ULTON J. SHEEN used to say: “Three things cooperated in our fall: a disobedient man, ADAM; a proud woman, EVE; and a TREE. God takes these elements and uses them as the instruments of victory: the obedient new Adam, CHRIST; the humble new Eve, MARY; and the tree of the CROSS.” He was taking this idea from the PANGE LINGUA of Bishop Fortunatus, who lived in the 6th century. I often wonder how many Catholics can talk intelligently about the “double” PANGE LINGUA. Could 1% of Catholics? Or even fewer than that? Essentially, there is a double PANGE LINGUA right smack dab in the center of the liturgical year: One for Holy Thursday (Saint Thomas Aquinas), the other for Good Friday. In the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal, both hymns are given splendid melodies and multiple translations.
Father Caswall • The English translation by Father Edward Caswall (d. 1878) is one of his best. It’s elegant, faithful to the Latin, and flows nicely. Here it is sung by my volunteer choir:
M To access this hymn’s media in the Brébeuf Portal, click here.
“Flecte Ramos, Arbor Alta” • One of my favorite verses from the PANGE LINGUA of Bishop Fortunatus is the Flecte ramos verse. The Campion Missal gives several translations:
O lofty tree, bend thy branches, relax the tension of thy fibres, soften that rigidness—with which nature has endowed thee—and offer a more tender support to the members of thy dying King.
Bend thy branches down to meet him,
Bend that stubborn heart of thine;
Let thy native force, to greet him,
All its ruggedness resign;
Gently let thy wood entreat him,
Royal suff(e)rer, and divine.
Roman Catholic Primer (1717AD):
Tall Cedar rais’d to mate the Sky!
Hard as thou art, now mollify,
And teach Men how to treat their God:
Bow gently down beneath thy Load,
That unrelenting Man may learn
To change his Heart and feel Concern.
It’s very difficult to think of a more supreb hymn than the Good Friday PANGE LINGUA.
Random Samples • A few recent songs our choir sang:
* Mp3 Download • “Stabat Mater”
—Translation: Historic Roman Catholic Translation (1687AD).
* Mp3 Download • “Kyrie Eleyson”
—This will be sung at this year’s Sacred Music Symposium.
Please be warned: Choral sounds often come out harsh and poorly balanced, owing to the nature of microphones. A microphone is not able to accurately reproduce the complex, rich, beautiful choral sound.