Still trying to rediscover a sense of awe and amazement in the Eucharist? Perhaps our beloved St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, has just what you need this Corpus Christi.
There are arguably no more beautiful and moving hymns than the three he composed for this great feast day: Pange Linga, Tantum Ergo and Adore te Devote.
But they are in Latin, you say, and you don’t understand that language. But your heart can, if you just let these hauntingly beautiful melodies penetrate it. Your mind can certainly “rap itself around” the English translations of these classics if you would but invest some time pondering and reflecting on these heavenly lyrics.
Settle down. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Be silent for a time. Cast aside the trials and tribulations of this day. Ask God to allow the words you are about to ponder, the melodies you will hear, and the images you will see penetrate your entire being and bring this great Eucharistic mystery alive in your heart, mind and soul.
This is what I suggest. Feel free to ignore this suggestion. Take one hymn at a time. Read the lyrics. Read them more than once. Then click the name of that hymn. There will be two versions of each hymn. Listen and watch the video that will appear. You may want to do this a few times as well. Go back, re-read the lyrics and then listen to the hymn again. Repeat this process for the remaining two hymns.
(Sing My Tongue)
Of the glorious Body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
And the Blood, all price excelling,
Which the world’s eternal King,
In a noble womb once dwelling
Shed for the world’s ransoming.
Given for us, descending,
Of a Virgin to proceed,
Man with man in converse blending,
Scattered he the Gospel seed,
Till his sojourn drew to ending,
Which he closed in wondrous deed.
At the last great Supper lying
Circled by his brethren’s band,
Meekly with the law complying,
First he finished its command
Then, immortal Food supplying,
Gave himself with his own hand.
Word made Flesh, by word he maketh
Very bread his Flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ’s Blood partaketh:
And if senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.
Therefore we, before him bending,
This great Sacrament revere;
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.
Glory let us give, and blessing
To the Father and the Son;
Honour, might, and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing,
Who, from both, with both is one.
If you are not ready to move on to the next hymn, it’s okay. Here’s another version. Stay here as long as you like. Proceed at your own pace.
(Down in Adoration)
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! oe’r 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 Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.
R. Thou hast given them bread from heaven.
V. Having within it all sweetness.
Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever. R. Amen.
Go here if you want to experience a more traditional version of this hymn.
Our final hymn:
(I Devoutly Adore You)
1. Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
2. Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
3. On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
4. I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
5. O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
6. Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
7. Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight.
I suspect you’re looking for another version?
Let us end in prayer:
Heavenly Father, increase our faith in the Real Presence of your Son, Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We are obliged to adore Him, to give Him thanks and to make reparation for sins. We need Your peace in our hearts and among nations. We need conversion from our sins and the mercy of Your forgiveness. May we obtain this through prayer and our union with the Eucharistic Lord. Please send down the Holy Spirit upon all peoples to give them the love, courage, strength and willingness to respond to the invitation to perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. We beseech You to spread perpetual exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament in parishes around the world. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament help us spread the glory of Your Son through perpetual exposition of the Holy Eucharist.
(With thanksgiving to Deacon John Setera and the Eucharistic Adoration Society in the Diocese of Buffalo, NY)