Prayer Before Mass
Prayers of Saint Ambrose before Mass for each day of the week
This prayer is often ascribed to St. Ambrose (340 - 397), but scholars today ascribe the work to Jean de Fecamp (12th cent.). These prayers have been an important part of priestly private devotions since the Middle Ages and were included in the Missal by Pius V. The form of the prayers below have been modified for use by either the clergy or the laity. Those sections proper to the clergy are given in parentheses and alternates for the laity, if present, follow in brackets.
|SUMME Sacerdos et vere Pontifex, Iesu Christe, qui te obtulisti Deo Patri hostiam puram et immaculatam in ara Crucis pro nobis miseris et peccatoribus, et qui dedisti nobis Carnem tuam ad manducandum et Sanguinem tuum ad bibendum, et posuisti mysterium istud in virtute Spiritus Sancti tui, dicens: "Haec quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis:" rogo per eundem Sanguinem tuum, magnum salutis nostrae pretium, rogo per hanc miram et ineffabilem caritatem, qua nos miseros et indignos sic amare dignatus es, ut lavares nos a peccatis nostris in Sanguine tuo; (doce me servum tuum indignum, quem inter cetera dona tua etiam ad officium sacerdotale vocare dignatus es, nullis meis meritis, sed sola dignatione misericordiae tuae;) doce me, quaeso, per Spiritum Sanctum tuum, tantum tractare mysterium ea reverentia et honore, ea devotione et timore, quibus oportet et decet. Fac me per gratiam tuam semper illud de tanto mysterio credere et intelligere, sentire et firmiter tenere, dicere et cogitare quod tibi placet et expedit animae meae. Intret Spiritus tuus bonus in cor meum, qui sonet ibi sine sono, et sine strepitu verborum loquatur omnem veritatem. Profunda quippe sunt nimis, et sacro tecta velamine. Propter magnam clementiam tuam concede mihi Missarum sollemnia mundo corde et pura mente (celebrare) [assistere]. Libera cor meum ab immundis et nefandis, vanis et noxiis cogitationibus. Muni me beatorum Angelorum pia et fida custodia ac tutela fortissima, ut hostes omnium bonorum confusi discedant. Per virtutem tanti mysterii, et per manum sancti Angeli tui, repelle a me et a cunctis servis tuis durissimum spiritum superbiae et cenodoxiae, invidiae et blasphemiae, fornicationis et immunditiae, dubietatis, et diffidentiae. Confundantur qui nos persequuntur, pereant illi qui nos perdere festinant.||O SUPREME High Priest and true Pontiff, Jesus Christ, who didst offer Thyself to God the Father as a pure and spotless Victim upon the Altar of the Cross for us miserable sinners, who didst give us Thy Flesh to eat and Thy Blood to drink, and who didst ordain that Mystery in the power of the Holy Spirit saying: "As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me"; I ask Thee by this same Blood of Thine, the great price of our salvation, and by that wonderful and unspeakable love with which Thou dost love us so much so as to wash us from our sins in Thy Blood, as miserable and unworthy though we are: (teach me, Thy unworthy servant, whom among Thy other gifts, Thou hast deigned to call to the priestly office, not for my own merit but only out of the worthiness of Thy mercy;) I beseech Thee teach me through Thy Holy Spirit to handle so great a Mystery with such great reverence and honor, with such fear and devotion, as are due and fitting. Through Thy grace make me always to believe and to understand, to conceive and to firmly hold, and to think and speak of this wondrous Mystery in such a way as it pleases Thee and benefits my own soul. Let Thy good Spirit enter into my heart where He may silently resound and, without clamor of words, speak all truth. For Thy Mysteries are indeed exceedingly deep and covered with a sacred veil. On account of Thy great mercy grant me to (celebrate) [assist] at the Solemnity of the Mass with a clean heart and a pure mind. Free my heart from all unclean, unholy, vain and hurtful thoughts. Defend me with a loving and faithful guard, the mighty protection of Thy blessed Angels, so the enemies of all good may go away ashamed. Through the virtue of this great Mystery and by the hand of Thy holy angel, drive away from me and from all Thy servants the stubborn spirit of pride and vain-glory, of impurity and uncleanness, of doubting and mistrust. May those who persecute us be confounded; may they perish those who make haste to destroy us.|
