“O sacred banquet!
in which Christ is received,
the memory of his Passion is renewed,
the mind is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory to us is given.
- O Sacrum Convivium
whom thy glory hidest ‘neath these shadows mean;
lo, to thee surrendered, my whole heart is bowed,
tranced as it beholds thee, shrined within the cloud.”
- Adoro te devote
types and shadows have their ending, for the newer rite is here;
faith, our outward sense befriending, makes our inward vision clear.”
- Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Just the three examples above demonstrate a consistent sense of wonder, mystery, and awe when writing about the Eucharist, and the above three texts have been set to music seemingly countless times. Originally, all of them were set to chant melodies, but over the centuries, composers of all styles and periods have used them with or without their associated chants. What Cleamon Downs has done, that you will hear on Sunday, is use the general elements of chant in a way that only more modern composers could. There is simply a “drone” from the organ (a note that holds throughout the entire piece), and the vocalist sings various lines of chant that often modulate. Parts of it will sound familiar, but other parts will sound quite new. The effect of the piece is in keeping with the spirit of Aquinas’ words. It invites us into the Sacrament of the Eucharist with a spirit of awe, mystery, and wonder.