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Hymn of the Week: ‘Ave Verum’

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Our musical interlude this Sunday, the first of Lent, is sung by the City Choir of Washington at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia.

It’s the Communion hymn being sung by our choir this weekend.

Wikipedia notes:

Ave verum corpus” is a short Eucharistic hymn that has been set to music by various composers. It dates from the 14th century and has been attributed to Pope Innocent VI.

During the Middle Ages it was sung at the elevation of the host during the consecration. It was also used frequently during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The words, translated:

Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
having truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
from whose pierced side
water and blood flowed:
Be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death!

O sweet Jesus, O holy Jesus,
O Jesus, son of Mary,
have mercy on me. Amen.

This setting is by the 19th century French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, who may be best known for the “Carnival of the Animals.”

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