|REX virginum et amator castitatis et integritatis, caelesti rore benedictionis tuae exstingue in corpore meo fomitem ardentis libidinis, ut maneat in me tenor castitatis corporis et animae. Mortifica in membris meis carnis stimulos omnesque libidinosas commotiones, et da mihi veram et perpetuam castitatem, cum ceteris donis tuis, quae tibi placent in veritate: ut sacrificium laudis casto corpore, et mundo corde valeam tibi offerre. Quanta enim cordis contritione, et lacrimarum fonte, quanta reverentia et tremore, quanta corporis castitate et animae puritate istud divinum et caeleste sacrificium est celebrandum, ubi Caro tua in veritate sumitur, ubi Sanguis tuus in veritate bibitur, ubi ima summis, terrena divinis iunguntur, ubi adest sanctorum Angelorum praesentia, ubi tu es Sacrificium et Sacerdos mirabiliter et ineffabiliter constitutus!||O KING of virgins and lover of chastity and innocence, extinguish in my body by the dew of Thy heavenly blessing whatever may kindle the burning of wanton desire, so purity of body and soul may abide in me. Mortify in my members the incitements of the flesh and all lustful emotions. Also give me true and persevering chastity with Thine other gifts which please Thee in truth, so that I may with chaste body and pure heart offer unto Thee a sacrifice of praise. For with how great a contrition of heart and flowing of tears or a chastity of body and purity of soul should that divine and heavenly Sacrifice be celebrated, wherein Thy Flesh is in truth eaten, wherein Thy Blood in truth is drunk, wherein things lowest and highest, earthly and divine, are united, where the Holy Angels are present, where Thou art in a marvelous and unspeakable manner both Priest and Sacrifice.|
|QUIS digne hoc sacrificium (celebrare) [assistere] poterit, nisi tu, Deus omnipotens, offerentem feceris dignum? Scio, Domine, et vere scio, et idipsum pietati tuae confiteor, quia non sum dignus accedere ad tantum mysterium propter nimia peccata mea et infinitas negligentias meas. Sed scio, et veraciter ex toto corde meo credo, et ore confiteor, qui tu potes me facere dignum, qui solus potes facere mundum de immundo conceptum semine, et de peccatoribus iustos et sanctos. Per hanc omnipotentiam tuam te rogo, Deus meus, ut concedas mihi peccatori hoc sacrificium (celebrare) [assistere] cum timore et tremore, cum cordis puritate et lacrimarum fonte, cum laetitia spiritali et caelesti gaudio. Sentiat mens mea dulcedinem beatissimae praesentiae tuae, excubias sanctorum Angelorum tuorum in circuitu meo.||WHO can worthily (celebrate) [assist] at this Sacrifice unless Thou, Almighty God, makest one worthy? I know, O Lord, yea, truly do I know and this do I confess to Thy loving-kindness, that I am unworthy to approach so great a Mystery on account of my sins and numberless negligences; but I know, and truly with my whole heart do I believe and with my mouth confess that Thou canst make me worthy, who alone canst make clean one conceived of unclean seed and canst make sinners to be righteous and holy. By this Thine almighty power I beseech Thee, O my God, to grant that I, a sinner, may (celebrate) [assist] at this Sacrifice with fear and trembling, with purity of heart and streams of tears, with spiritual gladness and heavenly joy. May my mind feel the sweetness of Thy most blessed Presence and the guardianship of Thy holy Angels round about me.|
