Benedictus is the liturgical name for the song of Zacharias contained in Lu 1:68-79, so called from its first word. This canticle has been said at lauds in the Western Church from early times every day throughout the year, whatever be the service. The introduction of the custom is attributed to St. Benedict. It is said with a varying antiphon which is doubled, i.e. said entire both before and after the canticle, on double feasts; in the Roman, monastic, and other offices derived from a Gregorian or Benedictine origin, at the end of lauds, immediately before the collect, and occupies the same position at lauds which the Magnificat occupies at vespers. In the Ambrosian office it occurs, on the contrary, at the very beginning of the office, after the opening versicles. The Ambrosian rules, too, for the duplication of antiphons are different from the Roman. The Benedictus is also found elsewhere, e.g. in the Mozarabic lauds for the nativity of John the Baptist. In the Greek rite the Benedictus forms, together with and following the Magnificat, the last of the nine odes [see ODE] appointed for lauds. The introductory part of The Song of the Three Children, which precedes the Benedictiones, or Benedicite (q. v) proper, is also known as the Benedictus from its opening.

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