5 St. Thomas Aquinas Poems for April

Poetry and hymns are a carry over from my childhood homeschool days. My mother encouraged us to memorize the works of poets like Joyce Kilmer and Strickland Gillilan, and also took the time after lunch to serenade us at the piano with Blessed Assurance and other traditional hymns of the south. Now in my home, both forms are used in several similar ways. This is not at all surprising when we consider that hymns are poems of praise set to music. I hope to elaborate on how we incorporate poetry and hymns into the the liturgy of our family life in a later post, so they are simply listed for reference and ideas here.

  • Catechesis
  • CelebraTeas
  • Commonplacing – Florilegium entries
  • Dictation
  • Handwriting
  • Liturgical Living
  • Memorization – a couple stanzas of large works
  • Narration
  • Reading/Singing for beauty and enjoyment
  • Vocabulary enrichment

How does your family delight in poetry and hymns? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 

Since April is National Poetry Month and also the month that the Church has dedicated to the Most Blessed Sacrament, I want to share with your family the five Eucharistic Hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas that our family will be looking at for April, and especially Maundy Thursday. I have pulled out some excerpts below as each poem/hymn is at least four stanzas, but I have also provided them in their entirety within the the printable document at the end of this post.

After Pope Urban IV instituted the Feast of Corpus Christ as a Solemnity in 1264, he commissioned St. Thomas Aquinas to pen a new Office (prayers for the monastic daily prayers, liturgy of the hours) for its commemoration. This Office included the following hymns:

1. Adore Te Devote – Hidden God

A hymn of Thanksgiving

On the cross was veiled Thy Godhead’s splendor,
here Thy manhood lies hidden too; unto both
alike my faith I render, and, as sued the contrite
thief, I sue.

Though I look not on Thy wounds with Thomas,
Thee, my Lord, and Thee, my God, I call: make
me more and more believe Thy promise, hope in
Thee, and love Thee over all.

O memorial of my Savior dying, Living Bread,
that gives life to man; make my soul, its life from
Thee supplying, taste Thy sweetness, as on earth
it can.

Deign, O Jesus, Pelican of heaven, me, a sinner,
in Thy Blood to lave, to a single drop of which is
given all the world from all its sin to save.

 

2. Lauda Sion – Laud, O Zion

The Gospel sequence

What at Supper Christ completed
He ordained to be repeated,
in His memory Divine.
Wherefore now, with adoration,
we, the Host of our salvation,
consecrate from bread and wine.

Words a nature’s course derange,
that in Flesh the bread may change
and the wine in Christ’s own Blood.
Does it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of light transcending,
leaps to things not understood.

 

3. Pange Lingua – Sing, My Tongue

For Vespers. This Tantum Ergo excerpt is now sung at Benediction

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 sense 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.
Amen. Alleluia.

 

4. Sacris Solemniis – At This Our Solemn Feast

For Matins. Panis Angelicus excerpt

Thus Angels’ Bread is made
the Bread of man today:
the Living Bread from heaven
with figures dost away:
O wondrous gift indeed!
the poor and lowly may
upon their Lord and Master feed.

Thee, therefore, we implore,
O Godhead, One in Three,
so may Thou visit us
as we now worship Thee;
and lead us on Thy way,
That we at last may see
the light wherein Thou dwellest aye.

 

5. Verbum Supernum Prodiens – The Word of God

For Lauds. O Saving Victim excerpt also sung at Benediction

O saving Victim, opening wide
the gate of heaven to all below
our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.

To Thy great Name be endless praise,
immortal Godhead, One in Three!
O grant us endless length of days
in our true native land with Thee. Amen.

 

(Just click on the picture to download)

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