The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Blessed Be The Lord God Of Israel

The Benedictus

An Anthem for the Nativity of St. Luke, Chap I. Ver. 68;
or instead of Jubilate Deo in the Morning Service.

Words: Abridged From the Book of Common Prayer (1662), Based on Luke 1:68-79.

Music: William Knapp

Source: William Knapp, ed., New Church Melody: Being a Set of Anthems, Psalms, Hymns, &c. on Various Occasions. In Four Parts with a Great Variety of other Anthems, Psalms, Hymns, &c. Composed after a Method Entirely New, and Never Printed Before. Fifth Edition. (London: R. Baldwin, S. Crowder, et al., 1753, 1764), p. 171-180.

Blessed be the Lord god of Israel,
for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us
in the house of his servant David;
that we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all that hate us;
that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies
might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him,
all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called
the Prophet of the Highest;
to give knowledge of salvation unto his people
for the remission of their sins;
through the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
to give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Sheet Music from William Knapp, ed., New Church Melody. Fifth Edition. (1764), p. 171-180.

Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-171.jpg (99574 bytes) Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-172.jpg (106461 bytes) Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-173.jpg (102999 bytes) Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-174.jpg (104314 bytes) Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-175.jpg (104195 bytes)

Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-176.jpg (109176 bytes) Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-177.jpg (102014 bytes) Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-178.jpg (106721 bytes) Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-179.jpg (82732 bytes) Blessed_Be_The_Lord-Knapp-New_Ch_Melody-5th-180.jpg (102079 bytes)

Sheet Music from N. Brady and N. Tate, A New Version of the Psalms of David Fitted to the Tunes used in Churches. With Supplement. (London: J. Ilive, 1733)
A Supplement to the New Version of the Psalms by Dr. Brady and Mr. Tate. 8th Edition, Corrected. (Savoy: E. and R. Nutt, 1724).

According to Josiah Miller, the first Supplement of Church Hymns appeared in 1703. Source: Singers and Songs of the Church (Longmans, Green, 1869), pp. 111-112.

Hymn tune: Benedictus, p. 51

Benedictus-p51.jpg (83670 bytes)

Hymn tune: St. Matthew's Tune, p. 12

St_Matthews_Tune-p12.jpg (73907 bytes)

Tate&Brady-New_Ver_Psalms_David-1733-Title_Page.jpg (52513 bytes) Supplement-Title_Page.jpg (65012 bytes)


The Canticle of Zacharias is one of three Canticles or Songs in the Gospel of Luke. The other two are the Magnificat of Mary (Luke 1: 46-55) and the Nunc dimittis of Simeon (Luke 2: 29-32).

From John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907):

Benedictus. Translations into English of this Song of Zacharias (St. Luke i., 68-79) are given in the various versions of the Holy Scripture, those best known being the Prayer Book version in the Morning Prayer, the Authorized Version of 1611 [the King James Version], and the Revised Version of 1881. In addition there are metrical renderings in the form of hymns in the Old Version of Sternhold and Hopkins; the New Version of Tate and Brady, and the following:—
(1) Drayton's Harmony of the Church, 1591;
(2) G. Wither's Hymns and Songs of the Church, 1623-31;
(3) G. Sandys's Paraphrases on the Psalms, 1636;
(4) Simon Ford's Psalms of David, 1688;
(5) Bishop Patrick's Psalms of David in Metre, 2nd edition, 1695.

From Wither's Hymns and Songs of the Church, 1623

benedictus-wither-songs-1623-song33.jpg (86545 bytes)

The Benedictus also appeared in the first Prayer Book of King Edward VI in 1549, considered the first edition of The Book of Common Prayer. This was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English, including the Morning Prayer. See Book of Common Prayer (Wikipedia).

Benedictus from the Morning Prayer, the first Prayer Book of King Edward VI (1549)

Benedictus-1549-31-chur_2.jpg (92792 bytes) Benedictus-1549-32-chur_2.jpg (78205 bytes)

Book_Common_Prayer-1549-Title_Page-chur_2.jpg (76186 bytes)

The Hymnary reports that this antiphon/hymn is published in 243 hymnals! See: Blessed Be The Lord God of Israel-Chant. There is a large number of settings of the Benedictus at ChoralWiki (CPDL), in both Latin and English: Benedictus Deus Israel.

The Latin title of Benedictus comes from the first words of the song in Latin, Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel, which translates to “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.”

Free sheet music is available for this piece for non-commercial use from Roding Music, both vocals and vocals with keyboard. The Christmas Carols page has links to this and other carols sung in the West Galley tradition.

See Generally:

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.

Related Hymns and Carols