|EGO enim, Domine, memor venerandae passionis tuae, accedo ad altare tuum, licet peccator, ut offeram tibi sacrificium quod tu instituisti et offerri praecepisti in commemoratione tui, pro salute nostra. Suscipe illud, quaeso, summe Deus, pro Ecclesia sancta tua, et pro populo quem acquisivisti Sanguine tuo. (Et quoniam me peccatorem, inter te et eundem populum tuum, medium esse voluisti, licet in me aliquod boni operis testimonium non agnoscas, officium saltem dispensationis creditae non recuses; nec, per me indignum, eorum salutis pereat pretium, pro quibus victima salutaris dignatus es esse et redemptio.) Profero etiam, Domine, si digneris propitius intueri, tribulationes plebium, pericula populorum, captivorum gemitus, miserias orphanorum necessitates peregrinorum, inopiam debilium, desperationes languentium, defectus senum, suspiria iuvenum, vota virginum, lamenta viduarum.||O LORD, ever mindful of Thy venerable Passion, I, though a sinner, approach Thine Altar so I might offer Thee that Sacrifice which Thou hast instituted and commanded us to offer in remembrance of Thee for our salvation. Receive it, I beseech Thee, O God Most High, for Thy holy Church and for the people whom Thou hast purchased with Thy Blood. (And since Thou hast willed that I, a sinner, should be in the midst between Thee and Thy people, although Thou perceivest not in me the evidence of good works, at least refuse not the service of the ministry which Thou hast given me; let not the price of their salvation be wasted through my unworthiness, whose saving Victim and redemption Thou didst deign to be.) I also bring before Thee, O Lord, if Thou wilt deign to consider them, the tribulations of the people, the perils of the nations, the groans of prisoners, the misery of orphans, the necessities of strangers, the helplessness of the weak, the depression of the weary, the infirmities of the aged, the aspirations of the young, the vows of virgins, and the lamentations of widows.|
|TU ENIM misereris omnium, Domine, et nihil odisti eorum quae fecisti. Memorare quae sit nostra substantia; quia tu Pater noster es, quia tu Deus noster es, ne irascaris satis, neque multitudinem viscerum tuorum super nos contineas. Non enim in iustificationibus nostris prosternimus preces ante faciem tuam, sed in miserationibus tuis multis. Aufer a nobis iniquitates nostras, et ignem Sancti Spiritus in nobis clementer accende. Aufer cor lapideum de carne nostra, et da nobis cor carneum, quod te amet, te diligat, te delectetur, te sequatur, te perfruatur. Oramus, Domine, clementiam tuam, ut sereno vultu familiam tuam, sacri tui Nominis officia praestolantem, aspicere digneris; et nullius sit irritum votum, nullius vacua postulatio, tu nobis preces suggere, quas ipse propitius audire et exaudire delecteris.||O LORD, Thou art merciful unto all and hatest nothing that Thou hast made. Remember what we are made of, for Thou art our Father, Thou art our God. Be not angry with us for ever, nor withhold the multitude of Thy mercies from us; for it is not in our righteousness, but in Thy great compassion that we humbly place our prayers before Thee. Take from us our iniquities and graciously enkindle the fire of Thy Holy Spirit within us. Take from us our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh, which may love Thee, prefer Thee, delight in Thee, follow Thee, and enjoy Thee. O Lord, out of Thy mercy we beg Thee to look favorably upon Thy family awaiting the service of Thy holy Name, May the prayers of none be ineffectual, nor the petitions of any be unfruitful. Do Thou put into our minds such prayers as Thou mayest delight graciously to hear and answer.|
|ROGAMUS etiam te, Domine, sancte Pater, et pro spiritibus fidelium defunctorum, ut sit illis salus, sanitas, gaudium et refrigerium, hoc magnum pietatis sacramentum. Domine, Deus meus, sit illis hodie magnum et plenum convivium de te pane vivo, qui de caelo descendisti et das vitam mundo, de tua Carne sancta et benedicta, Agni videlicet immaculati, qui tollis peccata mundi, quae de sancto et glorioso beatae Virginis Mariae utero est assumpta et de Spiritu Sancto concepta; ac de illo pietatis fonte, qui per lanceam militis ex tuo sacratissimo latere emanavit: ut, exinde refecti et satiati, refrigerati et consolati, exsultent in laude et gloria tua.||O LORD, Holy Father, we beseech Thee on behalf of the souls of the faithful departed that this great Sacrament of Thy love may be for them health, salvation, joy and refreshment. O Lord and my God, may it be a great and abundant feast of Thee, the living Bread, who camest down from heaven and givest life unto the world; a feast of Thy holy and blessed Flesh, of the Lamb without spot, who takest away the sins of the world; the Flesh which was conceived of the Holy Spirit and taken from the holy and glorious womb of the blessed Virgin Mary; the Flesh of Thy most sacred Side pierced by the soldier's spear from which the Fountain of mercy flowed forth; with which after being fed and satisfied, refreshed and comforted, they may rejoice in Thy praise and glory.|
