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Pange lingua gloriosi

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle

The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal

  1. Pange lingua gloriosi
    Lauream certaminis,
    Et super Crucis trophæo
    Dic triumphum nobilem:
    Qualiter Redemptor orbis
    Immolatus vicerit.
  2. De parentis protoplasti
    Fraude Factor condolens,
    Quando pomi noxialis
    In necem morsu ruit:
    Ipse lignum tunc notavit,
    Damna ligni ut solveret.
  3. Hoc opus nostræ salutis
    Ordo depoposcerat;
    Multiformis proditoris
    Ars ut artem falleret,
    Et medelam ferret inde,
    Hostis unde læserat.
  4. Quando venit ergo sacri
    Plenitudo temporis,
    Missus est ab arce Patris
    Natus, orbis Conditor;
    Atque ventre virginali
    Carne amictus prodiit.
  5. Vagit infans inter arcta
    Conditus præsepia:
    Membra pannis envoluta
    Vrigo Mater alligat:
    Et Dei manus pedesque
    Stricta cingit fascia.
  6. Lustra sex qui jam peregit,
    Tempus implens corporis,
    Sponte libera Redemptor
    Passioni deditus,
    Agnus in Crucis levatur
    Immolandus stipite.
  7. Felle potus ecce languet:
    Spina, clavi, lancea
    Mite corpus perforarunt:
    Unda manat, et cruor:
    Terra, pontus, astra, mundus,
    Quo lavantur flumine!
  8. Crux fidelis, inter omnes
    Arbor una nobilis:
    Silva talem nulla profert
    Fronde, flore, germine:
    Dulce ferrum, dulce lignum,
    Dulce pondus sustinent.
  9. Flecte ramos arbor alta,
    Tensa laxa viscera,
    Et rigor lentescat ille,
    Quem dedit nativitas;
    Et superni membra regis
    Tende miti stipite.
  10. Sola digna tu fuisti
    Ferre mundi victimam;
    Atque portum præparare
    Arco mundo naufrago,
    Quam sacer cruor perunxit,
    Fusus Agni corpore.
  11. Sempiterna sit beatæ
    Trinitati gloria,
    Æqua Patri, Filioque;
    Par decus Paraclito:
    Unius Trinique nomen
    Laudet universitas.
  1. Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle
    Sing the last, the dread affray;
    O’er the Cross, the victor’s trophy,
    Sound the high triumphal lay:
    Tell how Christ, the world’s Redeemer,
    As a victim won the day.
  2. God, His Maker, sorely grieving
    That the first-made Adam fell,
    When he ate the fruit of sorrow,
    Whose reward was death and hell,
    Noted then this Wood, the ruin
    Of the ancient wood to quell.
  3. For the work of our salvation
    Needs would have his order so,
    And the multiform deceiver’s
    Art by art would overthrow,
    And from thence would bring the med’cine
    Whence the insult of the foe.
  4. Wherefore, when the sacred fulness
    Of the appointed time was come,
    This world’s Maker left His Father,
    Sent the heav’nly mansion from,
    And proceeded, God Incarnate,
    Of the Virgin’s holy womb.
  5. Weeps the Infant in the manger
    That in Bethlehem’s stable stands;
    And His limbs the Virgin Mother
    Doth compose is swaddling bands,
    Meetly thus in linen folding
    Of her God the feet and hands.
  6. Thirty years among us dwelling,
    His appointed time fulfilled,
    Born for this, He meets His Passion,
    For that this He freely willed:
    On the Cross the Lamb is lifted,
    Where His life-blood shall be spilled.
  7. He endured the nails, the spitting,
    Vinegar, and spear, and reed;
    From that holy Body broken
    Blood and water forth proceed:
    Earth, and stars, and sky, and ocean,
    By that flood from stain are free.
  8. Faithful Cross! above all other,
    One and only noble Tree!
    None in foliage, none in blossom,
    None in fruit thy peers may be;
    Sweetest Wood and sweetest Iron!
    Sweetest Weight is hung on thee.
  9. Bend thy boughs, O Tree of glory!
    Thy relaxing sinews bend;
    For awhile the ancient rigor,
    That thy birth bestowed, suspend;
    And the King of heavenly beauty
    On thy bosom gently tend!
  10. Thou alone wast counted worthy
    This world’s ransom to uphold;
    For a shipwrecked race preparing
    Harbor, like the Ark of old;
    With the sacred Blood anointed
    From the smitten lamb that rolled.
  11. To the Trinity be glory
    Everlasting, as is meet;
    Equal to the Father, equal
    To the Son, and Paraclete:
    Trinal Unity, whose praises
    All created things repeat.
Author: Venantius Fortunatus (530-609). Meter: Trochaic tetrameter catalectic. Translation by J. M. Neale. There are about twenty-five translations, four of which are in Mr. Shipley’s Annus Sanctus. Liturgical Use: The Pange lingua is in use both the Missal and the Breviary. Missal use: The whole hymn (eleven stanzas) is recited or sung during the “Adoration of the Cross” in the morning service on Good Friday. Breviary use: For Office use, the hymn is divided into two equal parts with a common doxolgy. The first five stanzas are assigned to Matins from Passion Sunday to the Wednesday of Holy Week, inclusive. The same stanzas form the Matins hymn for the Feasts of the Finding (May 3) and of the Exaltation (Sept. 14) of the Holy Cross. The remaining five stanzas, beginning with Lustra sex, are used in Lauds whenever the Pange lingua is used in Matins. Read the article on the Pange lingua gloriosi, in the Cath. Encycl. In the opinion of Dr. Julian, this noble hymn is “one of the finest of the Latin Medieval Hymns, and perhaps the best of its author” (Dict. of Hymnology, p. 880). Neale places it “in the very first class of Latin Hymns” (Medieval Hymns, p. 1). Dr. Neale’s translation above is of the Original Text. The hymn was not greatly altered by the revisers.

