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Behold the Lamb of God

posted Jan 15, 2011, 7:43 AM by Steven Vaughan
Many composers have written music to the first verse of today’s Gospel, John 1:29...

Behold, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world.


Besides being the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God, that we sing or chant at every Sunday Mass, Breaking Bread has two songs set to it; Martin Willet’s communion song, Behold the Lamb; and one for Good Friday, Behold the Lamb of God by Bob Dufford, SJ.

Behold the Lamb of God is also a collection of songs proclaiming the birth, death and resurrection of Christ by folk singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson, released in 2004.  Each December, he tours the country with fellow musicians performing a live concert version, story-telling songs with his guest artists followed by songs from his Christmas album.  

Matt Maher has become an award winning composer of pop gospel music, and wrote Behold the Lamb of God for Choose Christ 2009, a collection of contemporary Catholic songs.  Also that year, musician/pastor Shawn Starbuck composed Behold the Lamb of God as an Advent tune.  Now Behold the Lamb appears on Kirk Franklin and the Family Christmas album.  Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend’s Behold the Lamb is a powerful, yet reverent description of the act of Holy Communion.

Of course, the most popular choral version is from Handel’s Messiah.  This oratorio is divided into three parts; Part I describing the Advent and Christmas stories and Part III based on the Book of Revelation.   Behold the Lamb of God opens Part II, which chronicles the Passion, Resurrection, Ascension and proclamation of the Christian message.  In 1992, The Yellowjackets, a jazz-fusion quartet, recorded an instrumental version for the critically-acclaimed gospel album Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration.
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