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Beginning of the Sanctus on the banner of an angel, Stiftskirche Schlägl (Upper Austria)

Sanctus ( Latin " holy ") is a part of the ordinarium named after its initial word , the fixed chants or prayers within the Christian Lord's Supper liturgy, and therefore also usually part of mass settings. It belongs to the old part of Christian worship and is sung at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer as the community's answer to the prefation (in Lutheran worship immediately before the words of institution ) by all believers, by the choir or alternately.

The wording of the Sanctus

The wording consists of the acclamation of the angels in the calling vision of the prophet Isaiah (6.3 EU ) and a messianic greeting from Ps 118.25f. EU , called by the crowd at the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem ( Mt 21,9  EU ), which is related here to the Eucharistic presence of Christ .

The first part, which goes back to the prophet Isaiah, is also part of the early Christian hymn Te Deum . The three times holy mentioned in Isa 6,3 ( Heb. קדוש קדוש קדוש יהוה צבאות kadosh kadosh kadosh adonai zebaot ) also inspired other early Christian passages: Rev 4, 8, Corinthians letter of Clement of Rome (34.6), the “Passio sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis ” (12.2), the treatise “De Oratione” (3 , 3) by Tertullian. Both the Jewish Kedusha and the Troparion Trishagion have received the triple saint of Isa 6,3, but should not be confused with the Sanctus of the Eucharist.

The official wording for the Sanctus in the Missale Romanum (2002):

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth .
Plenary sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.

The official wording for the Sanctus in the German Missal (1976):

Holy, holy, holy, God, Lord of all powers and powers .
Heaven and earth are filled with your glory.
Hosanna on high.
Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna on high.

In the Lutheran Mass the wording is:

Holy, holy, holy is God, the Lord of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of his glory.
Hosanna on high.
Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna on high.

In the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church there is a small mariological addition.

Holy, holy, holy is God, the Lord of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of his honor.
Hosiana on high.
Blessed be the Son of Mary who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosiana on high.

As part of the mass , the Sanctus was set to music by composers from all eras. The earlier practice of singing the second part of the Sanctus, the Benedictus , only after the institution report no longer corresponds to the renewed understanding of the Catholic liturgy.

The beginnings of the Sanctus

The oldest evidence of the use of the Sanctus in the Christian liturgy is the liturgy of Addai and Mari . The introduction of the Sanctus as a member of the Eucharistic celebration probably came about in the 4th century in the Syrian-Palestinian region or in Egypt. An influence from the Jewish worship service may have played a role. The sources for this are very sparse. By the end of the 4th century at the latest, the Sanctus was a common part of the Eucharistic celebration in Eastern Christianity. The oldest clear textual evidence for the Sanctus of the Eucharistic celebration are the Euchologion Serapionis in Egypt, the Apostolic Constitutions from the Antiochene catchment area, the Mystagogical Catechesis of Jerusalem and the sermons of John Chrysostom . The pseudo-Ambrosian script "Libellus de spiritu sancto" (4.2) from around 400 is the oldest evidence of the use of the Sanctus in the celebration of the Eucharist in the West. The Sanctus with the Benedictus qui venit and the Hosanna (Mt 21,9) is first attested in the west by Caesarius of Arles , in the east by Severus of Antioch for the first time .

The meaning of the Sanctus

Above all the authors of the Greek patristic of the 4th and beginning of the 5th century attribute a varied theological meaning to the Sanctus of the Eucharist. So this is the Sanctus

  • a commitment to the Triune God
  • an announcement of the Incarnation of Christ. The expression “Heaven and earth are filled with your glory” was interpreted by several church fathers (John Chrysostom, Theodor of Mopsuestia, Cyril of Alexandria) as a reference to the coming of Christ to earth. With Christ's coming, the earth would be filled with God's glory. Possibly this interpretation led to the introduction of the Sanctus immediately before the institution report.
  • Expression of praise and thanks to God
  • a warning to a morally impeccable ("holy") life
  • an invitation to spiritual ascent
  • a moment of unity between heaven and earth.

Hans Asmussen writes : “Adoration is closely related to the expectation of the world beyond. Because it anticipates this world in faith, insofar as one can speak of such anticipation at all. "

Sanctus and Benedictus in church music

In the polyphonic mass settings since the Middle Ages, the Sanctus with Osanna I was separated from the Benedictus with Osanna II. The Sanctus rang out before the change , the Benedictus after it. At the same time the priest prayed the Canon Missae softly. In the great occidental mass compositions, the Sanctus retained the aspect of participation in the heavenly liturgy, while the Benedictus, the greeting of the Lord present in the figures of bread and wine , was designed as an introverted expression of the Eucharistic mystery , especially in the 18th and 19th centuries .

See also


  • Robert Hayward, Andrew Louth:  Sanctus . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 30, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1999, ISBN 3-11-016243-1 , pp. 20-29.
  • Pius Maurer: Sanctus interpretations in works of the Greek patristic (= Liturgica Oenipontana , Vol. 4). Lit, Vienna / Berlin / Münster 2011, ISBN 978-3-8258-1979-8 .
  • Bryan D. Spinks: The Sanctus in the Eucharistic Prayer . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1991, ISBN 0-521-39307-8 .
  • Robert F. Taft: The Interpolation of the Sanctus into the Anaphora: When and Where? A Review of the Dossier. In: Orientalia Christiana Periodica , Vol. 57 (1991) pp. 281-308 and Vol. 58 (1992), pp. 83-121.

Web links

Commons : Sanctus  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Robert Hayward: Art. Sanctus , Part 1: Old Testament and Jewish . In: TRE, vol. 30, p. 24.
  2. Praise to God 588.4.
  3. Evangelical hymn book 185.1.
  4. a b Andrew Louth: Art. Sanctus , Part 2: Christian . In: TRE, Vol. 30, pp. 25-29, here 27.
  5. compare Maurer, p. 15.
  6. compare Maurer, pp. 260 and 265.
  7. Hans Asmussen: Gottesdienstlehre , Vol. 1: The doctrine of worship . Kaiser Verlag, Munich 1937, p. 281.
  8. ^ Sanctus - Benedictus on the website of the Missa Mediaevalis research project at the University of Münster.