  1. “Sing, O my tongue, the victory in that glorious combat, and, of the trophy of the Cross, sing a noble song of triumph, recounting how the Redeemer of the world, when immolated, conquered.” Pange, frame, i.e., sing, celebrate in song. It has the same meaning as dic in l. 4. Daniel, in his Thes. Hymnol. lists fourteen hymns beginning with the words Pange lingua. Lauream, victory; the Original Text has prœlium, which to the revisers under Urban VIII seemed tautological. Neale, however, maintains that prœlium is the better word, for—“It is not to the glory of the termination of Our Lord’s Conflict with the devil that the poet would have us look, but to the glory of the struggle itself, as indeed he tells us at the conclusion of hte verse” (Medieval Hymns, p. 4). Certaminis: The contest between Christ and Satan for the possession of the human race (cf. Gen. 3, 15). Super = de, of, about, concerning. Trophæo: a sign or token of victory. Originally the trophæum consisted of the trunk of a tree hung around with some of the arms, shields, helmets, and other spoils taken from the enemy. Later, however, the trophy appeared in the form of a monument made of stone, bronze, etc., which was erected either on the field of battle or in the victor’s home city.
  2. “Deeply grieved by the infidelity of the first-created man, when by the eating of the fatal fruit he rushed headlong to death, the Creator Himself then chose the tree that would undo the harm wrought by the former tree.”
    He then resolved the Cross’s wood
    Should make that tree’s sad damage good.
    Ipse lignum tunc notavit: There is an ancient legend that the Cross of Christ sprang from a seed or bough of the Tree of Life. In her Christian Life in Song, Mrs. Charles gives the following version of the legend: “When Adam died, Seth obtained from the guardian cherubim of Paradise a branch of the tree from which Eve ate the forbidden fruit. This he planted on Golgotha, called the place of the scull, because Adam was buried there. From this tree, as the ages rolled on, were made the ark of the testimony, the pole on which the brazen serpent was lifted up, and other instruments; and from its wood, at length, then grown old and hard, was made the Cross.”
  3. “This work the plan of our salvation demanded, that art might outwit the art of the multiform deceiver, and thence bring the remedy whence the foe wrought the injury.” Ars, the wisdom of God; artem, the cunning of Satan. Multiformis: Satan has appeared under various forms: To Eve as a serpent (Gen. 3, 1); to Christ in the desert, as a man (Matt. 4, 1-10); to the Saints in various forms; and he may appear even as an angel of light (II Cor. 11, 14). Et medelam ferret inde ... unde: This thought is beautifully expressed in the Preface of the Cross:—Qui salutem humani generis in ligno crucis constituisti, ut unde mors oriebatur, inde vita resurgeret, et qui (the serpent) in ligno vincebat, in ligno quoque vinceretur.
  4. “As an Infant, He cries, hidden in a narrow manger: the Virgin-Mother swathes His limbs wrapped up in swaddling-clothes, and a tight band binds the hands and feet of God.” The following translation of this stanza, from the Divine Office, 1763, is very beautiful:
    Thus God-made-Man an Infant lies,
    And in the manger weeping cries;
    His scared limbs by Mary bound,
    The poorest tattered rags surround;
    And God’s incarnate feet and hands
    Are closely bound with swathing-bands.
    Annus Santus, p. 100.
    Conditus: some texts have positus. Note the play on the word Conditor; the infinite Conditor of the preceding stanza is here conditus, hidden, sheltered. Fascia may be either the subject of cingit, or the ablative. In the latter case Virgo-Mater is the subj. of cingit; viz., the Virgin-Mother, with a tight band, binds the hands and feet of God. The former is preferable.
  5. “When He had lived thirty years, completing the period of His earthly sojourning, the Redeemer, of His own free will, gave Himself up to His Passion, and as a Lamb to be slaughtered, He was lifted up on the tree of the Cross.” Lustra: lustrum, a period of five years: it is here the accusative of time denoting how long. Sponte libera: Oblatus est quia ipse voluit, et non aperuit os suum: sicut ovis ad occisionem ducetur, et quasi agnus coram tondente se obmutescet, et non aperiet os suum (Is. 53, 7). Agnus: The Paschal Lamb of the Old Law was a most striking figure of Christ, the “Lamb of God.” Read the article on Lamb, Paschal in the Cath. Encycl. Read also Exodus 12, 3-11.
  6. “He partakes of gall; lo, He swoons: thorns, nails, and a lance pierce His tender body: water flows forth, and blood; by which flood, the earth, the sea, the stars, and the whole world is purified.” Potus: perf. part. passive, used frequently in an active sense, signifying one who has drunk or partaken of something. The allusion is to the potion offered to our Blessed Lord before His crucifixion. Et dederunt ei vinum bibere cum felle mistum. Et cum gustasset, noluit bibere. (Matt. 27, 34: cf. also Mark 15, 23.) It was customary in ancient times to offer to one about to be crucified a potion to sustain him or to deaden his sensibilities. This drink Our Lord merely tasted. Languet: He grows weak; languet is entirely independent of felle potus. Quo lavantur flumine: Of the cleansing power of the Precious Blood, St. Thomas, in the Adoro Te devote sings:
    Cujus una stilla salvum facere
    Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

