Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ave Verum Corpus

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.


Pat's Place said...

That IS one of the beautiful things about our religion--the ages and ages of history behind what we do. And I did take Latin so I could understand the Mass when it was in Latin and about the time I learned enough Latin to understand what was going on (3 years in high school) they switched to English! Go figure!

Anonymous said...

Of course, Latin-English missals are available for the rest of us who do not understand Latin - people have no excuse today, unless they sadly cannot read. The Rosary and prayers were permitted way-back-when for that very reason. Illiterate peasants knew the contents of The Mass and had no problem in worship. The essence of The TLM is deeply rich with wholly Catholic Teachings written in a loving and beautiful expression. It continues to teach us our faith and leaves no room for introducing error. Our Catholic Faith's History is INDEED a great evangelization tool; how can people deny what God has said? that He would and did send His Only Son?

My mission today:

PLEASE join with other Catholic Pro Life Bloggers by continually posting at every about Mr. Obama's UNACCEPTABLE stand on the destruction of innocent life - I propose we band together and make a peaceful but continual protest in defense of LIFE! Keep it going! God Bless you and Our Lady of Guadaloupe, Ora Pro Nobis!

Aimee said...

I took Latin so I really enjoy the latin parts of the mass during lent. My son is taking it too using a Catholic Latin curriculum so we know some of the prayers without using the missels. He loves to be able to sing the latin parts!