Tantum Ergo

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The Latin text of Tantum Ergo sung to its traditional melody, which is a mode I Gregorian chant.

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Tantum ergo is the incipit of the last two verses of Pange Lingua, a Mediaeval Latin hymn written by St Thomas Aquinas. These last two verses are sung during veneration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church and other churches that have this devotion.[1] It is usually sung, though solemn recitation is sometimes done, and permitted.[2][citation needed]




Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Præstet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.
Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.

℣. Panem de cælis[4] præstitisti eis (in Paschaltide and on Corpus Christi, 'Alleluia' is added).[5]
℟. Omne delectamentum in se habentem[Wis 16:20] (in Paschaltide and on Corpus Christi, 'Alleluia' is added).

Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuæ memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quæsumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.

Literal translation[edit]

Hence so great a Sacrament
Let us venerate with heads bowed [cernui]
And let the old practice [documentum]
Give way to the new rite;
Let faith provide a supplement
For the failure of the senses.
To the Begetter and the Begotten [both masculine gender],
Be praise and jubilation,
Hail,[6] honour, virtue[7] also,
And blessing too:
To the One proceeding from Both
Let there be equal praise.

℣. You have provided them bread from heaven.
℟. Having in itself [in se] all delight [delectamentum].

Let us pray: O God, who to us in this wonderful Sacrament, bequeathed a memorial of Your Passion: grant, we beseech, that we, in worshipping [venerari; in addition to simple worship, may also mean worshipping in order to receive favour] the Holy Mysteries of Your Body and Blood, may within ourselves continually [iugiter], sensibly perceive [sentiamus] the fruit of Your redemption. You who live and reign into ages of ages.

℟. Amen.

English translation[edit]

A century-old translation[8] and still used in Catholic churches liturgically[9] renders the hymn thus, in a form which can be sung to the same music as the Latin:

Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.
To the Everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from Each eternally,
Be salvation, honour, blessing,
Might, and endless majesty.

℣. Thou hast given them bread from heaven.
℟. Having within it all sweetness.

Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.

℟. Amen.

Other, more modern English translations exist and are also used in Catholic churches liturgically.

Philippine use[edit]

The Church in the Philippines uses a separate hymn tune different from Pange Lingua, whose first three strophes remain sung to the melody used everywhere else.

This tune is also used to sing Let Us Raise Our Voice, a loose English adaptation of Tantum Ergo. The hymn, whose first strophe's content evokes the Memorial Acclamation of the Mass, is sung during the Wednesday Novena Service to Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Benediction at the Baclaran Church (the devotion's principal shrine in the country). J. Carreras is credited for the musical arrangement of the hymn.

Let us raise our voice to proclaim our Faith:
Christ the Lord, for us has died;
Dying, He destroyed our death,
Rising, He restored our life.
O Lord Jesus, we await
Your last return in glory.
When we eat the bread and we drink the cup
In the blessed Eucharist
We meet You, our Risen Saviour,
Giving life to us anew.
Through life’s journey be with us,
To strengthen us forever.
Amen, Amen.

℣. You have given them bread from heaven [Alleluia].[10]
℟. The source of all happiness [Alleluia].

Let us pray: Lord God, by the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Your only Son, You accomplish the work of man’s redemption. Full of trust, we proclaim the Paschal Mystery in the sacramental signs of the Eucharist. Help us to see ever growing in us the fruits of Your saving work; through Christ Our Lord.

℟. Amen.

Theological aspects[edit]

The words "procedenti ab utroque / compar sit laudatio"—literally, "May equal praise be to the One proceeding from both"—refer to the Holy Spirit, who according to the later version of the Nicene Creed used in Western Christianity proceeds from both the Father and the Son (see Filioque). Many Eastern Christians do not share this belief that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.

Musical settings[edit]

The basic text has been set by numerous composers from the Renaissance (Palestrina), the Romantic period (Anton Bruckner, Gabriel Fauré, Franz Schubert), and contemporary composers (David Conte).

Bruckner wrote eight settings of this text: WAB 32, WAB 41 (Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4), WAB 42, WAB 43, and WAB 44. Faure wrote two settings: Op. 55, and Op. 62 No. 2. Schubert wrote three settings: D. 460, D. 461, and D. 962.


  1. ^ See, e.g., benediction in English at St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfTTtlDOFcg , at about 1:30, for an example of benediction in the Episcopal Church USA. For an example in the Roman Catholic Church, in Latin, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwH_mxqnoHE&t=18m26s .
  2. ^ "Tantum Ergo". Catholic Encyclopedia.  This citation refers only to the practice of the Catholic Church prior to the liturgical changes of Vatican II.
  3. ^ See the note on "cælis" versus "cælo," below, for a print source for the Latin text.
  4. ^ The word "cælis", not "cælo", is used in Finnegan, Sean. The Book of Catholic Prayer. 2000: Loyola Press. p. 521. The book prints the entire text of the prayer. However, "cælo" (and "cœlo") are common varieties. The distinction here is that the forms ending in "is" are plurial ("skies"), and the forms ending in "um" are singular ("sky"). This is a distinction without a difference as "bread from the sky" or "bread from the skies" clearly means "bread from heaven." Moreover, in a common pronunciation of Church Latin, "æ" and "œ" are pronounced the same. See a pronunciation table here.
  5. ^ The word "Alleluia" is appended during Eastertide. See the Thesaurus Precum Latinarum entry. The abbreviation "P.T." stands for "Paschaltide," another word for "Eastertide."
  6. ^ "Salus." The verb associated with "salus" is "sit" in the following line. The meaning most appropriate for "salus" here is meaning I.B. in the Lewis & Short Latin dictionary at Perseus, "a wish for one's welfare (expressed by word of mouth or in writing), a greeting, salute, salutation." There is no word in modern English that captures the sense used here exactly, but it is similar to the archaic "hail" as in "Hail to the chief." The Lewis & Short Dictionary gives another example of the same usage of "salus" from the comedy writer Plautus: "Non ego sum salutis dignus?" Literally, "Am I not worthy of your good wishes?" or "Am I not worthy of your hail"?
  7. ^ For other examples of Latin use of the word "virtus" by St. Thomas Aquinas, here translated "virtue", see the Latin of the Summa Theologica, e.g. [1]. For a discussion of the translation of the triplet "salus, honor, virtus" as the "three good wishes" customarily given to rulers, see e.g. robdick's comments at [2].
  8. ^ Source: p. 63-64, "Hymns and Poems, Original and Translated" by Edward Caswall, 1873. [3]
  9. ^ See e.g.[4][5], accessed May 2, 2009
  10. ^ The word "Alleluia" is appended during Eastertide. See the Thesaurus Precum Latinarum entry. The abbreviation "P.T." stands for "Paschaltide," another word for "Eastertide."

External links[edit]