Supplication Agnus Dei

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: The second paragraph of GIRM 83 states that “…The supplication Agnus Dei, is, as a rule, sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding; or it is, at least, recited aloud. This invocation accompanies the fraction and, for this reason, may be repeated as many times as necessary until the rite has reached its conclusion, the last time ending with the words dona nobis pacem (grant us peace).”

Since, “The fraction or breaking of bread is begun after the sign of peace…” (GIRM 83 first paragraph), the fraction itself of a “regular” big host does not take a lot of time…just seconds. The distribution, however, of smaller consecrated hosts into other ciboria is what usually takes time especially in Masses with a lot of communicants. 

Now, does the indication to “repeat as many times as necessary” the Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata, mundi miserere nobis before concluding with the dona nobis pacem include the time to prepare other ciboria (re-distribution of the smaller consecrated hosts), OR strictly just for the duration of the breaking of the big host? If it’s just the breaking of the big host, then it’s quite rare that the Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata, mundi miserere nobis be repeated more than twice since, most settings of the Agnus Dei used in our Masses are more than enough in duration to cover just the fraction of the big consecrated host (true even for the larger big host).

Thank you.


A: That rubric first appeared in the drafts even before the missal was published in 1969, so it probably envisioned a shift toward loaves of bread that the priest would need time to break. That never developed.

Permission to repeat the invocations pertains to the time required to conclude “the rite,” not specifically “the breaking of the bread,” and the rite would logically would include the placing of the hosts in ciboria in preparation for communion.