Ave Verum Corpus

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Short Eucharistic hymn, no longer in liturgical use. Although regarded as a sequence, it was actually sung during the eucharistic elevation, a part of the Mass introduced only in the 12th century. The hymn has been ascribed to Pope Innocent VI (135262), but this is improbable since the text is found in MSS from the late 13th or early 14th centuries. This hymn excels the many similar texts written during the 14th and 15th centuries (e.g., the MS of the Orationale Augiense contains some 26 pieces of similar character). At one time it was more popular than the adoro te devote. It originated probably in northern Italy, and it is written in trochaic tetrameter, rhyming at the caesura and at the end of lines. The last two lines reverse the roles Christ and Mary play in the famous salve regina (Mater) Misericordiae. Of the many musical compositions composed for this text, Mozart's motet is particularly appropriate to its spirit.

Bibliography: g. marsot, Catholicisme 1.111213. j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung (Berlin 196465) 2:298299. j. connelly, Hymns of the Roman Liturgy (Westminster MD 1957) 130. Analecta hymnica 54:257.

[j. szÖvÉrffy]