By Sr. Fidelis
This week, we turn our faces toward Holy Week and the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find a depth of riches in the Gregorian chants that come from this sacred season. One of the treasures of the Church is the majestic hymn Pange Lingua, whose text is attributed to Thomas Aquinas. This chant is sung to accompany the translation of the Sacraments to a place of repose at the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday Eucharist. The Mode 3 melody gently sweeps up and back in a way that lifts the text and gives a sense of adoration. Read this wonderful translation by J.M. Neale and others, which is found in many hymnals.
Of the glorious body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
And the blood, all price excelling,
Which the world’s eternal King,
In a spotless womb once dwelling,
Shed for this world’s ransoming.
Given for us, for us descending,
Of a virgin to proceed,
Man with man in converse blending,
Scattered he the gospel seed,
Till his sojourn drew to ending,
Which he closed in wondrous deed.
At the last great supper lying
Circled by his chosen band,
Duly with the law complying,
First he finished its command,
Then immortal food supplying,
Gave himself by his own hand.
Word-made-flesh by word he maketh
Bread his very flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ’s blood partaketh:
And if senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.
Therefore we, before him bending,
This great sacrament revere:
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.
Glory let us give and blessing
To the Father and the Son,
Honor, might and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing,
Who, from both, with both is one. Amen
Pange Lingua (Hymn Mode 3 C), Aquinas