from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A hymn of praise sung at the end of the Preface in many Eucharistic liturgies.
  • n. A hymn of praise that is the last item of the Preface of the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Mass.
  • n. A musical setting for either of these hymns of praise.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • proper n. A hymn from Christian liturgy, loosely related to the Trisagion.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A part of the Mass, or, in Protestant churches, a part of the communion service, of which the first words in Latin are Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus [Holy, holy, holy]; -- called also Tersanctus.
  • n. An anthem composed for these words.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In liturgics, the ascription “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, …” in which the eucharistic preface culminates, and which leads up to the canon or prayer of consecration.
  • n. A musical setting of the above ascription or hymn.


Middle English, from Late Latin Sānctus, from Latin sānctus, holy (from the first word of the hymn); see sanctify.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin sanctus (Wiktionary)


  • From the Latin word Sanctus thrice said, the hymn is sometimes referred to as Tersanctus, and is thus apt to be confused with the triple Sanctus at the end of the preface at Mass.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Aachen-Assize

  • Sidlin may have sacrificed precision for passion here and there (that eight-part fugue in the Sanctus is no picnic), but that hardly seems a fault.

    'Defiant Requiem' powerfully inspirits a haunting past

  • 1 Dorcey, for one, openly questions the validity of similar claims by Pfiffig linking it to a title Sanctus, albeit it in a cowardly footnote. (see, The Cult of Silvanus: A Study in Roman Folk Religion (1992), p.11, fn.17)

    Archive 2007-11-01

  • It's the Psalms and selected verses from the prophets (most importantly, the passage from Isaiah you know as the Sanctus and we call the Kedushah (same meaning as Sanctus

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • This line corresponds to the 3rd line, the Ter-Sanctus, which is the centre of the 1st Stanza.

    The Prayer Book Explained

  • In view of Clement's allusion it is difficult to understand Abbot Cabrol's theory that the Sanctus is a later addition to the Mass ( "Les Origines liturgiques", Paris, 1906, p. 329).

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 13: Revelation-Stock

  • The ringing of a bell at the Sanctus is a development from the

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 13: Revelation-Stock

  • The Sanctus is the last part of the Preface in the Mass, sung in practically every rite by the people (or choir).

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 13: Revelation-Stock

  • That concludes with the singing of the Sanctus, meaning “holy.”

    An Instructed Eucharist

  • The precentor acknowledged the gift of a new setting for the "Sanctus," donated by the composer's patron, but by the dubious enthusiasm with which he welcomed so generous a gift, he did not think highly of its merits, and it was unlikely to be heard often.

    Monk's Hood


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