Lauda Sion: Eucharistic Gratitude

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
June 14, 2020

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Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, and on this solemn feast, we pray with the ancient sequence Lauda Sion.

This laudatory prayer was written by St.Thomas Aquinas around 1264, at the request of Pope Urban IV for a new Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi. St. Thomas also wrote four more magnificent hymns for the feast: Pange Lingua, Sacris solemniis, Adoro Te Devote, and Verbum supernum prodiens which are all prayed during the Divine Office.

Lauda Sion repeatedly affirms our belief in Christ’s Presence in the consecrated Bread and Wine. In lovely, poetic meter, the Sequence presents erudite theology in accessible, memorable form. It is an amazing work of art and pedagogy!

After reading through the entire piece, we might choose one or two verses which resound with our personal Eucharistic devotion. In these times when many of us find our liturgical participation limited, the words of this Sequence are particularly poignant.

These verses from the beginning and end of the Sequence are some of my favorites. The various English translations are masterful, but never capture the complete essence of the Latin which I have therefore included here.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick’ning and the living
Bread today before you set:
From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Laudis thema speciális,
Panis vivus et vitális,
Hódie propónitur.
Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,

Turbæ fratrum duodénæ
Datum non ambígitur

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.
You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.

Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserére:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuére:
Tu nos bona fac vidére
In terra vivéntium.
Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales:
Qui nos pascis hic mortáles:
Tuos ibi commensáles,
Cohærédes et sodáles,
Fac sanctórum cívium. Amen. Alleluia.

MusicEcce Panis Angelorum – sung at the Papal Mass in Namugongo, Uganda.  The site is an open-air shrine to the Ugandan Martyrs, forty-five Christians burned alive in the 1880s on the orders of the king who feared the growing influence of Christianity.

This rendition of the hymn is the one I love from novitiate days. Though the video is shaky, it is wonderful to hear these African sisters and brothers singing with such obvious joy and devotion, in a language and with a faith that we can all share.