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Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium

Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium is a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) for the Feast of Corpus Christi (now called the Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ). It is also sung on Holy 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.

The opening words recall another famous Latin sequence, Pange Lingua Gloriosi Proelium Certaminis, by Venantius Fortunatus.

Latin text and English version

There are many English translations, of varying rhyme scheme and meter. Fr. Edward Caswall authored the following translation:

Text of Pange lingua gloriosi, with doxology

Latin text An English translation
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 Savior'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
wondrously His life of woe.

On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills 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,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty.

Amen. Alleluia.

Pange lingua in music history

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 15th 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 16th 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. Simon Lohet, Michelangelo Rossi, François Roberday, Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, Johann Jakob Froberger, Johann Kaspar 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 theme borrows the first four notes.

The last two verses of Pange Lingua 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 and one by Widor.

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.

External links

References

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