Sunday, June 03, 2018

Corpus Christi.

In the liturgical calendar of the Latin Church, the Feast of Corpus Christi is traditionally celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, though for pastoral reasons it is often transferred to the following Sunday - that is, today. As I did a few years ago, I would like to mark Corpus Christi by posting one of the most important liturgical texts of the day, the sequence Lauda Sion which St. Thomas Aquinas composed for Corpus Christi shortly after Pope Urban IV prescribed the celebration of the feast throughout the Latin Church in 1264. Meant to be chanted immediately before the proclamation of the Gospel, this sequence remains a part of the liturgy to this very day, though I suspect that relatively few Catholics have ever heard it sung.

In posting the sequence Lauda Sion here this year, I have taken a note from my annual custom of posting the Dies Irae on All Souls' Day and have prepared my own original translation of the sequence. This translation was prepared somewhat hastily, and it may still contain some errors as well as stylistic infelicities for which I take full responsibility. That being said, if my translation helps some people to appreciate the sequence better, I will consider my work to have been worthwhile.


Lauda Sion Salvatórem
Lauda ducem et pastórem
In hymnis et cánticis.

Praise, O Sion, your savior,
Praise your guide and shepherd
In hymns and in songs.

Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia major omni laude,
Nec laudáre súfficis.

As much as you can, and as much as you dare:
For he is greater than all praise,
And you cannot praise him enough.

Laudis thema speciális,
Panis vivus et vitális,
Hódie propónitur.

A theme of particular praise,
That of the living and life-giving bread,
Is today set forth.

Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,
Turbæ fratrum duodénæ
Datum non ambígitur.

That [bread] which was, beyond doubt,
Given at the table of the holy supper,
To a group of twelve brothers.

Sit laus plena, sit sonóra,
Sit jucúnda, sit decóra
Mentis jubilátio.

May your praise be full, may it be loud;
May your soul’s rejoicing
Be delightful and pleasant.

Dies enim solémnis ágitur,
In qua mensæ prima recólitur
Hujus institútio.

For the solemn day has come,
In which the origin of this feast
Is called to mind.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
Novum Pascha novæ legis,
Phase vetus términat.

At the table of the new King,
The new Passover of the new law
Brings an end to the old sacrifice.

Vetustátem nóvitas,
Umbram fugat véritas,
Noctem lux elíminat.

Novelty leads antiquity to flight,
Truth drives away the shadows,
[And] the light brings an end to night.

Quod in cœna Christus gessit,
Faciéndum hoc expréssit
In sui memóriam.

What Christ carried out at that supper,
He ordered to be done again
In his memory.

Docti sacris institútis,
Panem, vinum, in salútis
Consecrámus hóstiam.

Having been taught by holy precepts,
We offer bread and wine
As the sacrifice of our salvation.

Dogma datur Christiánis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sánguinem.

This teaching is given to Christians:
That the bread changes into flesh,
And the wine into blood.

Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animósa firmat fides,
Præter rerum ordinem.

What you do not understand, what you do not see,
A bold faith affirms,
Beyond the [visible] order of things.

Sub divérsis speciébus,
Signis tantum, et non rebus,
Latent res exímiæ.

Under separate species,
[Visible only] as signs and not as [real] things,
Priceless realities are concealed.

Caro cibus, sanguis potus:
Manet tamen Christus totus,
Sub utráque spécie.

His flesh is food, his blood is drink:
Still Christ remains entire
Under each species.

A suménte non concísus,
Non confráctus, non divísus:
Integer accípitur.

By those who receive him, he is not cut up,
Or broken into pieces, or divided:
He is received whole and complete.

Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consúmitur.

As one receives, a thousand receive,
Each one as much as the next,
Without him being wholly consumed.

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inæquáli,
Vitæ vel intéritus.

Both the good and the wicked receive,
Yet to an unequal end:
Life or destruction.

Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptiónis
Quam sit dispar éxitus.

Death is the end of the wicked,
And life is the end of the good:
See how, from the same reception,
Comes a different result.

Fracto demum Sacraménto,
Ne vacílles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragménto,
Quantum toto tégitur.

The sacrament at last having been broken,
Do not hesitate, but remember,
That each fragment hides
As much as the whole.

Nulla rei fit scissúra:
Signi tantum fit fractúra:
Qua nec status nec statúra
Signáti minúitur.

There is no division in what is real;
There is rather a breaking of the sign:
While neither the condition nor the stature
Of what is signified is lessened.

Ecce panis Angelórum,
Factus cibus viatórum:
Vere panis filiórum,
Non mitténdus cánibus.

Behold the bread of Angels,
Has become the food of travelers:
Truly the bread of the children,
Which is not to be thrown to the dogs.

In figúris præsignátur,
Cum Isaac immolátur:
Agnus paschæ deputátur
Datur manna pátribus.

It was prefigured in types,
When Isaac was sacrificed,
The Paschal Lamb was selected,
And Manna was given to our Fathers.

Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserére:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuére:
Tu nos bona fac vidére
In terra vivéntium.

Good shepherd, true bread,
Jesus, have mercy upon us:
Nourish us and defend us.
Bring it about that we may see
Good things in the land of the living.

Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales:
Qui nos pascis hic mortáles:
Tuos ibi commensáles,
Cohærédes et sodáles,
Fac sanctórum cívium.
Amen. Allelúja.

You, who know and can do all:
You, who sustain us mortals here:
Make us to be your fellows at table,
Coheirs and comrades,
Fellow citizens with the saints.
Amen. Alleluia.


Peace to those who read these lines. AMDG.