Corpus Christi Sequence in English?
  • Hello everyone!

    Does anyone have any versions of the Corpus Christi Sequence in English? Set to a chant would be preferable. Please write back asap, as we have choir practice tomorrow night...

    God bless,

  • I have an abridged version of the sequence (since it's optional anyways) set to the tune of Pange Lingua. We use 6 verses and we alternate between All, Women, and Men. It was very effective last year. Let me know if you are interested.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Fr. Weber has a version in English here:,170/
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,032
    You can find the same version as Fr. Weber's but without accompaniment here on page 83-85 (page 99-101 of the pdf) It's a bit easier to read. NB: large pdf file.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Thanks, Rich Enough! That version has been added here:,170/
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,388
    Oh my!

    Ralph, take it down!

    This is supposed to be a good and doctrinally sound translation? "Flesh is broken"? Come on!

    Would someone wish to begin a new discussion of this text?

    And how about calling out everyone adept at writing hymn parodies. You all can do better than this!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,451
    There's also some rhythm problems here and there, and a couple real mouthy rhymes.
    I'm not qualified to discuss doctrinal or translation issues, but it does seem a little weird here and there.

    I'm not sure who the translation is from, but the Wikipedia article has what strikes me as a very serviceable piece of work (that might admit to some slight improvements here and there).

    Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
    Praise thy Savior and thy King,
    Praise with hymns thy shepherd true.

    All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
    Yet thy praise can equal never
    Such as merits thy great King.

    See today before us laid
    The living and life-giving Bread,
    Theme for praise and joy profound.

    The same which at the sacred board
    Was, by our incarnate Lord,
    Giv'n to His Apostles round.

    Let the praise be loud and high:
    Sweet and tranquil be the joy
    Felt today in every breast.

    On this festival divine
    Which records the origin
    Of the glorious Eucharist.

    On this table of the King,
    Our new Paschal offering
    Brings to end the olden rite.

    Here, for empty shadows fled,
    Is reality instead,
    Here, instead of darkness, light.

    His own act, at supper seated
    Christ ordain'd to be repeated
    In His memory divine;

    Wherefore now, with adoration,
    We, the host of our salvation,
    Consecrate from bread and wine.

    Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
    That the bread its substance changeth
    Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.

    Doth it pass thy comprehending?
    Faith, the law of sight transcending
    Leaps to things not understood.

    Here beneath these signs are hidden
    Priceless things, to sense forbidden,
    Signs, not things, are all we see.

    Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
    Yet is Christ in either sign,
    All entire, confessed to be.

    They, who of Him here partake,
    Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
    But, entire, their Lord receive.

    Whether one or thousands eat:
    All receive the self-same meat:
    Nor the less for others leave.

    Both the wicked and the good
    Eat of this celestial Food:
    But with ends how opposite!

    Here 't is life: and there 't is death:
    The same, yet issuing to each
    In a difference infinite.

    Nor a single doubt retain,
    When they break the Host in twain,
    But that in each part remains
    What was in the whole before.

    Since the simple sign alone
    Suffers change in state or form:
    The signified remaining one
    And the same for evermore.

    Lo! bread of the Angels broken,
    For us pilgrims food, and token
    Of the promise by Christ spoken,
    Children’s meat, to dogs denied.

    Shewn in Isaac's dedication,
    In the manna's preparation:
    In the Paschal immolation,
    In old types pre-signified.

    Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
    Thou thy flock in safety keep,
    Living bread, thy life supply:
    Strengthen us, or else we die,
    Fill us with celestial grace.

    Thou, who feedest us below:
    Source of all we have or know:
    Grant that with Thy Saints above,
    Sitting at the feast of love,
    We may see Thee face to face.

    Amen. Alleluia.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,451
    The meter shifting is so odd to me (it's in the original).
    Is that a typical feature of medieval poetry or sequences in particular?
    Or just something more or less unique to this text?

    Also, as a side note, I love trochaic meters.
    I keep thinking I should start a poetry blog called "Double Trochee"
    The tag line would be "Poems made by Adam Michael"
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    I only compared the first first few verses, but this appears to be the exact same translation used in my OCP missalette, which, I assume, is the one found in the Lectionary? (which I do not have with me.)

