BENEDICTUS, the hymn of Zacharias (Luke i. 68 sqq.), so called from the opening word of the Latin version. The hymn has been used in Christian worship since at least the 9th century, and was adopted into the Anglican Order of Morning Prayer from the Roman service of matin-lauds. In the Prayer-Book of 1549 there was no alternative to the Benedictus; it was to be used “throughout the whole year.” In 1552 the Jubilate was inserted without any restriction as to how often it should take the place of the Benedictus. Such restriction is clearly implied in the words “except when that (Benedictus) shall happen to be read in the chapter for the day, or for the Gospel on Saint John Baptist’s day,” which were inserted in 1662. The rubric of 1532 had this curious wording: “And after the Second Lesson shall be used and said, Benedictus in English, as followeth.”

The name is also given to a part of the Roman Catholic mass service beginning Benedictus qui venit.