For the music for the First Communion Mass this Sunday, see the next article below. This is my monthly post for the Latin and Church Music class for Providence Homeschoolers. I go and try teach things and have this page as further reading/listening for anyone interested.

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui vent in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.

New translation:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

The words are biblical:

Isaiah 6:3
A glorious vision, in which the prophet’s lips are cleansed: he foretelleth the obstinacy of the Jews.
[1] In the year that king Ozias died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated: and his train filled the temple. [2] Upon it stood the seraphims: the one had six wings, and the other had six wings: with two they covered his face, and with two they covered his feet, and with two they hew. [3] And they cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of his glory. [4] And the lintels of the doors were moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. [5] And I said: Woe is me, because I have held my peace; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people that hath unclean lips, and I have seen with my eyes the King the Lord of hosts.

I’ll quote at length from John’s Revelation aka. the Apocalypse,

Revelation 4:8
The vision of the throne of God, the twenty-four ancients and the four living creatures.
[1] After these things I looked, and behold a door was opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard, as it were, of a trumpet speaking with me, said: Come up hither, and I will shew thee the things which must be done hereafter. [2] And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne one sitting. [3] And he that sat, was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine stone; and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. [4] And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats, four and twenty ancients sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads were crowns of gold. [5] And from the throne proceeded lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.
[6] And in the sight of the throne was, as it were, a sea of glass like to crystal; and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures, full of eyes before and behind. [7] And the first living creature was like a lion: and the second living creature like a calf: and the third living creature, having the face, as it were, of a man: and the fourth living creature was like an eagle flying. [8] And the four living creatures had each of them six wings; and round about and within they are full of eyes. And they rested not day and night, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come. [9] And when those living creatures gave glory, and honour, and benediction to him that sitteth on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever; [10] The four and twenty ancients fell down before him that sitteth on the throne, and adored him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
[11] Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power: because thou hast created all things; and for thy will they were, and have been created.

Dr Scott Hahn describes how the ceremony the evangelist John witnessed in that vision parallels the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We’re singing the Sanctus along with the Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim (just like Fr says in the Preface)

And the last part comes from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which in turn mirrors the traditions of the Kings of Israel.

Matthew 21:9
[6] And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. [7] And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon. [8] And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way: [9] And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. [10] And when he was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this?

Quotes are from the Douay Rheims Bible thanks to

Now for the vocabulary – much shorter than the list for the Credo!

sanctus – holy
Dominus – Lord
Domini – of the Lord
pleni – full
caeli – heavens
terra – earth
gloria – glory
excelsis – highest
benedictus – blessed
qui – who
venit – he comes
sunt – are
tua – your
nomine – name

Hosanna – shout of praise – literally “save, I pray”
Sabaoth – of hosts/armies

Study up with the Sanctus flashcard set on Quizlet.

Test yourself with the Sanctus crossword.

Now the music part:

Maybe the simplest chant version :

Then the polyphonic version :

(gotta pick this one with Pope Bendict XVI)
William Byrd, English composer living in very turbulent times.
They get through the whole Sanctus here. Some polyphonic arrangements run over time so they split the piece after the first Hosanna in excelsis, have some quiet for the consecration, then pick up where they left with “Benedictus qui venit” while the priest quietly finishes off the prayers of the Canon (or the Eucharistic Prayers). That means some people think of the Benedictus as a separate piece, but it is the second half of the Sanctus.

That’s the confusing thing with a sung Mass is the priest keeps going while the choir is singing so you have a layered effect, which is kinda cool once you get the hang of it.

Lastly to pick a classical piece…

It’s got the famous conductor Herbert Karajan, so it must be good. Not the best recording, but you get the idea – very grand. And looks like its actually at Mass! And Pope Benedict XVI is a big Mozart fan too.