    Therefore, direct all complaints to ICEL...

    (which is nearly identical to the one found on CCW, already posted above, except minus the "thy's" and "thou's.")

    Nothing new to see here, move along, folks...
    Thanked by 1Chris Hebard
  • Chris HebardChris Hebard
    Posts: 124
    The familiar escape clause "or another suitable song" is a rubric for the introit, offertory, and communion. It doesn't apply to the sequences. Either the English in the Lectionary, or the Latin in the Graduale, must be used; or it can be omitted, on Corpus Christi.
  • Zac
    Posts: 5
    I'm also looking for an English translation of the sequence set to the original chant. I've got a copy of the St Pauls Sunday Missal - an Australian publication I think. I can't seem to find any copies of it set to the chant though, and will probably end up setting the short form to square notes myself...unless someone already has it?

    "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."
  • The familiar escape clause "or another suitable song" is a rubric for the introit, offertory, and communion. It doesn't apply to the sequences. Either the English in the Lectionary, or the Latin in the Graduale, must be used; or it can be omitted, on Corpus Christi.
    But according to the United States' Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2007 document, "Sing to the Lord":
    166. The Sequence may be sung by all together, or in alternation between the congregation and choir and cantor, or by the choir or cantor alone. The text from the Lectionary for Mass may be used, or a metrical paraphrase may be sung, provided that it is found in an approved collection of liturgical songs.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,156
    Chris's reminder applies in Canada, though. And our translations of the Sequences are typically different from those in the US.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,157
    And it may not matter much, but "Sing to the Lord" isn't actual law, though I suppose it makes sense to treat it as an indication of what US bishops are generally willing to permit.
    Thanked by 1Ben
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 890
    Here's a version I put together: modern notation and English. I used the accompaniment book for the Graduale (from Solesmes) and wrote it out in Finale using the Lectionary (American) translation. It's the complete lectionary text, but the Gradual has more music. I'm not a Latin expert, so I don't know what was left out but it's the complete English text that appears in the lectionary. We don't sing the sequence as such, but I have had the choir sing it during communion or for for prelude. Not doing it this year, but perhaps someone out there can use it. If anyone wants the original Finale files to transpose or rework, let me know.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,451
    I don't know what was left out

    Like 14 verses. Sad.

    Also, this seems to be the same translations (shortened) shown above (which Fr. RK took issue with). I wonder whence its provenance.

    Also, I wonder, why the compilers/translators of the Lectionary treated the sequences with such... what's the word I'm looking for... stupidness. (cf. "hearts of yours")
  • SJBCmusic
    Posts: 36
    Here's a version in the older style of English and modern stemless notation. Here we sing stanzas 1-20 before Mass and 21-24 after the second reading. We do add an amen at the end, but no alleluia since the gospel acclamation follows immediately.
  • SJBCmusic
    Posts: 36
    PS - I don't understand why "flesh is broken" is objectionable. The English Hymnal/New English Hymnal has "Wine is poured and flesh is broken." My St. Andrew Missal has "Flesh from bread, and blood from wine," which isn't a literal translation of the Latin either. And, as others have pointed out, it's the official text of the American lectionary, which as far as I'm concerned makes it the preferred translation to sing, even if others are permissible.
  • Zac
    Posts: 5
    I've set my missal translation of the short version to the chant. I'm not musically trained, so I apologise in advance if it's awful.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,388
    Also, this seems to be the same translations (shortened) shown above (which Fr. RK took issue with). I wonder whence its provenance.

    Adam, very good question. I too wonder: Is there certainty that this text ever received an imprimatur? Has it received an imprimatur anywhere recently? I'm concerned because saying bread becomes Christ's "flesh" is not a correct statement of the Church's doctrine. So even if an imprimatur were to have been given, I would still wonder, "Why?"
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,388
    SJBCmusic, please see my response to Adam above.

    Neither The English Hymnal nor The New English Hymnal are Catholic hymnals bearing the imprimatur of a Catholic bishop. And that's where the most questionable text comes from.

