This is surely one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written: William Byrd’s ‘Ave Verum Corpus’, sing by the Tallis Scholars.
Ave verum corpus is a short Eucharistic hymn that has been set to music by various composers. It dates from the 14th century and has been attributed to Pope Innocent VI.
During the Middle Ages it was sung at the elevation of the host during the consecration. It was also used frequently during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament…
The text is in Latin, and reads:
- Ave verum corpus, natum
- de Maria Virgine, vere passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine, cuius latus perforatum fluxit aqua et sanguine:
- esto nobis praegustatum
- in mortis examine.
- O Iesu dulcis, O Iesu pie, O Iesu, fili Mariae.
- Miserere mei. Amen.
A translation into English is:
- Hail, true Body, born of the Virgin Mary, who having truly suffered, was sacrificed on the cross for mankind, whose pierced side flowed with water and blood: May it be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet] in the trial of death. O sweet Jesus, O pious Jesus, O Jesus, son of Mary, have mercy on me. Amen.