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Ad regias Agni dapes

At the Lamb’s high feast we sing

The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal

  1. Ad regias Agni dapes,
    Stolis amicti candidis,
    Post transitum Maris rubri,
    Christo canamus Principi:
  2. Divina cujus caritas
    Sacrum propinat sanguinem,
    Almique membra corporis
    Amor sacerdos immolat.
  3. Sparsum cruorem postibus
    Vastator horret Angelus:
    Fugitque divisum mare:
    Merguntur hostes fluctibus.
  4. Jam Pascha nostrum Christus est,
    Paschalis idem victima,
    Et pura puris mentibus
    Sinceritatis azyma.
  5. O vera cœli victima,
    Subjecta cui sunt tartara,
    Soluta mortis vincula,
    Recepta vitæ præmia.
  6. Victor subactis inferis
    Trophæ Christus explicat,
    Cœloque aperto, subditum
    Regem tenebrarum trahit.
  7. Ut sis perenne mentibus
    Paschale Jesu gaudium,
    A morte dira criminum
    Vitæ renatos libera.
  8. Deo Patri sit gloria,
    Et Filio, qui a mortuis
    Surrexit, ac Paraclito,
    In sempiterna sæcula.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Christ, the Lamb whose Blood was shed,
    Pascal victim, Paschal bread;
    With sincerity and love
    Eat we manna from above.
  5. Might Victim from the sky,
    Powers of hell beneath Thee lie;
    Death is conquered in the fight;
    Thou hast brought us life and light.
  6. Now Thy banner Thou dost wave;
    Vanquished Satan and the grave;
    Angels join His praise to tell—
    See o’erthrown the prince of hell.
  7. Paschal triumph, Paschal joy,
    Only sin can this destroy;
    From the death of sin set free,
    Souls re-born, dear Lord, in Thee.
  8. Hymns of glory, songs of praise,
    Father, unto Thee we raise;
    Risen Lord, all praise to Thee,
    Ever with the Spirit be.
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.

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.

  1. “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.
  2. “His divine charity gives us His sacred Blood to drink; and love, as priest, immolates the members of His august Body.”
  3. “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).
  4. “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 corruption.
  5. “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.
  6. “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).
  7. “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.”