On this table of the King, Our new Paschal offering Brings to end the olden rite. Here, for empty shadows fled, Is reality instead, Here, instead of darkness, light. Hear, what holy Church maintaineth, That the bread its substance changeth Into Flesh, the wine to Blood. Doth it pass thy comprehending? Faith, the law of sight transcending Leaps to things not understood. Here beneath these signs are hidden Priceless things, to sense forbidden, Signs, not things, are all we see.

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O Good Shepherd, True Bread, O Jesus, have mercy on us: feed us and protect us: make us see good things in the land of the living. Thou who knowest all things and canst do all things, who here feedest us mortals, make us there be Thy guests, the co-heirs, and companions of the heavenly citizens. Translation derived from Translations and Annotations of Choral Repertoire, vol. Excerpt from The Catholic Encyclopedia entry The opening words used as a title of the sequence composed by St.

Thomas Aquinas, about the year , for the Mass of Corpus Christi. That the sequence was written for the Mass is evidenced by the sixth stanza: Dies enim solemnis agitur In qua mensae prima recolitur Hujus institutio. The authorship of the sequence was once attributed to St.

Bonaventure; and Gerbert, in his De cantu et musica sacra, declaring it redolent of the style and rhythmic sweetness characteristic of the verse of this saint, moots the question whether the composition of the Mass of the feast should not be ascribed to him, and of the Office to St.

The fact that another Office had been composed for the local feast established by a synodal decree of the Bishop of Liege in also led some writers to contest the ascription to St. His authorship has been proved, however, beyond question, thanks to Martine De antiq. There is also a clear declaration referred to by Cardinal Thomasius of the authorship of St. Thomas, in a Constitution issued by Sixtus IV , and to be found in the third tome of the Bullarium novissimum Fratrum Praedicatorum.

In content the great sequence, which is partly epic, but mostly didactic and lyric in character, summons all to endless praise of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar lines ; assigns the reason for the commemoration of its institution lines ; gives in detail the Catholic doctrine of the Sacrament lines : "Dogma datur Christianis", etc.

Throughout the long poem the rhythmic flow is easy and natural, and, strange to say, especially so in the most didactic of the stanzas, despite a scrupulous theological accuracy in both thought and phrase. The saint "writes with the full panoply under his singing-robes"; but always the melody is perfect, the condensation of phrase is of crystalline clearness, the unction is abundant and, in the closing stanzas, of compelling sweetness.

A more detailed description of the content of the Lauda Sion is not necessary here, since both Latin text and English version are given in the Baltimore Manual of Prayers, p. Its purest form is found in the recently issued Vatican edition of the Roman Gradual. Its authorship is not known; and, accordingly, the surmise of W.

Rockstro that the text-authors of the five sequences still retained in the Roman Missal probably wrote the melodies also and therefore that St. Thomas as a Musician" , to the same effect, are incorrect. Shall we suppose that Adam of St. Victor composed the melody? The supposition, which would of course date the melody in the 12th century, is not an improbable one. Possibly it is of older date; but the peculiar changes of rhythm suggest that the melody was composed either by Adam or by some fellow-monk of St.

Since the melody dates back at least to the 12th century, it is clear that the "local tradition" ascribing its composition to Pope Urban IV d.

Thomas with the composition of the Office, is not well-based: Contemporary writers of Urban IV speak of the beauty and harmony of his voice and of his taste for music and the Gregorian chant; and, according to a local tradition, the music of the Office of the Blessed Sacrament—a composition as grave, warm, penetrating, splendid as the celestial harmonies—was the work of Urban IV Cruls, The Blessed Sacrament; tr.

The Lauda Sion is one of the five sequences out of the thousand which have come down to us from the Middle Ages still retained in the Roman Missal. Each of the five has its own special beauty; but the Lauda Sion is peculiar in its combination of rhythmic flow, dogmatic precision, phraseal condensation.

It has been translated, either in whole or in part, upwards of 20 times into English verse; and a selection from it, the "Ecce panis angelorum", has received some ten additional versions.

Non-Catholic versions modify the meaning where it is too aggressively dogmatic and precise. Benedict, however, in his Hymn of Hildebert, etc. Thomas was the greatest singer of the venerable Sacrament. Neither is it to be believed that he did this without the inbreathing of God quem non sine numinis afflatu cecinisse credas , nor shall we be surprised that, having so wondrously, not to say uniquely, absolved this one spiritual and wholly heavenly theme, he should thenceforward sing no more.

One only offspring was his—but it was a lion Peperit semel, sed leonem. Thomas Aquinas, several other versions have been composed, some incorporating selected stanzas sets of verses from the entire piece, while others focusing on just the first stanza.


Lauda Sion



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