Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium

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Corpus Christi Procession in Budapest during which the Pangue lingua is sung

Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium is a hymn written by St Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) for the Feast of Corpus Christi . It is also sung on Maundy Thursday, during the procession from the church to the place where the Blessed Sacrament is kept until Good Friday. The last two stanzas, called separately Tantum Ergo, are sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The hymn expresses the doctrine of transubstantiation, in which, according to the Roman Catholic faith, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

It is often sung in English as the hymn Of the Glorious Body Telling, to the same tune as the Latin.

The opening words recall another famous Latin sequence, from which this hymn is derived: Pange Lingua Gloriosi Proelium Certaminis by Venantius Fortunatus.

Text[edit]

There are many English translations, of varying rhyme scheme and metre. The following is the Latin text with a doxology, and an English translation by Fr. Edward Caswall:.[1] The third column is a more literal rendering.

Latin text An English translation A more literal rendering
Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
quem in mundi pretium
fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit Gentium.
Nobis datus, nobis natus
ex intacta Virgine,
et in mundo conversatus,
sparso verbi semine,
sui moras incolatus
miro clausit ordine.
In supremae nocte coenae
recumbens cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,
cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.
Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
veneremur cernui:
et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui:
praestet fides supplementum
sensuum defectui.
Genitori, Genitoque
laus et jubilatio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
compar sit laudatio.
Amen. Alleluja.
Sing, my tongue, the Saviour's glory,
of His Flesh, the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our Immortal King,
destined, for the world's redemption,
from a noble Womb to spring.
Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wond'rously His Life of woe.
On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He, the Paschal Victim eating,
first fulfils the Law's command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own Hand.
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His Word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.
Down in adoration falling,
This great Sacrament we hail,
O'er ancient forms of worship
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,
When our human senses fail.
To the Everlasting Father,
And the Son who made us free
And the Spirit, God proceeding
From them Each eternally,
Be salvation, honour, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.
Amen. Alleluia.
Tell, tongue, the mystery
of the glorious Body
and of the precious Blood,
which, for the price of the world,
the fruit of a noble Womb,
the King of the Nations poured forth.
Given to us, born for us,
from the untouched Virgin,
and dwelt in the world
after the seed of the Word had been scattered.
His inhabiting ended the delays
with wonderful order.
On the night of the Last Supper,
reclining with His brethren,
once the Law had been fully observed
with the prescribed foods,
as food to the crowd of Twelve
He gives Himself with His hands.
The Word as Flesh makes true bread
into flesh by a word
and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ.
And if sense is deficient
to strengthen a sincere heart
Faith alone suffices.
Therefore, the great Sacrament
let us reverence, prostrate:
and let the old Covenant
give way to a new rite.
Let faith stand forth as substitute
for defect of the senses.
To Begetter and Begotten
be praise and jubilation,
health, honour, strength also
and blessing.
To the One who proceeds from Both
be praise as well.
Amen, Alleluia.

Music history[edit]

There are two plainchant settings of the Pange Lingua hymn. The better known is a Phrygian mode tune from the Roman liturgy, and the other is from the Mozarabic liturgy from Spain. The Roman tune was originally part of the Gallican Rite.

The Roman version of the Pange Lingua hymn was the basis for a famous composition by Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez, the Missa Pange lingua. An elaborate fantasy on the hymn, the mass is one of the composer's last works and has been dated to the period from 1515 to 1521, since it was not included by Petrucci in his 1514 collection of Josquin's masses, and was published posthumously. In its simplification, motivic unity and close attention to the text it has been compared to the late works of Beethoven, and many commentators consider it one of the high points of Renaissance polyphony.

Juan de Urrede, a Flemish composer active in Spain in the late fifteenth century, composed numerous settings of the Pange Lingua, most of them based on the original Mozarabic melody. One of his versions for four voices became one of the most popular pieces of the sixteenth century, and was the basis for dozens of keyboard works in addition to masses, many by Spanish composers.

Building on Josquin's treatment of the hymn's third line in the Kyrie of the Missa Pange Lingua, the "Do-Re-Fa-Mi-Re-Do"-theme became one of the most famous in music history, used to this day in even non-religious works such as Wii Sports Resort. Simon Lohet, Michelangelo Rossi, François Roberday, Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, Johann Jakob Froberger,[2] Johann Caspar Kerll, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Fux wrote fugues on it, and the latter's extensive elaborations in the Gradus ad Parnassum made it known to every aspiring composer - among them Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose Jupiter [3] theme borrows the first four notes.

The last two verses of Pange Lingua (Tantum Ergo) are often separated out. They mark the end of the procession of the monstrance in Holy Thursday liturgy. Various separate musical settings have been written for this, including one by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, one by Franz Schubert, eight by Anton Bruckner, one by Maurice Duruflé, and one by Charles-Marie Widor.

Franz Liszt's Night Procession from Two Episodes from Lenau's Faust is largely a fantasy on the Pange Lingua melody.[4]

A setting of Pange Lingua, written by Ciaran McLoughlin and produced by Paul MacAree, appears on the Solas album Solas An Domhain.

Pange Lingua has been translated into many different languages for worship throughout the world. However, the Latin version remains the most popular. The Syriac translation of Pange Lingua was used as part of the rite of benediction in the Syro-Malabar Church of Kerala, India, until the 1970s.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ H. T. Henry, "Pange Lingua Gloriosi," The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XI
  2. ^ Siegbert Rampe: Preface to "Froberger, New Edition of the Complete Works I", Kassel etc. 2002, p. XX and XLI (FbWV 202).
  3. ^ William Klenz: "Per Aspera ad Astra, or The Stairway to Jupiter"; The Music Review, Vol. 30 Nr. 3, August 1969, pp.169-210.
  4. ^ Ben Arnold, ed.: The Liszt Companion. Greenwood Press: 2002, p.270.

External links[edit]