    I also don't think the Saint Andrew Missal's "flesh from bread" correctly expresses Catholic doctrine. Now, that hand missal may bear an imprimatur. However, depending upon the date of publication, that English text may never have been intended for actual use, that is, to be sung, in the liturgy.
  • SJBCmusic
    Posts: 36
    Sorry, I typed that last reply very quickly and made an error. EH/NEH actually has "bread is broken." I meant to point out that "flesh is broken" should be considered an improvement in terms of expressing Catholic doctrine. I'll check my other missals/hymnals later today to see if I can find the source of that translation and whether it received an imprimatur at some point. The St. Andrew Missal certainly has an imprimatur, but the translations were not intended for actual liturgical use.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,156
    Verbum panem vero carnem.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,388
    Andrew, the full and correct quotation from the Pange Lingua Gloriosi is:
    Verbum caro panem verum
    Verbo carnem efficit;

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1373-1381, summarizes Catholic dogma on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Nowhere is the word "flesh" used; it's always "body." In his brilliant hymn St. Thomas Aquinas indeed does play on the word caro/carnem (flesh). But the Church does not use that word in its dogma.

    In his Bread of Life discourse (John 6), Jesus says in vs. 51: "I am the living bread come down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is my flesh for the light of the world." This verse introduces the word "flesh (Greek sarx)" into the discourse, and that word continues to be used through vs. 56 and leads to quarreling and controversy (and disbelief by many).

    So we have the biblical text which uses the word "flesh/sarx," and some of the Fathers used "sarx" in their writings and catechesis, but the Church's doctrine uses exclusively the Latin "corpus/body" instead of "flesh/caro." In the Eucharist we receive the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, not the flesh and blood, soul and divinity of Christ.
  • SJBCmusic
    Posts: 36
    St. Thomas Aquinas indeed does play on the word caro/carnem (flesh). But the Church does not use that word in its dogma.

    Are we to disregard the fact that the Corpus Christi sequence is a liturgical hymn by St. Thomas Aquinas, not a dogmatic treatise? The translation with the words "Blood is poured and flesh is broken" is covered under Cardinal Cushing's imprimatur of The Maryknoll Missal, November 26, 1965. The Latin text is "Caro cibus, sanguis potus." St. Thomas also uses flesh in stanza 11: "Dogma datur Christianis, / Quod in carnem transit panis, / Et vinum in sanquinem." In my opinion, we're best off just to translate the hymn itself as poetry and leave precise explanations of dogma for the homily.
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,388
    No, we are not to disregard the fact that the Corpus Christi sequence of St. Thomas Aquinas uses the word caro, which is not part of the Church's dogmatic definition from three centuries later. My point all along is that "flesh" should not be used in the English translation so as to reflect correct Catholic dogma, and not a correct translation of the Latin of the sequence.

    But if that terminology ("flesh") has been given an imprimatur, someone must think that it's OK to have a hymn text in English which does not perfectly express the Church's doctrine. And the Church has lived with this discrepancy in the Latin sequence and the dogmatic definition for 450 years now.

    Let's take this to the present and examine communion hymns. (Perhaps this should be a new thread? I think I'll start one.)
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,451
    saying bread becomes Christ's "flesh" is not a correct statement of the Church's doctrine.

    I'm sorry, but - huh?
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,388
    Adam, all I can say is you need to look it up for yourself. You'll learn something if you do.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,156
    /me smiles quietly
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 890
    I don't get your point either. John 6:52-56 continues:

    The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”
    Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
    Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
    For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
    Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

    That is from the NAB, i.e the current US lectionary translation. Is this an error as well?
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,388
    I'm sorry, but I seem to be unable to say it any clearer.

    I said above that John 6:52ff. uses the word "flesh/sarx."

    I also said that the Church's doctrine defined at Trent does not use the word "flesh," but rather "body."
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 890
    I get that, but I don't understand the distinction. Don't the two words essentially mean the same thing?
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,499
    Actually the Church at Trent uses that word twice in its Thirteenth Session.

    I could look for more instances if anyone would like.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood Robert
  • Fr Krisman

    I do not understand your objection to the use of the word "flesh" in the context of the real presence. The Lord used it. The Fathers used it. St Thomas used it. The Church's teaching has used it.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1373-1381, summarizes Catholic dogma on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Nowhere is the word "flesh" used; it's always "body."

