Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Benedictus qui venit - A teaching note for April 19, 2015


Some people may have noticed while following the liturgy that there is a phrase said or sung after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy Holy), that is not printed in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (page 77).  This phrase, “Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord: Hosanna in the Highest.”, is also known by its Latin name, the Benedictus qui venit.
First appearing in the 4th century, both the Sanctus and the Benedictus qui venit have been the introductory song to the Eucharistic Canon.  The Sanctus is the phrase that has always been used to describe how the angels worship God (see the Book of Revelation), and the Benedictus qui venit echos the shout of those who greeted Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
In our Anglican Tradition, the first Book of Common Prayer, published in England in 1549, contained both the Sanctus and Benedictus qui venit.  The more radically reformed version of 1552 omits the Benedictus qui venit, but it found its way back into the English Prayer Book of 1662.
The American Prayer Books have followed the Scottish tradition of omitting it in the text, but more often than not using it during the liturgy.  Most great liturgical musical settings for the Holy Communion contain music for the Sanctus and Benedictus qui venit to be sung together.  Our 1940 Hymnal is further proof of the actual practice of the parishes since they contain the musical settings for the Benedictus qui venit even though the text is not contained in the Prayer Book issued just 12 years earlier!
Just after joining the angels in proclaiming Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts: Heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord most high… lift up your voices and proclaim in welcome and thanksgiving the coming of the Eucharistic King, just as the people did in welcoming Jesus on Palm Sunday.  Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the Highest!