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Gospel lesson

Gospel lesson (Plainchant intonation)

Gospel reading

The reading of the gospel is one of the high points in the celebration of Mass, itself the liturgical high point of a given feast. In the Latin West, the gospel lesson was usually intoned by a deacon. In declaiming the evangelist’s verses, he proceeds as simply as possible on a single pitch and then proceeds with various melodic formulas at the ends of phrases. This movement at the ends of phrases is a kind of musical punctuation that mirrors the shape of the verses. The excerpt here comes from the Gospel of John, a passage that medieval Christians would have heard when they attended the third (or main) Mass on Christmas Day. These same verses opened the set of readings near the beginning of the devotional guides known as books of hours, the most popular book of the late Middle Ages. The text emphasizes the eternal generation of the Word, who is Christ; as well as mankind’s need of redemption and God’s willingness to provide it.

Dominus vobiscum.Et cum spiritum tuo.

Sequentia sancti evangelii secundum Ioannem.

Gloria tibi domine.


In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est. In ipso vita erat et vita erat lux hominum. Et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo cui nomen erat Iohannes. Hic venit in testimonium ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera quae inluminat omnem hominem venientem in mundum. In mundo erat et mundus per ipsum factus est et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri his qui credunt in nomine eius. Qui non ex sanguinibus neque ex voluntate carnis neque ex voluntate viri sed ex Deo nati sunt. Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis et vidimus gloriam eius gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre plenum gratiae et veritatis.

The Lord be with you.And with your spirit.

[A reading] from the holy Gospel according to John. Glory to you, O Lord.


In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life: and the life was the light of all. And the light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light, which enlightens every man that comes into this world. He was in the world: and the world was made by Him: and the world knew Him not. He came unto his own: and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.


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