|PETO clementiam tuam, Domine, ut descendat super panem tibi sacrificandum plenitudo tuae benedictionis, et sanctificatio tuae divinitatis. Descendat etiam, Domine, illa Sancti Spiritus tui invisibilis incomprehensibilisque maiestatis, sicut quondam in patrum hostias descendebat; qui et oblationes nostras corpus et Sanguinem tuum efficiat, et (me indignum sacerdotem) [nos indignos servos] doceat tantum tractare mysterium cum cordis puritate et lacrimarum devotione, cum reverentia et tremore, ita ut placide ac benigne suscipias sacrificium (de manibus meis) ad salutem omnium tam vivorum quam defunctorum.||O LORD, upon Thy mercy I pray that the fullness of Thy blessing and the sanctification of Thy divinity may descend upon the bread to be offered unto Thee. May the invisible and incomprehensible majesty of Thy Holy Spirit also descend as it came down of old upon the sacrifices of the Fathers; which will both make our oblations Thy Body and Blood, and teach (me Thy unworthy priest) [us, Thy unworthy servants], to treat so great a Mystery with purity of heart and with tears of devotion, with the reverence and trembling, so that Thou mayest graciously and favorably receive this sacrifice (at my hands) for the wellbeing of all, both the living and the departed.|
|ROGAM etiam te, Domine, per ipsum sacrosanctum mysterium Corporis et Sanguinis tui, quo quotidie in Ecclesia tua pascimur et potamur, abluimur et sanctificamur, atque unius summae divinitatis participes efficimur. Da mihi virtutes tuas sanctas, quibus repletus bona conscientia ad altare tuum accedam, ita ut haec caelestia sacramenta efficiantur mihi salus et vita. Tu enim dixisti ore tuo sancto et benedicto: "Panis quem ego dabo, caro mea est pro mundi vita. Ego sum panis vivus, qui de caelo descendi. Si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in aeternum."||I ENTREAT Thee, O Lord, by this most holy mystery of Thy Body and Blood with which we are daily fed and given to drink, are washed and sanctified in Thy Church, and are made worthy partakers of the one supreme Divinity, grant unto me Thy holy virtues, that filled by them I may draw near to Thine Altar with a good conscience. May these heavenly Sacraments be made unto me salvation and life, for as Thou hast said with Thy holy and blessed mouth, "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever."|
|PANIS dulcissime, sana palatum cordis mei ut sentiam suavitatem amoris tui. Sana illud ab omni languore, ut nullam praeter te sentiam dulcedinem. Panis candidissime, habens omne delectamentum et omnem saporem, qui nos semper reficis et numquam in te deficis: comedat te cor meum, et dulcedine saporis tui repleantur viscera animae meae. Manducat te Angelus ore pleno: manducet te peregrinus homo pro modulo suo, ne deficere possit in via, tali recreatus viatico.||SWEETEST Bread, heal the palate of my heart that I may taste the pleasant savor of Thy love. Heal it of all infirmities that I may find sweetness in nothing other than Thee. O purest Bread, having all delight and all savor, which ever refreshest us and never failest, let my heart feed on Thee and may my inmost soul be fulfilled with the sweetness of Thy savor. The Angels feed upon Thee fully: let the wayfaring man feed on Thee according to his measure, that, refreshed with such a Viaticum, he may not fall by the way.|
