I wish I had taken Latin in school like my friend Margaret. We always joked she was learning the dead language. Thing is it's not really dead, especially when so many of the words in our language are based in Latin. And if you know Latin you won't have any trouble getting through those anatomy or medical classes in college. And if you're Catholic like me it comes in handy when certain songs are being sung. My Dad still rattles off parts of the mass in Latin, as he remembers it back in the day the whole mass was spoken in that language.
Today, as we celebrated the season of lent, I listened to the beautiful words of Ave Verum Corpus sung by our choir. The translation was given before the lyrics began and I was struck at the profound beauty found in such a short verse. Here are the words, first in Latin and then in English.
Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine
vere passum immolatum in cruce pro homine:
cuius latum perforatum fluxit aqua et sanguine:
esto nobis praegustatum mortis in examine.
O Iesu dulcis! O Iesu pie! O Iesu fili Mariae.
Hail true body:
that was born of the Virgin Mary,
That truly suffered and was sacrificed on the Cross for men,
From whose pierced side flowed water and blood;
Be for us a foretaste of death and judgement.
O sweet and gentle Jesus!, son of Mary.
The history I found on this piece is that it was written as medieval religious poetry, some say from Pope Innocent VI. Even though it is short it covers the Incarnation, the Passion, the Eucharist, and the Last Judgement.
I love the history of my faith! Knowing that the faithful sat in churches thousands of years ago listening to the same musical words, celebrating Jesus and his sacrifice for us. That kind of love bridges all time.