Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei is a Latin term meaning "Lamb of God", and was originally used to refer to Jesus Christ in his role of the perfect sacrificial offering that atones for the sins of humanity in Christian theology, harkening back to ancient Jewish Temple sacrifices. See Lamb of God for an explanation of this. "Agnus Dei" is used to refer to several things related to this imagery.

Art and sacramental

In ecclesiastical art, an Agnus Dei is a visual representation of Jesus as a lamb holding a cross. The cross normally rests on the lamb's shoulder and is held in its right foreleg. Often the cross will have a white banner suspended from it charged with a red cross (similar to St George's Cross), though the cross may also be rendered in different colours. Sometimes the lamb is shown lying atop a book with seven seals hanging from it. This is a reference to the imagery in the Book of Revelation , , when displaying the consecrated Host (or the Host and Chalice) to the people before giving them Holy Communion. He says: "Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi. (Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world.)Happy are they who are called to His Supper."

Famous composers have set to at times elaborate music this part of the Ordinary of the Mass.

The Agnus Dei chant also appears in the Eucharistic liturgies of other Communions. Lutherans and (usually) Anglicans almost always use it prior to or at the beginning of the administration of Holy Communion. Lutheran celebrants will often genuflect at the beginning of the three phrases.

In the Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church, the Agnus Dei is listed (along with Pascha Nostrum) as one of several Fraction Anthems that may be used at the breaking of the bread.


This liturgical text has been set to music by many composers, usually as part of a Mass setting, but sometimes it stands alone, e.g. it is the lyrics for the choral arrangement of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.

Agnus Dei is also the name of several other songs, which may not have the traditional words:
*The atmospheric opening piece from Elliot Goldenthal's Alien³ score.
*The instrumental music played during the evacuation scene in Oliver Stone's Platoon.
* It was also sampled by Puff Daddy for the intro on his album No Way Out.
*A song on Rufus Wainwright's "Want Two" album.
*A contemporary Christian praise song written by Michael W. Smith first released on his 1990 CD "Go West Young Man". Later Smith performed it on his 2001 CD "Worship". The song was subsequently covered by Third Day on their 2000 CD "". Donnie McClurkin has recorded a rendition of the song on his 2005 CD entitled "Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs". However, the text of this version does not bear any resemblance to the original historical texts.
*Contemporary Christian musician Rich Mullins modeled the first half of his 1993 CD "A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band" after an orthodox liturgy. The song "Peace (A Communion Blessing from St. Joseph's Square)" relates to this part of the liturgy.
*Ross Parsley performed Agnus Dei on the album "Above All Worship", produced by Integrity's Hosanna Music in 2002. The same song was also re-released on the album "Real Men Worship", also produced by Integrity. Lyrics written by Michael W. Smith.
*The name of an instrumental produced by Asaki for Drummania 9/Guitar Freaks 10.
*The name of a song by Mylene Farmer.
*The name of a song by Funeral Mist.
*The name of a CD single produced by Janus.
*The group Bel Canto set the "Agnus Dei" to music on the holiday compilation CD "Winter, Fire & Snow".
*Guy Gross set a version of "Agnus Dei" to music in a funeral scene in the tv series Farscape.
*A song track from the Namco videogame Ace Combat 04 (specifically, the background music for the final mission, "Megalith"). This rendition of Agnus Dei is properly called "Megalith-Agnus Dei" and features a 4-part chorus arrangement and a mix of classical and techno elements.
*A track on the Michael Garrick Jazz Orchestra album "Yet Another Spring".
*The boys' choir Libera also did their own variation on the piece "Agnus Dei"
*Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "Agnus Dei" from their "Liberator" album.
*Sung by choir during pivotal scenes in the best-selling PC game Homeworld.
*Act 5 of John Rutter's Requiem
*Choral work by Morten Lauridsen Paul Salamunovich, Conductor Los Angeles Master Chorale
*The Agnus Dei is heard at parts throughout the film Jose Rizal. Its music is composed by Nonong Buencamino, and chanted by a choir composed of tenors and basses.
*The newly found choir boy Andrew Johnston, has done his very own rendition of Angus Dei on his Debut album "One Voice"


* [ St Leonards Church, Speeton] Has a fine example of a carved Norman Agnus Dei

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  • Agnus Dei — ● Agnus Dei nom masculin invariable (mots latins signifiant agneau de Dieu) Triple invocation de la messe, qui commence par ces mots. Dernière des cinq pièces constituant l ordinaire de la messe. (À l énoncé exécuté par le chantre ou le chœur… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Agnus Dei — Darstellung auf einem romanischen Türsturz von St. Remigius (Ingelheim) Agnus Dei (lat. Lamm Gottes, oder altgriechisch Ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ (Amnòs tou Theou)) ist ein seit ältester Zeit im Christentum verbreitetes Symbol für Jesus Christus. Als… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Agnus dei — Darstellung auf einem romanischen Türsturz von St. Remigius (Ingelheim) Agnus Dei (lat. Lamm Gottes, oder griechisch amnòs tὔ theὔ) ist ein seit ältester Zeit im Christentum verbreitetes Symbol für Jesus Christus. Als Osterlamm, gekennzeichnet… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Agnus Dei — • The name given to certain discs of wax impressed with the figure of a lamb and blessed at stated seasons by the Pope Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Agnus Dei     Agnus Dei   …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Agnus Dei — Agnus Dei. In der katholischen Kirche fängt sich ein lateinisches Gebet mit den Worten an: Agnus Dei, d. h. das Lamm Gottes. Zu Folge der Anfangsworte hat man das ganze Gebet so genannt. – Auch weiht und vertheilt der Papst rund geformte… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • agnus dei — Agnus Dei. ou Agnus. s. m. Le g moüille. C est une cire beniste par le Pape, sur laquelle est imprimée la figure d un agneau ou quelque autre image de pieté. Un bel agnus. on donne des agnus aux petits escoliers qui disent bien leur leçon …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Agnus Dei — Ag nus De i [L., lamb of God.] (R. C. Ch.) (a) A figure of a lamb bearing a cross or flag. (b) A cake of wax stamped with such a figure. It is made from the remains of the paschal candles and blessed by the Pope. (c) A triple prayer in the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Agnus Dei — [äg′noos dā′ē΄, ag′nəsdē′ī΄, än′yo͞os΄dma′ē΄; äg′noos dē′ī΄, ag′nəs dē′ī, än′yo͞osdē′ī΄] n. [L, Lamb of God] 1. a representation of Christ as a lamb, often holding a cross or flag 2. R.C.Ch. a) a little wax disk with a lamb pictured on it,… …   English World dictionary

  • Agnus Dei — d.h. Lamm Gottes, wie Johannes der Täufer Christum nannte. Diese Worte werden seit Papst Sergius, also dem 7. Jahrh., von dem Priester in der Messe gesprochen und von dem Chore gesungen. 2. Wächserne Lammbilder, welche aus dem übrig gebliebenen… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Agnus Dei — (Lamm Gottes), 1) (Gotteslämmchen), länglichrunde Platten von weißem Wachs (auch von Oblatenteig u. Silber), auf deren einer Seite ein Lamm mit der Kreuzfahne, auf der andern das Bild eines Heiligen abgedruckt ist, u. die von den übriggebliebenen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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