|PANIS sancte, panis vive, panis munde, qui descendisti de caelo et das vitam mundo, veni in cor meum, et munda me ab omni inquinamento carnis et spiritus. Intra in animam meam, sana et munda me interius et exterius. Esto tutamen et continua salus animae et corporis mei. Repelle a me insidiantes mihi hostes; recedant procul a praesentia potentiae tuae, ut, foris et intus per te munitus, recto tramite ad tuum regnum perveniam; ubi non in mysteriis, sicut in hoc tempore agitur, sed facie ad faciem te videbimus, cum tradideris regnum Deo et Patri, et eris Deus omnia in omnibus. Tunc enim me de te satiabis, satietate mirifica, ita ut esuriam, nec sitiam in aeternum: Qui cum eodem Deo Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.||HOLY Bread, O living Bread, O pure Bread, who camest down from heaven and givest life unto the world, come into my heart, and cleanse me from all defilement of flesh and spirit. Enter into my soul: heal and cleanse me within and without; be the protection and continual health of my soul and body. Drive far from me all foes that lie in wait; let them flee at the presence of Thy power, so that being guarded without and within by Thee, I may come to Thy kingdom straight away: where, not as now in mysteries, but face to face, we shall behold Thee: when Thou shalt have delivered up the kingdom to God, the Father, and shalt be God, all in all. Then shalt Thou satisfy me with Thyself in wondrous fullness, so that I shall never hunger nor thirst any more. Who with the same God the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.|
Prayer of St. Ambrose Before Mass
LORD Jesus Christ, I approach Thy banquet table in fear and trembling, for I am a sinner, and dare not rely on my own worth, but only on Thy goodness and mercy. I am defiled by my many sins in body and soul, and by my unguarded thoughts and words. Gracious God of majesty and awe, I seek Thy protection, I look for Thy healing. Poor troubled sinner that I am, I appeal to Thee, the fountain of all mercy. I cannot bear Thy judgment, but I trust in Thy salvation. Lord, I show my wounds to Thee and uncover my shame before Thee. I know my sins are many and great, and they fill me with fear, but I hope in Thy mercies, for they cannot be numbered.
LORD Jesus Christ, Eternal King, God and man, crucified for mankind, look upon me with mercy and hear my prayer, for I trust in Thee. Have mercy on me, full of sorrow and sin, for the depth of Thy compassion never ends.
PRAISE to Thee saving sacrifice, offered on the wood of the cross for me and for all mankind. Praise to the noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ and washing away the sins of the whole world.
REMEMBER, Lord, Thy creature, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy blood; I repent my sins, and I long to put right what I have done. Merciful Father, take away all my offenses and sins; purify me in body and soul, and make me worthy to taste the Holy of Holies. May Thy Body and Blood, which I intend to receive, although I am unworthy, be for me the remission of my sins, the washing away of my guilt, the end of my evil thoughts, and the rebirth of my better instincts. May it incite me to do the works pleasing to Thee, and a firm defense of body and soul against the wiles of my enemies. Amen.
Prayer Before Mass
By Saint Thomas Aquinas
ALMIGHTY and ever-lasting God, I approach the sacrament of Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the radiance of eternal light, and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore, I implore Thee in Thy great generosity, to heal my sickness, to wash away my defilement, enlighten my blindness, to enrich my poverty, and to clothe my nakedness, so that I may receive the bread of angels, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords with reverence and humility, with contrition and devotion, with purity and faith, and with such purpose and determination that will be expedient to the salvation of my soul. Grant me, I beseech Thee, that I may not only receive the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord, but also the reality and power of the Sacrament. O most kind God, grant that I may receive the Body of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, and so received that I may be worthy to be incorporated into His mystical body, and numbered among His members. O most loving Father, grant me Thy beloved Son, which I now receive under the veil of a sacrament, that I may one day behold Him face to face in glory, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever. Amen.
