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What is the Benedictus prayer?

Zechariah

Domenico Ghirlandaio | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 06/23/22

The Benedictus prayer is a canticle said during Morning Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Benedictus is a prayer of thanksgiving said by Zachariah at the birth of St. John the Baptist. The word Benedictus is the Latin word for “Blessed” and is the first word of Zachariah’s canticle in the Gospel of Luke (cf. Luke 1:68–79).

It begins with the words in Latin, “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel,” translated into English, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel.

The canticle expresses Zachariah’s joy at the birth of his son, giving thanks and praise to God for the gift of his life. It also foreshadows the ministry of St. John the Baptist and looks forward to his role as a prophet, preparing the way for Jesus.

In the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours, the Benedictus is recited or sung during Morning Prayer and is a complement to the Magnificat, which is said at Evening Prayer.

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