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"There he is: King of Kings and Lord of Lords, hidden in the Bread. To this extreme has he humbled himself, through love for you." – Saint Josemaria in The Way, n. 538
"Sion, Lift Up Thy Voice And Sing"
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) originated in the Middle Ages as a fruit of Eucharistic piety and to reaffirm the Church’s teaching after several doctrinal controversies surrounding the Eucharist. This feast was celebrated for the first time in Liege in 1247 at the request of St. Juliana of Mont-Cornillon, a religious who devoted a great part of her life to fostering devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Moved by the Eucharistic miracle at Bolsena (the monumental Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy, is shaped like a giant reliquary in witness to this miracle), Pope Urban IV established the solemnity in honor of the Most Holy Sacrament for the Thursday after the Octave of Pentecost in the universal calendar.
In 1264, when Pope Urban IV officially added the Solemnity of Corpus Christi to the Church's liturgical calendar, he asked St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the liturgy for it. As a result, St Thomas is the person responsible for the lyrics of many Eucharistic "hits" that have been set to music by different composers –in a wide variety of styles– over time. His well-known Eucharistic hymns include the following:
- Panis Angelicus ("Bread of Angels")
- Adore Te Devote ("I Devoutly Adore You")
- O Sacrum Convivium ("O Sacred Banquet")
- O Salutaris Hostia ("O Saving Victim")
- Pange Lingua ("Sing, My Tongue, The Saviour's Glory")
- Lauda Sion ("Sion, Lift Up Thy Voice And Sing")
You could say that this makes St. Thomas Aquinas not only one of the greatest Doctors of the Church, but also a tireless lyricist. St Thomas also composed the texts and the hymns for the various hours of the Divine Office which are still sung to this day. These hymns provide our soul the language of worship of and devotion to the Holy Eucharist. Listening to Eucharistic hymns and praying with the lyrics can help us go deeper in this great mystery of faith.
“Be a eucharistic soul! If the center around which your thoughts and hopes turn is the Tabernacle, then, my child, how abundant the fruits of your sanctity and apostolate will be!” – Saint Josemaria in The Forge, n. 835