    But the Catechism does often associate the real presence with Jesus' words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.

    Also, a little after the section that you refer to, the Catechism does refer to communion with his flesh: "Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: 'He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.' [...] What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh 'given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit,' preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism." (CCC 1391-2)

    the Church's doctrine uses exclusively the Latin "corpus/body" instead of "flesh/caro."

    If you mean that there is no dogmatic definition using the word "flesh", you may be correct. But the Church's teaching is not restricted to dogmatic formulas. The Magisterium certainly has referred to the presence of the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist. A few examples:

    In 1079, Pope St Gregory VII required Berengarius to swear an oath affirming that "the bread and wine that are placed on the altar are, through the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of the Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and proper and lifegiving flesh and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord" [panem et vinum, quae ponuntur in altari, per mysterium sacrae orationis et verba nostri Redemptoris substantialiter converti in veram et propriam ac vivificatricem carnem et sanguinem Iesu Christi Domini nostri]

    In its treatment of the doctrine of the Eucharist, the Council of Trent lamented those interpretations "whereby the verity of the flesh and blood of Christ is denied, contrary to the universal sense of the Church" [quibus veritas carnis et sanguinis Christi negatur, contra universum Ecclesiae sensum detorqueri] and affirmed that Jesus "gave us His own flesh to eat" [carnem suam nobis dedit ad manducandum]. So, while the word "flesh" does not appear in the dogmatic canons, the Decree on the Most Holy Eucharist certainly affirms that Christ has given us his flesh in the Eucharist.

    More recently, in the Encyclical Mysterium fidei, Paul VI refers to "the sacrament in which those who participate in it through holy Communion eat the flesh of Christ and drink the blood of Christ". [Sacramentum, cuius qui participes per sacram Communionem efficiuntur, carnem Christi manducant et sanguinem Christi bibunt]

    Later, Paul VI adopts the words of St Ignatius of Antioch and affirms that "the constant teaching that the Catholic Church has passed on to her catechumens, the understanding of the Christian people, the doctrine defined by the Council of Trent, the very words that Christ used when He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, all require us to profess that 'the Eucharist is the flesh of Our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins and which the Father in His loving kindness raised again.'" [Nam perpetua Ecclesiae Catholicae instructio, catechumenis tradita, populi christiani sensus, doctrina definita a Concilio Tridentino, ipsaque verba Christi sanctissimam Eucharistiam instituentis profiteri nos iubent «Eucharistiam carnem esse Salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi, quae pro peccatis nostris passa est, quamque Pater benignitate sua suscitavit»]

    He also approvingly quotes St Augustine: "It was in His flesh that Christ walked among us and it is His flesh that He has given us to eat for our salvation; but no one eats of this flesh without having first adored it . . . and not only do we not sin in thus adoring it, but we would be sinning if we did not do so." [ «In ipsa carne», inquit, «[Dominus] hic ambulavit et ipsam carnem nobis manducandam ad salutem dedit; nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit... et non solum non peccemus adorando, sed peccemus non adorando»]

    I could go on with quotations from John Paul II and Benedict XVI but this selection surely makes the point that one can legitimately speak of receiving the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist.

    In the Eucharist we receive the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, not the flesh and blood, soul and divinity of Christ.

    Again, are you saying that the flesh of Christ is not received in the Eucharist?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,157
    Father is alluding to a valid distinction: in receiving the Eucharist, one receives the *whole* body and blood of the risen and living Christ, not a fragment of flesh.

    If one thinks of "flesh" as ... some stuff, some meat ... it's not correct.

    If one understands the word "flesh" as referring to the whole body, the word is not so problematic. Perhaps the Catechism (in English at least) avoids "flesh" for this reason. A look at the other major languages might be instructive.

    (I'm not drawing any conclusions here about what is an appropriate expression in liturgical hymns: whatever is in St. Thomas is obviously OK!)
  • It is absolutely correct, of course, that in the Eucharist the whole Christ is received and not simply a fragment of his flesh. If that is the distinction Fr Krisman wishes to make, I will readily agree.

