Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Feast of the Sacred Heart: Tantum Ergo Sacramentum

"....veneremur cernui"

What followed 7:00pm holy Mass, was Benediction, then a procession to the large outdoor Grotto, as we do on all good-weather, summer Sundays following our 9:30am.

I'm going to stop here for the photo of the day, and bring more pictures from the Feast of the Sacred Heart in later posts. I want to focus on this for a moment. Note the priest bowing as he kneels. We had just begun the Tantum Ergo and I would like to highlight this "Sacred Moment".

From New Advent, the online Catholic Encyclopedia:


The opening words of the penultimate stanza of the Vesper hymn (see PANGE LINGUA GLORIOSI, II) of Corpus Christi. This stanza and the closing one, or doxology ("Genitori" etc.), form a separate hymn which is prescribed for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (q.v.).

In private exposition, where permission has been obtained to give benediction with the pyx, the two stanzas are recited by the priest (or sung by a choir, if this is feasible: "si fieri potest, optandum est", says Van der Stappen). In other expositions they must always be sung. Customs vary in respect of the method of singing. In some places the choir sings the two stanzas; in others, the celebrant sings the opening words of each stanza, the choir continuing. The Ritual (Tit. IX, c.5) speaks of all the clergy present singing the stanzas, and Scholber (Caeremoniae missarum solemnium et pontificalium), commenting on this, suggests that either the celebrant and assisting clergy should intone the first line of the stanza, or the choir alone should sing both stanzas.
A profound inclination of the head is made at the words "veneremur cernui" (Wapelhorst). The "American Ecclesiastical Review" (XXI, 1889, 644) points out that the rubrics do not prescribe an inclination of the head at the words "veneremur cernui", although the practice is frequent. Gardelllini, in his "Commentary on the Clementine Instruction" (XXIV, 9-10), cites the custom of the churches of Rome; and the Rituals before his day make mention of the profound inclination at the Tantum ergo down to the word "cernui": "nam in verbo cernui completur dictionis sensus, qui inclinationem postulat".

Continue reading Tantum Ergo...

So, what we have is a pious custom and a good one I believe. When I noticed the priests doing this, it led me to ponder the words I had put to memory. What did they mean? I had seen the English on the facing page many times, but never bothered much, until now.

Here is the first stanza in Latin:

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

Here it is in English.

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.

Looking at the first two lines, I can understand why we would want to bow.

Sacred Heart 2006 - Post 1

Sacred Heart 2006 - Post 2

Sacred Heart 2006 - Post 3