Tantum ergo are the opening words of the last two verses of Pange Lingua, a Mediaeval Latin hymn written by St Thomas Aquinas. These last two verses are sung during veneration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church and other churches that practice this devotion. It is usually sung, though solemn recitation is sometimes done, and permitted..
The basic text has been set by numerous composers from the Renaissance (Palestrina), the Romantic period (Faure), and contemporary composers (David Conte).
|Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.
V. Panem de caelis praestitisti eis (in Paschaltide, 'Alleluia' is added).
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem[Wis 16:20] (in Paschaltide, 'Alleluia' is added).
Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.
- Hence so great a Sacrament
- Let us venerate with heads bowed [cernui]
- And let the old practice [documentum]
- Give way to the new rite;
- Let faith provide a supplement
- For the failure of the senses.
- To the Begetter and the Begotten [both masculine gender],
- Be praise and jubilation,
- Hail, honor, virtue also,
- And blessing too:
- To the One proceeding from Both
- Let there be equal praise.
V. You have provided them bread from heaven.
R. Having in itself [in se] all delight [delectamentum].
V. Let us pray: O God, who to us in this wonderful Sacrament, bequeathed a memorial of your Passion: grant, we beseech, that we, in worshiping [venerari; in addition to simple worship, may also mean worshiping in order to receive favor] the Holy Mysteries of your body and blood, may within ourselves continually [iugiter], sensibly perceive [sentiamus] the fruit of your redemption. You who live and reign into ages of ages.
A translation over a hundred years old and still used in Catholic churches liturgically renders the hymn thus, in a form which can be sung to the same music as the Latin:
- Down in adoration falling,
- Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
- Lo! o'er ancient forms departing
- Newer rites of grace prevail;
- Faith for all defects supplying,
- Where the feeble senses fail.
- To the everlasting Father,
- And the Son Who reigns on high
- With the Holy Ghost proceeding
- Forth from Each eternally,
- Be salvation, honor, blessing,
- Might and endless majesty.
V. Thou hast given them bread from heaven.
R. Having within it all Sweetness.
V. Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.
Other, more modern English translations, such as this one, exist and are also used in Catholic churches liturgically.
The words "procedenti ab utroque / compar sit laudatio"--literally, "May equal praise be to the One proceeding from both"--refer to the Holy Spirit, who according to the later version of the Nicene Creed used in Western Christianity proceeds from both the Father and the Son (see Filioque). Many Eastern Christians do not share this belief that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.
- ^ See, e.g., benediction in English at St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfTTtlDOFcg , at about 1:30, for an example of benediction in the Episcopal Church USA. For an example in the Roman Catholic Church, in Latin, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwH_mxqnoHE&t=18m26s .
- ^ "Tantum Ergo". Catholic Encyclopedia.. This citation refers only to the practice of the Catholic Church prior to the liturgical changes of Vatican II.
- ^ See the note on "caelis" vs. "caelo," below, for a print source for the Latin text.
- ^ The word "caelis", not "caelo", is used in Finnegan, Sean. The Book of Catholic Prayer. 2000: Loyola Press. p. 521. The book prints the entire text of the prayer.
- ^ "Salus." The verb associated with "salus" is "sit" in the following line. The meaning most appropriate for "salus" here is meaning I.B. in the Lewis & Short Latin dictionary at Perseus, "a wish for one's welfare (expressed by word of mouth or in writing), a greeting, salute, salutation." There is no word in modern English that captures the sense used here exactly, but it is similar to the archaic "hail" as in "Hail to the chief." The Lewis & Short Dictionary gives another example of the same usage of "salus" from the comedy writer Plautus: "Non ego sum salutis dignus?" Literally, "Am I not worthy of your good wishes?" or "Am I not worthy of your hail"?
- ^ For other examples of Latin use of the word "virtus" by St. Thomas Aquinas, here translated "virtue", see the Latin of the Summa Theologica, e.g. . For a discussion of the translation of the triplet "salus, honor, virtus" as the "three good wishes" customarily given to rulers, see e.g. robdick's comments at .
- ^ Source: p. 63-64, "Hymns and Poems, Original and Translated" by Edward Caswall, 1873. 
- ^ See e.g., accessed May 2, 2009
- ^ Current as of April 2, 2010. "Down in adoration falling / This great Sacrament we hail..."
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