Ave verum corpus

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Ave verum corpus is a short Eucharistic hymn that has been set to music by various composers. It dates from the 14th century and has been attributed to Pope Innocent VI.[1]

During the Middle Ages it was sung at the elevation of the host during the consecration. It was also used frequently during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The hymn's title means "Hail, true body", and is based on a poem deriving from a 14th-century manuscript from the Abbey of Reichenau, Lake Constance.[citation needed] The poem is a meditation on the Catholic belief in Jesus's Real Presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and ties it to the Catholic conception of the redemptive meaning of suffering in the life of all believers.


The text is in Latin, and reads:

Ave verum corpus, natum
de Maria Virgine,[2]
vere passum, immolatum
in cruce pro homine,
cuius latus perforatum
fluxit aqua et sanguine:[3]
esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.[4]
O Iesu dulcis, O Iesu pie, O Iesu, fili Mariae.
Miserere mei. Amen.[5]

A translation into English is:

Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
who having truly suffered, was sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
whose pierced side
flowed with water and blood:
May it be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death.
O sweet Jesus, O pious Jesus, O Jesus, son of Mary,
have mercy on me. Amen.

Musical settings[edit]

Musical settings include Mozart's Ave verum corpus (K. 618),[6] as well as settings by William Byrd and Sir Edward Elgar. There is a version by Franz Liszt [Searle 44], and also ones by Camille Saint-Saëns, Orlande de Lassus, Imant Raminsh,[7] Alexandre Guilmant, Colin Mawby,[8] Malcolm Archer[9] and Jack Gibbons.[10] Liszt also composed a fantasy on Mozart's work, preceded by a version of Allegri's celebrated 'Miserere', under the title 'À la Chapelle Sixtine' [Searle 461 – two versions]. Versions of this fantasy for orchestra [Searle 360] and piano four-hands [Searle 633] follow closely the 2nd version for piano. The is also a version for organ [Searle 658] with the title 'Evocation à la Chapelle Sixtine'. The text is even used in an opera, Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites (there is also 'Ave verum corpus', a separate work by Poulenc dated 1952). Mozart's version, with instruments only, was adapted by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as one of the sections of his Mozartiana, a tribute to Mozart. The Vienna Boys' Choir (Wiener Sangerknaben) made some notable recordings of Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus in the 20th century. A simple version in Gregorian chant can be seen here [1].

A recent version of this piece was recorded by the girl choristers that make up the group "All Angels"; the words set to the music from the ITV series Brideshead Revisited by Geoffrey Burgon. Another recent setting was composed by Philip Stopford in 2007, titled simply "Ave Verum".

Also, Rydian Roberts has recorded the piece on his 2009 CD entitled "RHYDIAN O FORTUNA" under exclusive license to SonyMusic Entertainment UK Limited.


  1. ^ p. 56, Rubin (1992) Miri. Cambridge Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture Cambridge University Press
  2. ^ Other versions have ex Maria Virgine.
  3. ^ Other versions have unda fluxit et sanguine.
  4. ^ Other versions have mortis in examine.
  5. ^ Other versions have Miserere nobis.
  6. ^ p. 351, Heartz (2009) Daniel. New York. Mozart, Haydn and Early Beethoven: 1781–1802 W. W. Norton & Co.
  7. ^ "Raminsh-Ave-URegina Chamber Singers.m4v". YouTube. 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  8. ^ "BYU Singers - Ave Verum Corpus (Mawby)". YouTube. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  9. ^ "Archer "Ave Verum"". YouTube. 2011-03-27. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  10. ^ "Gibbons "Ave Verum Corpus Op.90"". YouTube. 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 

External links[edit]