Prayer to All the Angels and Saints Before Mass
ANGELS, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers, heavenly Virtues, Cherubim and Seraphim; all Saints of God, holy men and women, and for you especially my patrons: deign to intercede for me that I may be worthy to offer this Sacrifice to almighty God, to the praise and glory of His name, for my own welfare and also that of all His holy Church. Amen.
Prayer to the Saint in Whose Honor the Mass is Celebrated
O HOLY N., behold I, a wretched sinner, relying on thy merits, now offer for thy honor and glory the most holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Humbly and devoutly do I beg thee to intercede for me this day, and to plead that I may have the grace to offer this great Sacrifice in a worthy and acceptable fashion and to be able to sing His praises eternally with thee and with all His elect in heaven. Who lives and reigns forever. Amen
Statement of Intention
Composed by Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585)
MY PURPOSE is to celebrate Mass and to make present the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the rite of the holy Roman Church to the praise of our all-powerful God and all His assembly in the glory of heaven, for my good and the good of all His pilgrim Church on earth, and for all who have asked me to pray for them in general and in particular, and for the good of the holy Roman Church.
MAY the almighty and merciful Lord grant us joy and peace, amendment of life, room for true repentance, the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit and perseverance in good works. Amen.
The Five Points
Most usefully recited before or after Communion
I. I detest and abhor each and every sin of mine, and all of the other sins committed from the beginning of the world through this hour and that will be committed unto the end of the world: and, if I could, might I impede them by the grace of God, which I call upon on my knees.
II. I praise and approve of every good work done from the beginning of the world through this hour and that will be done unto end of the world; and if I could, might I multiply them by the grace of God, which I call upon on my knees.
III. I intend to act, to speak, and to think all for the greater glory of God, and with those good intentions which the Saints ever had, or will have, or can have
IV. With all my heart I pardon and forgive all my enemies, all those who accuse me falsely, all my detractors, and all who have injured me in any way or have wished me evil.
V. O how might I save all men by dying on behalf of each! Freely would I do this by the grace of God, which I implore on my knees, and without which I can do nothing.
Prayer before Communion
This prayer is taken from the Priest's private prayers before communion. It was first seen in a 9th century Sacramentary of Amiens and has been a part of the Mass since the 10th century
O LORD Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who by the will of the Father and with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit have by Thy death given life unto the world: deliver me by this, Thy most sacred Body and Blood, from all my sins and from every evil. Make me always cling to Thy commandments and never permit me to be separated from Thee. Amen.
Prayer before the reception of the Eucharist
This prayer appears in the coprus of St. Anselm's (1033 - 1109) works in Migne's Patrologia Latina. St. Anselm was the founder of Scholasticism and is a Doctor of the Church
O LORD Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, who according to the will of the Father and with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit hast by Thy death given life unto the world, I adore and revere this Thy holy Body which was given over and this Thy holy Blood which was poured forth for the many unto the remission of sins. O merciful Lord, I beg of Thy mercy that through the power of this sacrament Thou willst make me one of that many. Through faith and love make me feel the power of these sacraments so I may experience their saving power. Absolve and free from all sin and punishment of sin Thy servants, Thy handmaidens, myself, all who have confessed their sins to me, those who I have promised or am obliged to pray for, and so too those who themselves hope or beg to be helped by my prayers with Thee. Make our Church rejoice in Thy constant protection and consolation. Thou who with God the Father.... Amen.
HEAVENLY Father, most compassionate Father, accept this day [through the hands of Thy servant] this most holy Sacrifice, the true Body and Blood of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept it for the satisfaction and remission of all my sins, for the health and strength of my soul and that of all of my household, and of all those to whom I am obliged. Accept it for all the prelates, preachers, priests, and religious of the Catholic Faith. Deign to impart to them the grace of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of their souls and for the governance of the Christian people. Accept it for the salvation of all the sinners of this world, that Thou wouldst convert them and lead them to the path of salvation. Accept it for the consolation of all who are troubled. Grant them true repentance and help. Accept it for the refuge and liberation of all the souls in Purgatory, especially those who look to my help. And accept it for the conversion of all unbelievers, that they may know Thee, and love Thee, Thou who art the greatest truth, Almighty Father, who with the Son and the Holy Spirit art God. Blessed art Thou for ever. Amen.