    My concern was that some of his statements above seem (to me at least) to go much further than that by denying that the flesh of Christ is received at all.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    If one understands the word "flesh" as referring to the whole body, the word is not so problematic.

    Exactly - it's called "synecdoche" and it's all over scripture. I can see why precise doctrinal formulas would tend to avoid it, but all things considered it isn't at all out of place in hymns.

    Fr. Krisman, are you making a "reductio ad absurdum" argument? If so could you elaborate, it isn't clear what position you are arguing against.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 890
    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all."
    (Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6)
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Adam Wood
  • Zac
    Posts: 5
    "flesh (n.)
    Old English flæsc "flesh, meat," also "near kindred" (a sense now obsolete except in phrase flesh and blood), common West and North Germanic (cf. Old Frisian flesk, Middle Low German vlees, German Fleisch "flesh," Old Norse flesk "pork, bacon"), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Proto-Germanic *flaiskoz-.

    Figurative use for "animal or physical nature of man" (Old English) is from the Bible, especially Paul's use of Greek sarx, which yielded sense of "sensual appetites" (c.1200)."
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,388
    Actually the Church at Trent uses that word twice in its Thirteenth Session.

    Yes, Kathy, you are correct that the October 11, 1551 Decree on the Holy Eucharist from session XIII of the Council of Trent contains two uses of the word “carnem” (flesh). As to the first, after referring to the scriptural testimony of the gospels and St. Paul, in which Christ gave his disciples his own very Body and Blood (se suum ipsius corpus illis praebere, ac suum sanguinem), the Council fathers refer to the wicked and contentious who deny the truth of the “flesh and blood” of Christ (quibus veritas carnis et sanguinis Christi negatur). The second use is further down in the decree, in which John 6:48ff is referenced, and to which I had already referred yesterday.

    But the decree, while expressing true Catholic doctrine, is not the Church's dogmatic statement on the real presence and transubstantiation that I have been referring to all along. That is found in two canons from the same session of the Council, which I provide below. I have highlighted the word “corpus” in each canon. The word “carnem” is not used in either canon. (The numbers are from "DS," the Denzinger-Schönmetzer Enchiridion Symbolorum.)

    1651 883 Can. l. Si quis negaverit, in sanctissimae Eucharistiae sacramento contineri vere, realiter et substantialiter, corpus et sanguinem una cum anima et divinitate Domini nostri Jesu Christi ac proinde totum Christum; sed dixerit, tantummodo esse in eo ut in signo vel figura, aut virtute: anathema sit (cf. DS 1636 1640).

    1652 884 Can. 2. Si quis dixerit, in sacrosancto Eucharistiae sacramento remanere substantiam panis et vini una cum corpore et sanguine Domini nostri Jesu Christi, negaveritque mirabilem illam et singularem conversionem totius substantiae panis in corpus et totius substantiae vini in sanguinem, manentibus dumtaxat speciebus panis et vini, quam quidem conversionem catholica Ecclesia aptissime transsubstantiationem appellat: an. s. (cf. DS 1642).

    Robert asked if I am making a “reductio ad adsurdum” argument. Absolutely not. I believe that we receive the entire Christ in the eucharistic species: Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity (vere, realiter et substantialiter, corpus et sanguinem una cum anima et divinitate).

    Since that is the Church’s defined dogma, that’s the way I wish to have it and to refer to this awesome mystery: Body of Christ, instead of Flesh of Christ.

  • Ralph BednarzRalph Bednarz
    Posts: 489
    I love this sequence and I like the translation. I used the text as found in the OCP worship aid.(so it must be official) - smply because the congregation can follow along. text and tune offer challenges. Though a rigid hymn form and the well defined (though contrived ) rhyme schemes are valid together (especially with catecetichal content) they can easily fail when translated from a Latin oriented language where rhyming is of a subtle gramtical (at times semantic) value. A speech oriented chant rythm interpretation at a good clip, and identifying an accent other than the final rhyme will bring out the rhetorical beauty here. Should the melody be altered to fit the English text? Should we have a prose text and a free chant?