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Lauda Sion Salvatorem


The opening words of a sequence composed c. 1264 by St. thomas aquinas for the Mass of corpus et sanguinis christi. It is one of the four great hymns on the Holy Eucharist by the Angelic Doctor, the others being pange lingua gloriosi, sacris solemniis, and verbum supernum prodiens. Together they set forth in cogently clear yet beautiful language the fundamental doctrinal teachings of the Church on the Real Presence. Lauda Sion salvatorem was written at the request of Pope Urban IV when the Feast of Corpus Christi was first established, and it was intended for the sequence of the Mass of the feast. Although the work was once ascribed to St. bonaventure, the authorship of Aquinas is today beyond dispute. Thomas uses the prevalent accentual rather than the older classical quantitative meter, and in addition to rhyme abundant use is made of alliteration and assonance. It follows rather closely the form in which adam of saint-victor did many of his sequences, especially the beautiful Laudes crucis attollamus. It is a dogmatic poem and never wanders from the correct scholastic terms in its closely reasoned stanzas, but even so it cannot fail to make an impression by its grand and deeply moving style. Sion in the first verse is the Church or the people of God, who are summoned to sing the praises of the life-giving Sacrament. The old passover is replaced by this new feast, the commemoration of which is explained, where Christ himself figures as the sacrificial lamb. Much the same theme is developed by the same author in his Summa Theologiae (ST 1a2ae, 7383) as is found in the seventh and later stanzas of the poem. Topics such as transubstantiation, the nature and dogma of the Sacrament, and the mystery and faith involved are all treated clearly and forcefully. The last strophe expresses the hope that the congregation of the faithful will eventually be gathered together for a heavenly feast in the company of the saints. The author of the plainsong melody of the Lauda Sion salvatorem is not known but is supposed by some scholars to have been St. Thomas himself. The melody, however, dates from the 12th century, and possibly even earlier.

Bibliography: Text, Analecta hymnica 50:584585. g. morin, "L'Office cistercien pour la Fête-Dieu comparé avec celui de saint Thomas d'Aquin," Revue Bénedictine 27 (1910) 236246. e. dumoutet, Corpus Domini: Aux sources de la piété eucharistique médiévale (Paris 1942). o. huf, De Sacramentshymnen van den Hl. Thomas van Aquino (Liturgische Studien 4; Maastricht 1924). g. a. burton, "The Liturgical Poetry of St. Thomas," St. Thomas Papers (Cambridge, Eng. 1925) 285298. f. trucco, San Tommaso d'Aquino poeta della santissima Eucharistia (Sarzana 1928). m. grabmann, Die Werke des hl. Thomas von Aquin (3d ed. Münster 1949) 317324. c. lambot, "L'Office de la Fête-Dieu," Revue Bénedictine 54 (1942) 61123. m. britt, ed., The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal (new ed. New York 1948) 166188. r. busa, S. Thomae Aquinatis hymnorum ritualium varia specimina concordantium (Milan 1951). f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953) 402414. f. callaey, L'origine della festa del Corpus Domini (Rovigo 1958). j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung (Berlin 196465) 2:246251.

[w. c. korfmacher]

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