Tantum Ergo, the Angelic Doctor and my Wife

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on delicious
Delicious
Share on digg
Digg
Share on stumbleupon
StumbleUpon
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

When Corpus Christi rolls around I always think of Saint Thomas Aquinas and his great eucharistic hymn Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium written by Saint Thomas at the command of Pope Urban IV to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi instituted by the Pope in 1264.   It says something vastly significant about the Church that perhaps the greatest intellect of all time, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was not only a Doctor of the Church, but also capable of writing this magnificent hymn.

The last portion of the hymn, Tantum Ergo, has vast significance for my family.  My bride, who is a far better Catholic in my estimation than I am, is a convert.  A Methodist when we married, she converted to the Church a few years later.  She had questions regarding the real presence, and this line from Tantum Ergo resolved them:  Faith tells us that Christ is present,  When our human senses fail.  When our kids came along she would whisper at the Consecration to them:  First it’s bread, now it’s Jesus.  First it’s wine, now it’s Jesus. 

Here is Saint Thomas on the Great Sacrament:

 

Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine. O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us sal- vation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ him- self, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was in- stituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. YET, in the end, NO ONE CAN FULLY EXPRESS the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ re- vealed in his passion. It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfillment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, which for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be an unique and abiding consolation.

St Thomas Aquinas (Opusculum 57, in festo Corporis Christi, lect.1-4)

 

More to explorer

Bat Capitalist

    News that I missed, courtesy of The Babylon Bee:   GOTHAM CITY—Billionaire Bruce Wayne has come under fire for the

October 14, 1947: Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier

I was always afraid of dying.  Always.  It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and

Comrades Under the Black Uniforms

    News that I missed, courtesy of The Babylon Bee:     ARLINGTON, VA—Last night, members of the militant anti-fascist group

5 Comments

  1. The two versions of Tantum Ergo do not have the melody that I am familiar with, the one I remember my grandmother singing at church when I was young. Check out a singer named Beth Nielsen Chapman and her album, Hymns.

  2. This is the review I wrote on Amazon after I bought Beth Nielsen Chapman’s CD:

    Joni Mitchell sang “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” That is what occurred to me when I listened to this disc. Sometime after Vatican II these classic melodies were shelved in favor of music that was considered more… accessible. The beauty of these hymns is timeless and sung by the bell-like voice of Beth Nielsen Chapman evokes a time when the Catholic Church and its rituals held a sense of mystery and awe.

    Additionally, Chapman contributes a new song of her own, “Hymn to Mary” that is so beautiful and reverent that one might conclude she was born a few centuries too late.

  3. I must be getting real old because I know all three melodies and never tire of hearing any of them.

Comments are closed.