    Whereof one only drop, in Thy sweet mercy spilt,
    Would have the power to cleanse the world from all its guilt.
  7. “O faithful (Tree of the) Cross! the one noble Tree among all trees: no forest yields thy like in foliage, flower, and fruit: sweet iron, sweet wood, that bear so sweet a burden.” This stanza is one of great beauty. Fidelis: The Tree of Eden (Gen. 3, 1-7) was perfidious; the Tree on Calvary has become the very symbol of faith. What other tree can ever hope to bear foliage, flowers, and fruit of infinite worth and beauty!
  8. “Bend thy limbs, O lofty Tree, relax thy tense fibers, and let that hardness which thy nature gave thee, unbend; and stretch on thy softened trunk the members of the heavenly King.”
  9. “Thou alone wast deemed worthy to bear the Victim of the world; and as an Ark, to provide a haven for a shipwrecked world; which (ark) the sacred blood poured forth from the body of the Lamb hath anointed.” Arca: “In stanza 10, the Cross seems to be regarded, by a change of figure, as a ship in which the faithful safely ride over the waves of this troublesome world, after those waves have been smoothed for them by the anointing oil that flowed from the wounds of the Lamb of God.” (Dict. of Hymnology, p. 880).
  10. “Eternal glory be to the Blessed Trinity; equal glory be to the Father and to the Son; equal glory to the Paraclete; may the whole world praise the Name of the One, and of the Three.”