Lamb of God

A friend of mine recently liked a video on Facebook of a song that has been stuck in my head ever since. The song in question is Samuel Barber's "Agnus Dei" (take ten minutes and listen here). The lyrics are as follows:

Agnus Dei, Qui tollis peccata mundi, Miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei, Qui tollis peccata mundi, Miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei, Qui tollis peccata mundi, Dona nobis pacem.

Just in case your Latin is rusty, that translates to:

Lamb of God,

Who takes away the sins of the world,

Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,

Who takes away the sins of the world,

Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,

Who takes away the sins of the world,

Grant us peace.

The words come from John the Baptist's cry upon seeing Jesus in John 1:29: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Throughout the rest of the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God. Why a lamb? Because lambs were used in the sin offerings in the law of Moses; moreover, only an unblemished, spotless, perfect lamb could be used as a sacrifice to take away sin. Jesus Christ, through his sacrificial death on the cross on Good Friday, became our sin offering, our Lamb. He was sent from God expressly for that purpose: to take away the sins of the world through his shed blood.

Barber's song -- modeled after the Agnus Dei in the Mass, the time those words are said or sung -- offers a prayer to Christ, to the Lamb of God. It is a cry for salvation, for mercy, and for peace. We all should pray those prayers, for we each need mercy and peace -- but above all, we need salvation, forgiveness of sins which can only be given by Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

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