Sanctus

This familiar hymn, commonly referred to by its Latin name, Sanctus, is sung at every Mass.

Holy, Holy, Holy. Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

This song has its origin in a vision of heavenly worship witness by the Prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah sees God on his throne with the six-winged seraphim surrounding him. The seraphim continually sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory.”

You will notice that this hymn follows the call to worship, “With angels, archangels, saints and all the heavenly hosts we sing…” So, in this hymn we are actually joining the heavenly chorus, singing the same hymn as all of heaven in constant praise of God. In that heavenly chorus are the angels, archangels, saints, and our loved ones who have preceded us into heaven. It is a chance for each of us to join a sing-along with those we now miss on earth.

The song is reprised in the Book of Revelation. Here the seraphim sing to Jesus, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” When they sing this chorus, the 24 elders, representing all the saints from the Old and New Testaments, bow down. They lay their crowns at the feet of Jesus and cry out, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you crated all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” That is why the priest normally profoundly bows during the Sanctus.

All present should remember that in this moment of worship we are laying at the feet of Jesus all that we are and all that we have. He is the source of our life and our being. We have nothing without him, so we give all to him. He alone is worthy to receive our gift. We give him our brokenness. We give him our doubts and confusion. We give him our failures. And we give him our successes and triumphs. For “the whole earth is full of his glory,” and the little glories we experience from time to time come from Him and return to him.

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