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The towers of the huge Sagrada Família church in Barcelona, Spain are decorated with the words "Sanctus", "Hosanna" and "Excelsis".

The Sanctus (Latin for holy) is a hymn from Christian liturgy, forming part of the ordinary of the mass. In Western Christianity, the Sanctus is sung (or said) as the final words of the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer, the prayer of consecration of the bread and wine. The preface, which alters according to the season, usually concludes with words describing the praise of the worshippers joining with the angels, who are pictured as praising God with the words of the Sanctus:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.[1]

The first part of the Sanctus is adapted from Isaiah 6:3, which describes the prophet Isaiah's vision of the throne of God surrounded by six-winged, ministering seraphim. A similar representation found in Revelation 4:8 appears to be the basis of the Trisagion, with which the Sanctus should not be confused. In Jewish liturgy, the verse from Isaiah is uttered by the congregation during Kedusha, a prayer said during the cantor's repetition of the Amidah (18 Benedictions) before the opening of the ark:

Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Adonai Tz'vaot
Melo Kol Haaretz Kevodo.

The text of the second part, beginning with the word Benedictus (Latin for "Blessed"), is taken from Matthew 21:9, describing Jesus' Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem.

The Sanctus has been set to numerous plainchant melodies, many of which are given in the Roman Missal, and many more composers have set it to more complex music. It constitutes a mandatory part of any mass setting.

In the Tridentine Mass the priest joins his hands while saying the word "Sanctus" and then, bowing, continues to recite the whole of the Sanctus in a lower voice, while a small bell is rung; then, on reaching the words "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini", he stands erect again and makes the Sign of the Cross.[2] He then continues immediately with the Canon of the Mass, while the choir, if there is one, sings the Sanctus, pausing for the Consecration and continuing with the Benedictus part afterwards. As a result of this division, the Sanctus is sometimes called the Sanctus-Benedictus.

In the Mass as revised after the Second Vatican Council, the only ceremony prescribed for the priest is to join his hands. He and the people sing or recite together the whole of the Sanctus, before the priest begins the Eucharistic Prayer.

In the Roman Catholic church, an indulgence of 100 days is associated with the Sanctus when prayed once a day together with the Trisagion, with a contrite heart to adore the Holy Trinity.[3]

Translated versions

1973 International Commission on English in the Liturgy English version

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

English version often found in earlier hand missals

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts:
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

English verson used among Lutherans

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
heaven and earth are full of Your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest.[4]


  1. ^ Missale Romanum 2002, p. 517 (electronic text)
  2. ^ Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, VII, 8
  3. ^ Joseph P. Christopher et al., 2003 The Raccolta St Athanasius Press ISBN 978-0970652669 page 1
  4. ^

External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Perfect passive participle of sanciō (consecrate, appoint as sacred)


sānctus m. (feminine sāncta, neuter sānctum); first/second declension

  1. sacred, made inviolable, having been established as sacred.
  2. venerable, august, divine, blessed, holy, saintly


Number Singular Plural
Case \ Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
nominative sānctus sāncta sānctum sānctī sānctae sāncta
genitive sānctī sānctae sānctī sānctōrum sānctārum sānctōrum
dative sānctō sānctae sānctō sānctīs sānctīs sānctīs
accusative sānctum sānctam sānctum sānctōs sānctās sāncta
ablative sānctō sānctā sānctō sānctīs sānctīs sānctīs
vocative sāncte sāncta sānctum sānctī sānctae sāncta


sānctus (genitive sānctī); m, second declension

  1. A saint; person who lives a holy and virtuous life.
    "Dorothy Day erat sancta viva." (Dorothy Day was a living saint.)
  2. A person who is officially proclaimed as having lived a life of heroic virtue.
    "Kateri Tekawitha sancta proclamata est." (Kateri Tekawitha is proclaimed a saint.)
  3. A title given to (2), usually capitalized, prefixed to the person's name.
    "Sanctus Stephanus Protomartyr"


Number Singular Plural
nominative sānctus sānctī
genitive sānctī sānctōrum
dative sānctō sānctīs
accusative sānctum sānctōs
ablative sānctō sānctīs
vocative sāncte sānctī

Related terms


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