On the Liturgy

Pange Lingua
Thomas Aquinas

Pange lingua is about the Holy Eucharist, the sacrament in which bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is still sung worldwide at Roman Catholic services, particularly on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter).

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
quem in mundi pretium
fructus ventris generosi
Rex effudit Gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus
ex intacta Virgine,
et in mundo conversatus,
sparso verbi semine,
sui moras incolatus
miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte cenae
recumbens cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,
cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.

Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
veneremur cernui:
et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui:
praestet fides supplementum
sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
laus et iubilatio,
salus, honor, virtus quoque
sit et benedictio:
procedenti ab utroque
compar sit laudatio.
Amen. Alleluia.

Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
Of His flesh the mystery sing,
Of the blood, all price exceeding,
Shed by our immortal King,
Destined, for the world’s redemption,
From a noble womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless virgin,
Born for us, His love to show,
He, as man, with man conversing,
Stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
Then He closed in wondrous fashion,
This His life on earth below.

On the night of that Last Supper,
Seated with His chosen band,
He, the paschal victim eating,
First fulfills the law’s command;
Then as food to all His brethren
Gives Himself with His own hand.

Christ, the Word made Flesh, by speaking,
Earthly bread to flesh He turns;
Wine becomes His blood so precious—
Unconceived in human terms!
Hearts sincere perceive this marvel;
Faith its lessons quickly learns.

Down in adoration falling,
This great sacrament we hail;
Over ancient forms of worship
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith tells us that Christ is present
When our human senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who made us free,
And the Spirit, God proceeding,
From them each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.

Translated by Edward Caswall in 1849. Note that this is a lyrical translation used when singing the hymn.

Literal Translation:
Praise, my tongue, the mystery of the glorious body and of the precious blood which the king of nations, fruit of a royal womb, poured out as the world's ransom. To us he was given, to us he was born of a pure virgin. He lived in the world and when he had spread the seed of truth, he closed in a wondrous way the period of his sojourn here. As he is reclining with his brethren on the night of the last supper, he complied completely with the law in regard to the legal foods and then gives himself with his own hands as food to the group of twelve. The word made flesh by a word changes true bread into his flesh, and wine becomes his blood. If man cannot perceive this change, faith of itself is enough to convince the well-disposed. Let us, therefore, humbly reverence so great a sacrament. Let the old types depart and give way to the new rite. Let faith provide her help where all the senses fail. To the Father and the Son be praise, acclamation, salvation, honor, might, and blessing, too. To the One who poceeds from them both be given equal praise.

Translation from Manual of Prayers, Midwest Theological Forum, 1998.