O Christ, the Lamb of God

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

God’s children are not called to come before God’s throne with a list of accomplishments, or merits or goodness; they are called, says Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 26, to come with the humility that “…offers nothing but our need for mercy.” Such a cry for mercy comes from our “dying-away of the old self” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 88) which expresses that we are “genuinely sorry for our sin and more and more…hate and run away from it” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 33, Question and Answer 89).

The gifts of renewal and pardon come only “through true faith” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 20) and are “gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merits” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7, Question and Answer 21). The very act of faith is to plead for his mercy.

Additional Prayers

A Prayer for Mercy
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners. O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners and grant us your peace. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Tune Information

F Major or modal

Hymn Story/Background

The Agnus Dei (Latin for “Lamb of God”) is an ancient church text that developed from John the Baptist's salutation of Christ: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1 :29; Isa. 53:7; Rev. 5:6-14). By the late seventh century this Latin text was introduced into the Roman Catholic Mass at a point just prior to the reception of communion. In the tenth century the Agnus Dei's third section was changed to its present wording, "dona nobis pacem" ("grant us peace").
The translation of the text into German included the uniquely Lutheran addition of "Christe" to the beginning of each clause. This translation was first published in Low German in 1528 in Johannes Bugenhagen's manual Der Erbarn Stadt Brunswig Christlike Ordeninge. The English is an adaptation of the Lutheran text mixed with a translation provided by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy, a Roman Catholic group that has been active ever since Vatican II (1962-65). In any language the text is a profound but short prayer for mercy and peace.
The chorale tune CHRISTE, DU LAMM GOTTES was published as the setting for the Agnus Dei in Bugenhagen's 1528 manual. The tune name comes from the opening words in the German text. Ulrich S. Leupold, editor of Martin Luther's hymns and liturgies (vol. 53 of Luther's Works, 1965), suggests that Luther may be the tune's arranger. It seems to derive from a Kyrie melody (Gregorian Tone 1) that Luther used in his German Mass of 1526.
The 1984 arrangement is by Dale Grotenhuis, who modeled it after a setting by Carl Hirsch (1858-1918) published in Redeeming Love (rev. ed., Concordia, 1963), a collection of Lenten and funeral music. Grotenhuis's arrangement is a fine antiphonal setting of the historic text. The first and second sections are for two-part singing by women and men, respectively; the final section is for everyone in four-part harmony. The hymn concludes with an "Amen" set to a beautiful though challenging melisma.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Dale Grotenhuis (b. Cedar Grove, WI, 1931; d. Jenison, Mi, August 17, 2012) was a member of the 1987 Psalter Hymnal 1987 Revision Committee, and was professor of music and director of choral music at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa, from 1960 until he retired in 1994 to concentrate on composition. Educated at Calvin College; Michigan State University, Lansing; and Ohio State University, Columbus; he combined teaching with composition throughout his career and was a widely published composer of choral music. He also directed the Dordt choir in a large number of recordings, including many psalm arrangements found in the 1959 edition of the Psalter Hymnal.
— Bert Polman
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.