Ad regias Agni dapes
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Author: Ambrosian, 7th cent.
Meter: Iambic dimeter.
Translation by Robert Campbell.
There are about thirty translations.
First line of Original Text: Ad Cœnam Agni providi.
Liturgical Use: Vespers hymn from Low Sunday
to Ascension Day. This hymn was greatly altered by the revisers
under Urban VIII (1632); only three lines remained
unaltered. There are ten translations of this hymn in Mr.
Shipley’s Annus Sanctus, both texts being represented. Of
the translations of the Roman Breviary Text, Mr. Campbell’s
is more extensively used than all the others combined. it
is not so literal as some other translations, but it is a hymn
of great beauty, and it is not surprising that is is found in
so many hymn books.
- Ad regias Agni dapes,
Stolis amicti candidis,
Post transitum Maris rubri,
Christo canamus Principi:
- Divina cujus caritas
Sacrum propinat sanguinem,
Almique membra corporis
Amor sacerdos immolat.
- Sparsum cruorem postibus
Vastator horret Angelus:
Fugitque divisum mare:
Merguntur hostes fluctibus.
- Jam Pascha nostrum Christus est,
Paschalis idem victima,
Et pura puris mentibus
- O vera cœli victima,
Subjecta cui sunt tartara,
Soluta mortis vincula,
Recepta vitæ præmia.
- Victor subactis inferis
Trophæ Christus explicat,
Cœloque aperto, subditum
Regem tenebrarum trahit.
- Ut sis perenne mentibus
Paschale Jesu gaudium,
A morte dira criminum
Vitæ renatos libera.
- Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito,
In sempiterna sæcula.
- At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from His pierced side.
- Praise we Him whose love divine
Gives the guests His Blood for wine,
Gives His Body for the feast,
Love the victim, love the priest.
- Where the Paschal blood is poured,
Death’s dark Angel sheathes his sword;
Israel’s hosts triumphant go
Through the wave that drowns the foe.
- Christ, the Lamb whose Blood was shed,
Pascal victim, Paschal bread;
With sincerity and love
Eat we manna from above.
- Might Victim from the sky,
Powers of hell beneath Thee lie;
Death is conquered in the fight;
Thou hast brought us life and light.
- Now Thy banner Thou dost wave;
Vanquished Satan and the grave;
Angels join His praise to tell—
See o’erthrown the prince of hell.
- Paschal triumph, Paschal joy,
Only sin can this destroy;
From the death of sin set free,
Souls re-born, dear Lord, in Thee.
- Hymns of glory, songs of praise,
Father, unto Thee we raise;
Risen Lord, all praise to Thee,
Ever with the Spirit be.
In the Ad regias Agni dapes, there is reference to the
ancient custom of administering to catechumens the sacraments
of Baptism and Holy Communion. Originally there
was no Mass on Holy Saturday proper. The long but beautiful
ceremonies began Saturday evening and lasted
throughout the night. The Litany and Mass were sung towards
the morning. During Mass the neophytes, vested in
beautiful white robes (stolæ albæ), were admitted for the
first time to the “banquet of the Lamb,” i.e., to the
Eucharistic table. The white garments were worn during
the week following Easter, and on Low Sunday the newly
baptized appeared for the first time without their white
robes. It is for this reason that Low Sunday is known in
the language of the Church as Dominica in Albis (depositis),
i.e., the Sunday on which the newly baptized appeared
after laying aside their white baptismal robes.
Read the articles on Catechumen, Holy Saturday, Baptism
(esp. part XV), Red Sea (esp. the last paragraph), in
the Cath. Encycl.
- “After the passage of the Red Sea, clothed in white
robes at the royal banquet of the Lamb, let us sing to
Christ our King.” Stolis: The stole was originally a long,
beautiful, flowing outer garment. Maris rubri: The Red Sea
is a symbol of Baptism. Et omnes in Moyse baptizati sunt
in nube et in mari (I Cor. 10, 2). Under the leadership of
Moses, who was a figure of Christ, the Jews received Baptism
in figure by their passage through the Red Sea. Thus
also by eating of the manna, they partook in figure of the
Eucharistic manna (cf. Exodus 13). The following is Father
Husenbeth’s translation of this stanza:
|Come to the regal feast displayed,|
In robes of purest white arrayed,
The Red Sea’s threatening perils past,
And sing to Christ secure at last.
- “His divine charity gives us His sacred Blood to
drink; and love, as priest, immolates the members of His
- “The destroying Angel sees with awe the blood upon
the door-posts: the sea divided flees, the foe is overwhelmed
by the waters.” The sprinkling of the door-posts of the
Israelites with blood of the Paschal Lamb, to preserve
them from the sword of the destroying Angel, is a figure of
our redemption by the Blood of Him whom the Paschal
Lamb prefigured (cf. Ex. 12, 22-23). Divisum mare: (cf.
Ex. 14, 22-31).
- “Now Christ is our Pasch, and the same is our
Paschal victim, and the pure unleavened bread of sincerity
for pure souls.” Victima paschalis, Paschal Lamb. Itaque
epulemur, non in fermento veteri, neque in fermento malitiæ
et nequitiæ, sed in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis (I Cor.
5, 8). Leaven is a symbol of corruption, hence of sin: unleavened
bread is symbolical of purity and of freedom from
- “O true Victim of heaven, by whom hell was vanquished,
the bonds of death were broken, and the rewards
of life regained.” Cui = a quo: in the passive, this use of
the dative is quite common.
- “Hell having been subdued, Christ as victor displays
His trophies; and, heaven opened, He drags behind Him
the vanquished king of darkness.” Trahit (post se).
- “That Thou, O Jesus, mayest be an everlasting
Paschal joy to our hearts, deliver us re-born to life, from a
dire death of sin.”
Copyright Benziger Brothers, 1922. Online Edition Copyright David M. Cheney, 2019.