A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Benedictus

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BENEDICTUS, the song of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, taken from Luke i., is the canticle appointed, alternately with the Jubilate, to follow the lessons in the Morning Service of the Anglican Church. It has occupied that position from ancient times, being mentioned by Amalarius († 837) as following the lessons at Lauds. It followed the lessons in the ancient English offices, and was retained by Cranmer in his English Liturgy in 1549, at first without the Jubilate, which was added in 1582 to obviate repetition when the Benedictus occurred in the gospel or second lesson. Two chants are given for it by Marbeck in 'The Book of Common Prayer Noted,' of 1550, viz. the 5th tone with 1st ending, and the 8th tone with 1st ending. It is admirably adapted to more elaborate forms of composition, and there are two well-known ancient settings by Tallis and Gibbons.

The same canticle is also used by the Roman Church, and is mentioned by Mendelssohn in his letter to Zelter describing the music of Holy Week. But a different 'Benedictus,' which is better known to musicians, is that which occurs in the service of the Mass, after the Sanctus, which has been the occasion for much famous and beautiful music by the greatest masters; the whole words of which are only 'Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.'