From "Praeparatio ad Missam et Gratiarum Actio Post Missam", Romae et Mutinae, Typis Antonii Capponi Impr. Ep., 1727
Acts of Spiritual Communion
By St. Alphonsus Maria de' Ligouri
MY Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee. Amen.
Sancti, venite (Come All Ye Holy)
This hymn is attributed to St. Sechnall (d 457), otherwise known as St. Secundius, who was the nephew of St. Patrick. A longstanding legend states that St. Patrick and his nephew St. Sechnall heard angels singing it in the church at Dunshaughlin during the offertory before communion. From that time forward it was adopted there for use during the reception of Holy Communion.
The hymn can be traced back to the seventh century, which makes it perhaps the oldest known Eucharistic hymn. It appears in the Bangor Antiphoner, a seventh century Irish manuscript. The Bangor Antiphoner was written in Ireland sometime between 680 and 691. From Bangor it was carried to Bobbio, a famous monastery founded in Italy by the Irish missionary St. Columbanus. St. Columbanus was a disciple of St. Comgall, who founded the monastery at Bangor sometime around 552. St. Columbanus himself went on to found the monastery at Bobbio in 614. Exactly when the Bangor Antiphoner was carried to Bobbio is not certain. However, since it contains a list of the first fifteen abbots of Bangor, beginning with Comgall and ending with Cronanus who died in 691, it would appear that it must have been sometime afterwards. There is also some speculation that the manuscript we have today is actually a copy of the original from Bangor. The hymn itself does not appear in any ancient manuscript outside the Bangor Antiphoner. Muratori was the first to publish the text of the hymn in his Anecdota (1697-98). He first ran across the hymn in the Ambrosian Library in Milan. The Antiphoner was brought to Milan from Bobbio by Cardinal Federigo Borromeo when he founded the Ambrosian Library in 1609.
As to the hymn's authorship by St. Sechnall, while the historical documentation can only be traced to the seventh century, it is quite possible that he is the author. The style of the hymn somewhat resembles that of an older style than what is usually found in a late seventh century hymn.
A popular English translation "Draw Nigh and Take the Body of the Lord", which appears in many modern hymnals even today, was done by J. M. Neale (1818-1866). It first appeared in his Medieval Hymns in 1851. The one below is less well known, but perhaps a bit more literal. It was done by Fr. Adrian Fortescue (1874-1924) and appears in his book "Latin Hymns", 1913.
Christi corpus sumite,
quo redempti sanguinem.
Come all ye holy,
take the Body of your Lord,
Drink of His chalice,
take the Blood for you outpoured.
corpore et sanguine,
a quo refecti
laudes dicamus Deo.
Saved by His Body,
by His sacred Blood, we raise
grateful our voices
unto God hymns of praise.
corporis et sanguinis
ab inferni faucibus.
Christus filius Dei,
per crucem et sanguinem.
Giver of life, He
Christ our Savior, Son of God,
bought our redemption
by His Cross and precious Blood.
existit et hostia.
Dying for all men,
he the Lord prepared this feast,
offered as a victim,
offering Himself as priest.
God to our fathers
ordered sacrifice of old;
so He in symbols
Christ the victim true unfold.
et salvator omnium
largitus est gratiam.
Giver of light, the
one Redeemer of our race,
He to His hold
servants gives abundant grace.
pura mente creduli,
Come, who with pure hearts
in the Savior's word believe;
come and partaking
saving grace from Him receive.
rector quoque, Dominus
God our defender,
guardian sure in this our strife,
gives to His faithful
after death eternal life.
de fonte vivo
He to the hungry
gives as food this heavenly bread,
fountain of life, He
gives to drink the blood He shed.
Alpha et Omega
ipse Christus Dominus
Christ, the source of all
who here feeds us sinful men,
when this great day dawns,
judge of all, will come again.
From "Latin Hymns", by Fr. Adrian Fortescue (1874-1924).