Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei

[ag-nuhs dee-ahy, de-ee; ah-nyoos de-ee]
noun
1.
Ecclesiastical.
a.
a figure of a lamb as emblematic of Christ.
b.
such a representation with the nimbus inscribed with the cross about its head, and supporting the banner of the cross.
2.
a prayer addressed to Christ as Savior preceding the communion in the Mass.
3.
a musical setting of this prayer.

Origin:
< Latin: lamb of God

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Agnus Dei (ˈæɡnʊs ˈdeɪɪ)
 
n
1.  the figure of a lamb bearing a cross or banner, emblematic of Christ
2.  a chant beginning with these words or a translation of them, forming part of the Roman Catholic Mass or sung as an anthem in the Anglican liturgy
3.  a wax medallion stamped with a lamb as emblem of Christ and blessed by the pope
 
[Latin: Lamb of God]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

agnus dei

designation of Jesus Christ in Christian liturgical usage. It is based on the saying of John the Baptist: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). In the Roman Catholic liturgy the Agnus Dei is employed in the following text: "Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us! Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us! Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace!" It comes between the Lord's Prayer and the Communion and sounds the themes of sacrifice and of adoration. Thus, it unites the sacrifice of the liturgy to the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross as the Lamb of God and calls to mind the sacrifice of the lamb in the cultus of the Old Testament. Both Anglican and Lutheran liturgies have retained the Agnus Dei in their eucharistic rites. It also appears as part of many of the litanies.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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