Ave verum corpus

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"Ave verum corpus" is a short Eucharistic chant that has also 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 sacramental bread during the consecration. It was also used frequently during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

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.



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]

Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
having truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
from whose pierced side
water and blood flowed:
Be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death!

O sweet Jesus, O holy Jesus,
O Jesus, son of Mary,
have mercy on me. Amen.

Musical settings[edit]

Musical settings include Mozart's motet Ave verum corpus (K. 618),[6] as well as settings by William Byrd and Sir Edward Elgar. Not all composers set the whole text. For example, Mozart's setting finishes with "in mortis examine", Elgar's with "fili Mariae". 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, Malcolm Archer[8] and Jack Gibbons.[9] 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 second version for piano. There 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. From the 21st century there is a setting by the Swedish composer Fredrik Sixten.[10]


  1. ^ Rubin, Miri (1992). Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture. Cambridge University Press. p. 56.
  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. ^ Heartz, Daniel (2009). Mozart, Haydn and Early Beethoven: 1781–1802. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. p. 351.
  7. ^ Imant Raminsh: "Ave Verum Corpus" on YouTube
  8. ^ Malcolm Archer: "Ave Verum" on YouTube
  9. ^ Jack Gibbons" "Ave Verum Corpus", Op. 90 on YouTube
  10. ^ Fredrik Sixten: "Ave Verum Corpus" on YouTube

External links[edit]