(Lat. Lamb of God). 1. A prayer to Christ that occurs 3 times in the rite of the W. Ch. It is first sung in the Gloria in excelsis (with the additional address Son of the Father inserted after O Lamb of God). Since the 7th c. it has been sung after the consecration as a prayer to Christ present in His body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. Since the 10th and 11th cents.. it was sung 3 times, with grant us Thy peace replacing the 3d have mercy upon us, the latter change perhaps in accommodation to giving the kiss* of peace at this point or to the calamities the ch. was suffering. In the 11th c. the words grant them peace came to be used in RC requiems* as the 2d part of each line, with the 3d petition ending everlasting peace. In line with their denial of the sacramental* union the later Eng. reformers omitted the Agnus Dei from the Communion rite in the 1552 and later eds. of the Book* of Common Prayer. It was restored in the 1929 Scottish Liturgy but not in the 1928 American Book. The opening words O Christ in the Luth. rite are not an integral part of the prayer but were added 1528 in J. Bugenhagen's* Brunswick ch. order perhaps partly to meet the demands of the musical setting.
2. In Christian art, a representation of Christ as a lamb. Forms include a lamb lying (signifying suffering), in some cases on the Book of Seven Seals; standing and holding a white (symbolizing innocence) Banner of Victory (sometimes the banner is in the form of a pennant, and sometimes it bears a black or, if the symbol is in color, red cross) attached to a cruciform staff; standing on a hill from which flow 4 rivers (of Paradise, or signifying the 4 Gospels); in the center of a cross, with symbols of the 4 Evangelists at the ends of the 4 arms of the cross; standing, sometimes simply with a chalice, sometimes wounded, holding a cruciform staff and with blood flowing from its body, in some cases into a chalice; resting on a manger, representing the infant Jesus. A 3-ray nimbus* indicates that it is a symbol of God. Scripture background: Gn 2:10; 14; Ex 12; Is 53:67; Jn 1:29, 36; 1 Co 5:7; Rv 5.
3. In RCm, a sacramental* (in the derived sense) in the form of a molded wax medallion with the figure of a lamb; the pope blesses it in the 1st yr. of his pontificate and at 7-yr. intervals thereafter. The custom is variously dated from the 4th to the 14th cents.
4. In E Orthodox chs., a cloth embroidered with the figure of a lamb and used to cover the chalice in Communion.
5. In Anglicanism, an anthem or liturgical prayer beginning (O) Lamb of God. ACP, LP
See also Ambrosian Music.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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