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Sacris Solemniis


Office hymn that was traditionally sung at Matins on the feast of corpus christi, as well as during the procession of that day. It was composed by thomas aquinas at the request of Pope Urban IV for the feast of Corpus Christi, which was instituted in 1264 by the bull Transiturus de hoc mundo ad Patrem. Each of its seven strophes (including the doxology) consists of three Asclepiadic lines, with the caesura occurring regularly after the sixth syllable, and one Glyconic. There is perfect incisio throughout the hymn. The same rhythmic pattern is to be found in Horace, but the meter of the Sacris solemniis is accentual, not quantitative, and may, therefore, except for the last line, conveniently be read as dactylic tetrameter acatalectic. From a purely technical standpoint, the most outstanding characteristic of the hymn is the intricate rhyme-scheme (ababcbc), which is best apparent when the Asclepiadic lines are divided at the caesura, where rhyme also occurs:

Sacris solemniis /juncta sint gaudia,

Et ex praecordiis /sonent praeconia;

Recedant vetera, /nova sint omnia, Corda, voces, et opera.

Despite objections to its theological implications [Delaporte, "Les Hymnes de bréviaire romain," Rassegna Gregoriana, (Nov.-Dec. 1907) 501], the phrase Te trina Deitas has been retained in the doxology of this hymn although in the version that was formerly sung at first and second Vespers in the Common of the Martyrs, Sanctorum meritis, the phrase was revised to Te summa O Deitas. Like all the hymns of Thomas Aquinas, the Sacris solemniis is remarkable for its combination of precise dogma, deep piety, and majestic style.

Bibliography: Analecta hymnica 50:587588. j. julian, ed., A Dictionary of Hymnology (New York 1957) 2:986, MSS and trs. m. britt, ed., The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal (new ed. New York 1948) 182185. f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953) 402410. j. connelly, Hymns of the Roman Liturgy (Westminster MD 1957).

[m. f. mccarthy]

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