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The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia


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The Benedicite is taken from the Apocryphal Book of "The Song of the Three Children" and has been used from very ancient times as a hymn in Christian Worship. St. Chrysostom, A.D. 425, spoke of it as "that wonderful and marvelous song which from that day to this has been sung everywhere throughout the world, and shall yet be sung by future generations." An analysis of this hymn shows it to be not simply a haphazard enumeration of the "works of the Lord," but a fine grouping of them in classes to which they belong. The Prelude, contained in the first verse, is a call to all the works of the Lord to "praise Him and magnify Him forever." Then beginning with the angels as God's ministers we find four great divisions or classifications as follows:

I. The Heavens, verses 2 to 8.

II. Mid Air, verses 8 to 18.

III. The Earth, verses 18 to 26.

IV. All Mankind, from verse 26 to the end; this last division being a call to mankind in general—the people of Israel, Priests and servants of the Lord, Spirits and Souls of the Righteous, and all "holy and humble men of heart," to praise the Lord and magnify Him forever,—followed in Christian Worship by the Gloria Patri, as an act of high praise of the holy, blessed and adorable Trinity, made known to us by the Revelation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Benedicite was first placed in the English Prayer Book in the year 1549, to be sung as an alternate to the Te Deum. It is usually sung during Advent and Lent.

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Benedicite'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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