Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ........... painting by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Hymns of the Middle Ages: The Sanctus

As I have said before, the one piece of the Charlotte Mason education that I have neglected in the past in the learning of hymns and folk songs. Her students learned a folk song and a hymn each month. Now that I have put into place a folk song, it was time I picked a hymn.

"Perhaps we do not attach enough importance to the habit of praise in our children’s devotion. Praise and thanksgiving come freely from the young heart; gladness is natural and holy, and music is a delight. The singing of hymns at home and of the hymns and canticles in church should be a special delight; and the habit of soft and reverent singing, of offering our very best in praise, should be carefully formed. But the duty of praise is not for occasional or rare seasons; it waits at our doors every day." –Charlotte Mason

Besides listening to and learning the words to hymns, the make wonderful copywork and recitation selections. Since we are looking at the Middle Ages, I thought we would look at some from that period. My first selection in The Sanctus.


The Sanctus (Latin: Holy) is a hymn from liturgy, forming part of the ordinary of the Mass. It is sung (or said) as the final words of the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer, the prayer of consecration of the bread and wine. The preface, which alters according to the season, usually concludes with words describing the praise of the worshippers joining with the angels, who are pictured as praising God with the words of the Sanctus:

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

The Sanctus has been set to numerous plainchant melodies, many of which are given in the Roman Missal, and many more composers have set it to more complex music. It constitutes a part of any mass.

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