Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pange, Lingua

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 conuersatus,
sparso verbi semine,
Sui moras incolatus
miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte cenae,
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.


This hymn was composed by none other than Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi, which is today. It is certainly his most famous hymn, although Adoro te devote comes a decent second in popularity. The last two stanzas are often separated off as their own hymn, the Tantum Ergo. If you want to hear it sung, I recommend looking up samples on Amazon.com, which has some lovely ones of this hymn.

This hymn is notoriously difficult to translate. In English Caswall's is probably the most popular translation; it's better than most, but is vastly inferior to the original. John Mason Neale's is, as one might expect, in many ways the best; of all the English translations, for instance, it comes closest to capturing the fourth stanza, which is as good an argument that some things in Latin can't be translated as there can be. But closest and best here are still far away from the original.

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