Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Maundy Thursday Offertory: Ubi Caritas

Written by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century, the hymn extols the Eucharist and Christ's sacrifice in giving it. Below are the words, in Latin and the glorious, glorious English translation by Edward Caswall, a 19th-Century Anglican clergyman and hymn writer (who later converted to Roman Catholicism).

Listen to a stunningly beautiful version of it here, an mp3 of the St. Thomas Fifth Avenue Solemn Maundy Thursday Eucharist, sung to the hymn tune Grafton. I love the plainsong version - but this is really so lovely and loving that it's difficult to listen to, in its context, without tears welling in the eyes. The hymn, with organ accompaniment, starts at around 1:43:30; at the moment I think it's the loveliest hymn ever written. There are long pauses between verses as the Sacrament is taken in procession to the Altar of Repose.

[EDIT:  Unfortunately, that mp3 is no longer available.   Here is a short video of the hymn tune Grafton, though, so you can get the feel of the thing; it's just the organ, for four verses.  Imagine a slower, statelier pace - and those silent pauses between verses - and you'll have the idea.  They always sing it in English at St. Thomas, but the Latin would work too, as it's in the same meter.  Here's a page that describes the service itself; it's one of the richest and most beautiful of the Great Church Year.

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.

NOW, my tongue, the mystery telling
Of the glorious Body sing,
And the Blood, all price excelling,
Which the Gentiles’ Lord and King,
Once on earth among us dwelling,
Shed for this world’s ransoming.

Given for us, and condescending
To be born for us below,
He with men in converse blending
Dwelt, the seed of truth to sow,
Till he closed with wondrous ending
His most patient life of woe.

That last night at supper lying
Mid the twelve, his chosen band,
Jesus, with the Law complying,
Keeps the feast its rites demand;
Then, more precious food supplying,
Gives himself with his own hand

Word-made-flesh, true bread he maketh
By his word his Flesh to be,
Wine his Blood; when man partaketh,
Though his senses fail to see,
Faith alone, when sight forsaketh,
Shows true hearts 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 our inward vision clear.

Glory let us give and blessing
To the Father and the Son,
Honor, thanks, and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing
Who from both with both is One.

Amen. Alleluia.

All the chants for today are listed at, as follows:

Missa Vespertina in Cena Domini
Ad liturgiam verbi
Introitus: Cf. Gal. 6,14; Ps. 66 Nos autem gloriari (4m37.3s - 4337 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 144,15. V. 16 Oculi omnium (2m58.5s - 2793 kb) score
Tractus: Mal. 1,11 et Prov. 9,5 Ab ortu solis (2m33.8s - 2409 kb) score

Ad lotionem pedum

Antiphona: Cf. Io. 13, 4.5.15 Postquam surrexit Dominus (43.3s - 681 kb) score
Antiphona: Io. 13, 2.13.15 Dominus Iesus (1m02.4s - 979 kb) score
Antiphona: Io. 13, 6.7.8 Domine, tu mihi lavas pedes (1m16.0s - 1191 kb) score
Antiphona: Cf. Io. 13, 14 Si ego Dominus (37.2s - 583 kb) score
Antiphona: Io. 13, 35 In hoc cognoscent omnes (45.5s - 713 kb) score
Antiphona: Io. 13, 34 Mandatum novum (15.8s - 248 kb) score
Antiphona: I Cor. 13, 13 Maneant in vobis (56.2s - 876 kb) score

Ad liturgiam eucharisticam

Offertorium: Ubi caritas (2m16.3s - 2132 kb) score
Communio: I Cor. 11, 24.25  Hoc corpus (2m51.7s - 2684 kb) score

Ad translationem SS.mi Sacramenti

O salutaris Hostia I (52.2s - 818 kb) score, Panis angelicus I (1m15.5s - 1182 kb) score, Adoro te devote (2m26.0s - 2282 kb) score, Ecce panis (1m33.2s - 1458 kb) score, Pange lingua, Tantum ergo (3m06.5s - 2916 kb) score

Here are other posts on Chantblog for some of the propers:

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