The tradition of giving thanks for the institution of the Eucharist (in the story of Jesus’ life on a Thursday) has long been celebrated on the first “free” Thursday outside of Lent/Easter. People connect it with Juliana of Liège. Thomas Aquinas, at the request of Pope Urban IV in the year 1264, produced the Mass and the Offices for the feast. And he wrote the hymns Lauda Sion and Pange Lingua in its honour.
It is omitted in the 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1662 Books of Common Prayer, returning in 1928 – but without a date in the Calendar. This approach continues in The Episcopal Church’s BCP. The Church of England’s Alternative Service Book restores its calendrical position, as does A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.
New Zealand Anglicanism ranks the feast as An Other Commemoration of our Lord (page 9 – along with The Holy Name of Jesus and Holy Cross Day). Might NZ be unique in Anglicanism, however, in calendaring a celebration without providing readings or a collect?!
Until 1992, the NZ lectionary booklet appears happy to fill the vacuum from mother CofE. Then in 1992, For All the Saints (a Kiwi resource “received” by General Synod) had suggested that the readings and collect from the home-grown 2-year Sunday series for Pentecost 11 be used. “Received” means, I guess (there is no definition of its status liturgically), that it’s not binding on us, not required of us, but is seen to be “mostly harmless”. It’s the Anglican Church of Or – you can use it.
That continued until 2004. In 2004, the NZ lectionary booklet abandoned the For All the Saints suggestion, returning to CofE resources that haven’t even been “received” here. Firstly, “CLC… an adaptation of the Revised Common Lectionary for use in the Church of England… included [in the lectionary booklet] where provision has not been made in RCL or in ANZPB/HKMOA” (The Lectionary 2004).
Then from 2009 to today, the proper is sourced in the Church of England’s Common Worship – again, an “unreceived” document with no status in our Church. I suspect that many (most?) celebrating Corpus Christi in NZ today simply turn to the Mass and its readings in the Roman Rite – that material has at least equal weight in our NZ Anglican Church of Or to the unreceived material in our lectionary booklet.
And then there will be those who follow the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary for Thursday (another RC resource) and Sundayise Corpus Christi to this coming Sunday (either with the CofE readings or with the RC readings).
So, here’s my collect for Corpus Christi:
Let us pray (in silence) [that through the eucharist we may grow into Christ’s life]
Gracious and merciful God,
in a wonderful sacrament you have given us
a memorial of the passion of your Son
grant that we who receive these sacred mysteries
may grow up into him in all things
until we come to your eternal joy;
through our Saviour Jesus Christ
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Read more about this prayer and reflection here.
“Lauda Sion” is a sequence prescribed for the Roman Catholic Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi. It was written by St. Thomas Aquinas around 1264, at the request of Pope Urban IV for the new Mass of this feast, along with Pange lingua, Sacris solemniis, Adoro te devote and Verbum supernum prodiens, which are used in the Divine Office. The sequence is normally used between the second reading and the Alleluia verse before the Gospel.
Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ, your king and shepherd true:
Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow.
Never can you reach his due.
Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick’ning and the living
Bread today before you set:
From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.
Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:
For today the feast is holden,
When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.
Here the new law’s new oblation,
By the new king’s revelation,
Ends the form of ancient rite:
Now the new the old effaces,
Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.
What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne’er to cease:
And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.
This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:
Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow’r divine.
Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:
Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.
Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:
Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.
Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.
Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.
When the sacrament is broken,
Doubt not, but believe ’tis spoken,
That each sever’d outward token
doth the very whole contain.
Nought the precious gift divides,
Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides,
still unbroken does remain.
The shorter form of the sequence begins here.
Lo! the angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children’s bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.
Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.
Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.
You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.
Sing forth, O Zion, sweetly sing
The praises of thy Shepherd-King,
In hymns and canticles divine;
Dare all thou canst, thou hast no song
Worthy his praises to prolong,
So far surpassing powers like thine.
Today no theme of common praise
Forms the sweet burden of thy lays —
The living, life-dispensing food —
That food which at the sacred board
Unto the brethren twelve our Lord
His parting legacy bestowed.
Then be the anthem clear and strong,
Thy fullest note, thy sweetest song,
The very music of the breast:
For now shines forth the day sublime
That brings remembrance of the time
When Jesus first his table blessed.
Within our new King’s banquet-hall
They meet to keep the festival
That closed the ancient paschal rite:
The old is by the new replaced;
The substance hath the shadow chased;
And rising day dispels the night.
Christ willed what he himself had done
Should be renewed while time should run,
In memory of his parting hour:
Thus, tutored in his school divine,
We consecrate the bread and wine;
And lo — a Host of saving power.
This faith to Christian men is given —
Bread is made flesh by words from heaven:
Into his blood the wine is turned:
What though it baffles nature’s powers
Of sense and sight? This faith of ours
Proves more than nature e’er discerned.
Concealed beneath the two-fold sign,
Meet symbols of the gifts divine,
There lie the mysteries adored:
The living body is our food;
Our drink the ever-precious blood;
In each, one undivided Lord.
Not he that eateth it divides
The sacred food, which whole abides
Unbroken still, nor knows decay;
Be one, or be a thousand fed,
They eat alike that living bread
Which, still received, ne’er wastes away.
The good, the guilty share therein,
With sure increase of grace or sin,
The ghostly life, or ghostly death:
Death to the guilty; to the good
Immortal life. See how one food
Man’s joy or woe accomplisheth.
We break the Sacrament, but bold
And firm thy faith shall keep its hold,
Deem not the whole doth more enfold
Than in the fractured part resides
Deem not that Christ doth broken lie,
‘Tis but the sign that meets the eye,
The hidden deep reality
In all its fullness still abides.
Behold the bread of angels, sent
For pilgrims in their banishment,
The bread for God’s true children meant,
That may not unto dogs be given:
Oft in the olden types foreshowed;
In Isaac on the altar bowed,
And in the ancient paschal food,
And in the manna sent from heaven.
Come then, good shepherd, bread divine,
Still show to us thy mercy sign;
Oh, feed us still, still keep us thine;
So may we see thy glories shine
In fields of immortality;
O thou, the wisest, mightiest, best,
Our present food, our future rest,
Come, make us each thy chosen guest,
Co-heirs of thine, and comrades blest
With saints whose dwelling is with thee.
Sequence for Corpus Christi, from the 1981 Lectionary approved for Australia and New Zealand (Volume 1, pages 601 – 603). It is a translation by James Ambrose Dominic Aylward OP (1813-1872) and was published in Annus Sanctus in 1884, pages 194 -196. Sung to the tune STELLA by Henri Friedrich Hemy (1818-1888).