Sung Eucharist

Sung Eucharist


The liturgy of the Holy Eucharist has developed over a period of almost two thousand years.  In the early church, persecuted Christians met in each other’s homes and shared stories of Christ in the form of the gospels or letters from church leaders such as Paul.  An important part of these gatherings was the re-enactment of the Lord’s Supper.

The beginning of the fourth century AD marked a new stage in the history of the Church. After centuries of vicious persecution at the direction of the Roman Emperors, an Emperor of Rome became a Christian. This was Constantine the Great, who in the year 313 granted Christians freedom of worship.  After this time, the Church no longer needed to meet in secret, and a common form of worship began to develop.

Why Greek and Latin?

Although Greek was the most widely spoken language for early Christians (the New Testament was written primarily in Greek), Latin later became the lingua franca by virtue of the power of the Roman Empire.  It remained the core language of the liturgy in the West long after the fall of Rome in the fifth century.  During the medieval period the liturgy as we know it today was shaped as a Latin rite, with a small amount of Greek.  While the Reformation in the 16th century saw the widespread translation of the liturgy into the language of the people in Anglican and Protestant churches,  it was only in 1970 that the Tridentine (Latin) Mass was replaced by a version in the vernacular in the Roman Catholic Church.  Today, as a result of ecumenical Consultation on Common Texts, there is general agreement on the structure and wording of the Eucharist in English. Because this wording is based on the original Latin (and in some cases Greek), and because so many composers have set the Latin text to music, the original language as well as English are shown in the material which follows.

Those parts of the Eucharist which are traditionally set to music are often referred to by their (Greek or) Latin names. The set consists of the Kyrie/Trisagion, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, Sursum Corda and Agnus Dei.    While a few Anglican choirs sing these in the original language, most, including our choir and congregation at Saint James’, normally sing these, as well as the Lord’s Prayer, in English. The English wording is taken from the Book of Alternative Services (BAS).


Greek (Kyrie eleison: Lord, have mercy) – Sung in either English or Greek at the start of the Eucharist service as part of the Eucharistic Setting. Usually sung only in Lent and Advent to replace the Gloria. In a nine-fold setting, each line is sung three times.

Greek English
Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy


Greek (Trisagion: Thrice Holy) – Sung in English at the start of the Eucharist service as an alternative to the Kyrie.

Greek English
Agios o Theos,agios ischyros, agios athanatos, eleison imas Holy God, holy and mighty, holy immortal one, have mercy upon us.


Latin (Gloria in excelsis Deo: Glory be to God on high) – Not sung in Lent or Advent.

Latin English
Gloria in excelsis Deoet in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe,Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis;

Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram;

Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.

Quoniam tu solus sanctus.

Tu solus Dominus.

Tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.

Cum Sancto Spiritu,

in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.

Lord God, heavenly king, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.For you alone are the Holy One,you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High,

Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.


Latin (Credo: Creed) – Sung or said (because of its length); normally said at Saint James’. Shown below is the Nicene Creed; the Apostle’s Creed may also be used.

Latin English
Credo in unum Deum,Patrem omnipotentem,factorem coeli et terrae,visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum,Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero.Genitum non factum,consubstantialem Patri;per quem omnia facta sunt.

Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem

descendit ed coelis.

Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto

ex Maria Virgine,

et homo factus est.

Crucificus etiam pro nobis;

sub Pontio Pilato

passus et sepultus est.

Et resurrexit tertia die,

secundam Scripturas.

Et ascendit in coelum:

sedet ad dexteram Patris.

Et iterum venturus est cum Gloria,

judicare vivos et mortuos;

cujus regni non erit finis.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,begotten, not made,of one being with the Father;through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation


he came down from heaven:

by the power of the Holy Spirit


he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified

under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory


to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

Et in Spiritum Sanctum,Dominum et vivicantem;qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.Qui cum Patre et Filiosimul adoratur et conflorificatur;qui locutus est per Prophetas.Et in unam sanctam catholicamet apostolicam Ecclesiam.

Confiteor unum baptisma

in remissionem peccatorum.

Et experto resurrectionem mortuorum.

Et vitam venturi saeculi.


We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.He has spoken through the prophets.We believe in one holy catholicand apostolic Church.


We acknowledge one baptism

for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,


and the life of the world to come.



Latin (Sanctus: Holy) – The Benedictus normally follows immediately after it.

Latin English
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Holy, holy, holy Lord! God of power and might! Heaven and earth are full of your glory! Hosanna in the highest!


Latin (Benedictus: Blessed is He) – It normally follows straight on from the Sanctus.

Latin English
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.Hosanna in excelsis. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

Sursum Corda

Latin (Sursum corda: Lift up your hearts) – Sung prior to the Eucharistic Prayer

Latin English
C. Dominus vobiscum. P. Et cum spiritu tuo. C. Sursum corda .P. Habemus ad Dominum. C. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro. P. Dignum et iustum est. C. The Lord be with you. P. And also with you.C. Lift up your hearts. P. We lift them to the Lord. C. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.P. It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Agnus Dei

Latin (Agnus Dei: Lamb of God) – Sung  just before communion.

Latin English
Agnus Dei,qui tollis peccata mundi,miserere nobis. Lamb of God,you take away the sin of the world,have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei,qui tollis peccata mundi,miserere nobis. Lamb of God,you take away the sin of the world,have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei,qui tollis peccata mundi,dona nobis pacem. Lamb of God,you take away the sin of the world,grant us peace.


Anglican Church Music, Trisagion (Wikipedia), Book of Alternative Services (Canada)