (of which there are thousands) includes an Agnus Dei. The text has also been used by composers for arrangements in popular culture, including:

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