257. O Christ, the Lamb of God

O Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
grant us your peace.


Text Information
First Line: O Christ, the Lamb of God
Title: O Christ, the Lamb of God
Meter: PM
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Songs for Children: Hymns; Confession and Forgiveness; Confession of Sin (5 more...)
Source: Agnus Dei
Tune Information
Harmonizer: Dale Grotenhuis (1984)
Meter: PM
Key: F Major
Source: Kirchenordnung, Braunschweig, 1528
Copyright: Harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. = John 1:29, Matt. 20:30

The Agnus Dei is an ancient church text that developed from John the Baptist's salutation of Christ: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1 :29; Isa. 53:7; Rev. 5:6-14). By the late seventh century this Latin text was introduced into the Roman Catholic Mass at a point just prior to the reception of communion. In the tenth century the Agnus Dei's third clause was changed to its present wording, "dona nobis pacem" ("grant us peace").

The translation of the text into German included the uniquely Lutheran addition of "Christe" to the beginning of each clause. This translation was first published in Low German in 1528 in Johannes Bugenhagen's manual Der Erbarn Stadt Brunswig Christlike Ordeninge. The English version in the Psalter Hymnal is an adaptation of the Lutheran text mixed with a translation provided by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy, a Roman Catholic group that has been active ever since Vatican II (1962-¬65). In any language the text is a profound but short prayer for mercy and peace.

Liturgical Use:
Lord's Supper; Lent, though traditionally used in any season; service of confession and forgiveness.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

The chorale tune CHRISTE, DU LAMM GOTTES was published as the setting for the Agnus Dei in Bugenhagen's 1528 manual. The tune name comes from the opening words in the German text. Ulrich S. Leupold, editor of Martin Luther's hymns and liturgies (vol. 53 of Luther's Works, 1965), suggests that Luther may be the tune's arranger. It seems to derive from a Kyrie melody (Gregorian Tone 1) that Luther used in his German Mass of 1526 (see PHH 258 for information on the Kyrie).

The 1984 arrangement is by Dale Grotenhuis (PHH 4), who modeled it after a setting by Carl Hirsch (1858-1918) published in Redeeming Love (rev. ed., Concordia, 1963), a collection of Lenten and funeral music. Grotenhuis's arrangement is a fine antiphonal setting of the historic text the first and second clauses are for two-part singing by women and men, respectively; the final clause is for everyone in four-part harmony. The hymn concludes with an "Amen" set to a delightfully challenging melisma.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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