Monday, February 18, 2013

A walk in the clouds

For all the millions of times I have listened to Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus" -- above conducted by Riccardo Muti -- I never actually followed the text. I know, how dumb is that? But it is so beautiful anyway, and usually the words are not right in front of you, so I never bothered.

It is terrible how nobody Catholic knows any of the ancient prayers that have come down, or should have come down anyway, through the centuries. Think of all the prayers that Mozart and Beethoven grew up with and knew just like breathing.

On the other hand it is a great experience to be learning this all bit by bit as a grown-up.

Yesterday at church we had to sing the Gregorian chant "Ave Verum Corpus." That is new to me and it is in its own way just as moving.

God love Leonard Bernstein, he knew what the words meant. I have posted this before but I never get over it. Look at his face. Look at him getting ready. He was not Catholic but he tapped into something universal in this hymn, in this prayer. I know millions of Catholics who are not half as reverent, I will tell you that.

Here is our crash course in the "Ave Verum Corpus":

Ave, verum corpus
Natum de Maria Virgine,
Vere passum immolatum
In Cruce pro homine,
Cujus latus perforatum
Unda fluxit et sanguine,
Esto nobis praegustatum
In mortis examine.

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.

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