Taste and see: Praise the Lord

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On Corpus Christi a Sequence is set to be sung as part of the Liturgy of the Word. A setting of the Latin text can be heard here.

Sing forth, O Zion, sweetly sing
The praises of thy Shepherd-King,
In hymns and canticles divine;
Dare all thou canst, thou hast no song
Worthy his praises to prolong,
So far surpassing powers like thine.

Today no theme of common praise
Forms the sweet burden of thy lays –
The living, life-dispensing food –
That food which at the sacred board
Unto the brethren twelve our Lord
His parting legacy bestowed.

Then be the anthem clear and strong,
Thy fullest note, thy sweetest song,
The very music of the breast:
For now shines forth the day sublime
That brings remembrance of the time
When Jesus first his table blessed.

Within our new King’s banquet-hall
They meet to keep the festival
That closed the ancient paschal rite:
The old is by the new replaced;
The substance hath the shadow chased;
And rising day dispels the night.

Christ willed what he himself had done
Should be renewed while time should run,
In memory of his parting hour:
Thus, tutored in his school divine,
We consecrate the bread and wine;
And lo – a Host of saving power.

This faith to Christian men is given –
Bread is made flesh by words from heaven:
Into his blood the wine is turned:
What though it baffles nature’s powers
Of sense and sight? This faith of ours
Proves more than nature e’er discerned.

Concealed beneath the two-fold sign,
Meet symbols of the gifts divine,
There lie the mysteries adored:
The living body is our food;
Our drink the ever-precious blood;
In each, one undivided Lord.

Not he that eateth it divides
The sacred food, which whole abides
Unbroken still, nor knows decay;
Be one, or be a thousand fed,
They eat alike that living bread
Which, still received, ne’er wastes away.

The good, the guilty share therein,
With sure increase of grace or sin,
The ghostly life, or ghostly death:
Death to the guilty; to the good
Immortal life. See how one food
Man’s joy or woe accomplisheth.

We break the Sacrament, but bold
And firm thy faith shall keep its hold,
Deem not the whole doth more enfold
Than in the fractured part resides
Deem not that Christ doth broken lie,
’Tis but the sign that meets the eye,
The hidden deep reality
In all its fullness still abides.

– – – – – –

*Behold the bread of angels, sent
For pilgrims in their banishment,
The bread for God’s true children meant,
That may not unto dogs be given:
Oft in the olden types foreshowed;
In Isaac on the altar bowed,
And in the ancient paschal food,
And in the manna sent from heaven.

*Come then, good shepherd, bread divine,
Still show to us thy mercy sign;
Oh, feed us still, still keep us thine;
So may we see thy glories shine
In fields of immortality;

*O thou, the wisest, mightiest, best,
Our present food, our future rest,
Come, make us each thy chosen guest,
Co-heirs of thine, and comrades blest
With saints whose dwelling is with thee.
Amen. Alleluia.

The generous length of the song means that there is an alternative briefer form. However regularly the song seems to be omitted completely. This is perhaps understandable, but also a matter of regret.

Often there is a desire to make the Liturgy, and God, fit our needs rather than put ourselves out to rise to the challenges set before us…

Enjoy the song and give thanks to God, and if you did omit the song yesterday wonder why….

Tabernacle. Rosary Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

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Speak Lord: draw us to more deeply share in your life

Spirit, St Peter

Today’s Mass, that of Pentecost, the last Mass of Easter, is one of those privileged to retain a sequence.

Even more than the Psalms though the Sequence calls out to be sung.

Recited, even in common, it can maybe lacks more than it contributes to the worship. Sung it can be exquisite testimony to the faith and yearnings of the congregation.

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow

Thou in toil art comfort sweet
Pleasant coolness in the heat
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew
On our dryness pour thy dew
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will
Melt the frozen, warm the chill
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend:

Give us comfort when we die
Give us life with thee on high
Give us joys that never end.

  • If you did not sing it at Mass this year, perhaps because an adequate translation, or accessible setting, is not yet available to your congregation, what might be done for next year.
  • How might you better fulfil the invitation of the Liturgy?
  • How might you better give voice to your love and need for the Spirit of God.

Holy Spirit window, St Peter’s basilica, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See

Paschal CandleThe Sequence for Easter Day is one of the few extra-biblical texts retained in the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite.

The poetic treatment of the Easter story reminds, should we need reminding – that we do not listen to the scriptures to get new information about what ‘happened’. If it did the Sequence gives away the ending!

Rather we listen to recover the meaning of what happened, its present significance to us. And to that end the Sequence offers its support and help. Our present response becomes rejoicing and trust and hope.

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.

Death with life contended:
combat strangely ended!

Life’s own Champion, slain,
yet lives to reign.

Tell us, Mary:
say what thou didst see
upon the way.

The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ’s glory as he rose!

The angels there attesting;
shroud with grave-clothes resting.

Christ, my hope, has risen:
he goes before you into Galilee.

That Christ is truly risen
from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show!

Paschal Candle – last year’s now, but splendid! St Catherine’s Catholic Church in St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.