The song of the Angels, Holy, Holy, Holy, comes straight from scripture. The prophet Isaiah describes God’s throne as surrounded by seraphim (Angels) who cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3). St. John also describes the throne of God as being surrounded by “living creatures” who never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8) By adding the Sanctus to our worship we are recognizing that we have come before the throne of God to worship. God is present with us. When we say these words we bow our heads and enter into God’s throne room.
To be holy is to be set apart and distinct from common things. When we talk about holy objects or holy people we are talking about being set apart for divine use and purpose. The Angels’ repetition of “holy” holds some important significance. The number three is a sign of wholeness or completeness. The Angels’ repetition of “Holy” speaks of a God that is completely set apart from creation. A God that is fearfully transcendent and unlike any other.
The final part of the Sanctus is called the “Benedictus qui venti” or Blessed is He who comes. This also originates from scripture. Psalm 118:26 says, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.” More memorable perhaps is the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. The crowds say this Psalm as Jesus the King comes to the Capital City of his people. (Think Palm Sunday). Jesus also quotes this passage when he laments over Jerusalem and their rejection of God’s plan of Salvation. We remember that Jesus comes in the name of the Lord. His coming meant a death on the cross. Our response to hearing the “Benedictus qui venti” is to make the sign of the cross. This sign comes from a desire to be people who share in the cross of Christ. It is a reminder that the cross that Jesus bore has power to transform us into people who also “come in the name of the Lord”.