I didnt know it then, but singing this as a young girl cemented something in me that I thought I had lost, but have now found
Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium
One of the most beautiful pieces of Catholic music ever written, in my opinion.
It was written around 1225 by St. Thomas Aquinas and its used in Catholic Benediction and especially on Holy Thursday during the Procession of the Holy Sacrament.
The last two strophes (stanzas), Tantum Ergo, are burned into my memory, for as a child attending Catholic school, we sang this at Benediction every first Friday. Its funny how a piece of music, albeit a beautiful piece of music, has so much power. I would have never believed that all those times, as I sat in Church singing these words, that those lyrics would somehow come back in my 64th year to remind me of the beautiful traditions of the Catholic Church. And knowing that as I grow older and therefore closer to the end of days, that I feel a kinship with Jesus and especially with those who have gone before me.
But there is power in music and I have always been drawn to beautiful melodies and lyrics. And how are we to know that lyrics and music written centuries ago, could have stood the test of all time and still be meaningful all these years later?
I feel comforted by the melody and the voices and the age old Latin words I grew up hearing everyday at Mass and now it is those same Latin words that I miss most every Sunday at Mass.
Some things are not easily changed.
Oh the customs and rituals of my religion! They are comforting in the same way a warm blanket is comforting and the arms of a mother is comforting and knowing that you are at peace within yourself is comforting. They are the rituals and traditions which have transcended centuries and come from Jesus Christ himself and they have sustained the faithful, as well as the sinners in their darkest hours and brought them safely back to sanity in many cases. They are the ties that bind no matter who you are, what color your skin, where you live, how much money you make. They are as enduring as the seas and the skies and I thank God for that.
Hearing this beautiful Gregorian Chant played as the priest and alter boys walked through our Church in the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and smelling the heavy incense, took me back and reminded me of those long ago days when it seemed so utterly unimportant and yet those priests and nuns must have known that the day to day drumming in of all of it, would somehow stay with me and keep me steadfast even when I fought against it
The Panis Angelicus is another traditional Latin hymn, also written by St. Thomas Aquinas, and also sung at the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, that I think I will always remember. As 7th grade girls singing daily Mass in the choir, we would get so excited when Mrs. Conway, the music teacher and organist for our Our Lord Christ the King Church/Cardinal Pacelli School, would tell us that we were going to do the Panis Angelicus. We did it in two parts and to this day, I get chills when I hear it. It was part of my Mother's funeral Mass and even in the midst of my tears, I sang every word.
In my memory, I see the choir loft filled with 13 and 14 year old girls, in school uniforms, beanies on our heads, standing on the risers by height, choir books in hand, singing to the heavens this beautiful song and even back then, I knew, I JUST knew that it touched something in me when we began the two part harmony.
There is a beautiful version of it on You Tube with Sting and Pavarotti linked here.
As I grow older, I appreciate more and more those things that were part of my growing up years and helped mold me into the person I maybe wasn't all of my life, but hopefully, now am.
Pange Lingua Gloriosi Tantum Ergo
- Pange Lingua Gloriosi - Catholic Hymns, Gregorian Chant - YouTube
This extraordinary Eucharistic hymn, by the great St. Thomas Aquinas, is a fan favourite among the faithful. This version regretably leaves out the second ve...