Very soon we shall be singing the sequences for Pentecost and Corpus Christi Sunday. The sequence is the chanted hymn that is recited before the proclamation of the Gospel during the Mass. The sequence began developing within the liturgy around the 9th century, and by the 12th century many hundreds of variant sequences had been composed, so much so that almost every Mass and feast day of the liturgical calendar seemed to have a sequence. With the liturgical reforms of 1570, many of the sequences had become overly complex or long, crowding out the more essential elements of the liturgy, and so many were taken out from the liturgy and instead kept as hymns for other uses. Only the best and most ancient 5 were kept for certain liturgical days: Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, All Souls, and Our Lady of Sorrows. In our day, the sequences for Easter and Pentecost are mandatory, while the others remain options.
Here are the two upcoming sequences for you to meditate and pray with.
I am, in our Lord, yours.
Fr. Brian Trueman
Holy Spirit, Lord Divine,
Come, from heights in heav’n and shine.
Come with blessed radiance bright!
Come, O Father of the poor,
Come, whose treasured gifts endure.
Come, our heart’s unfailing light!
Of consolers, wisest, best,
And our souls’ most welcome guest,
Sweet refreshment, sweet repose.
In our labor rest most sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat,
Consolation in our woes.
Light most blessed, shine with grace
In our heart’s most secret place,
Fill your faithful through and through!
Left without your presence here,
Life itself would disappear,
Nothing thrives apart from you!
Cleanse our soiled hearts of sin,
Arid souls refresh within,
Wounded lives to health restore!
Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the wayward home once more!
On the faithful who are true
And profess their faith in you,
In your sev’n-fold gift descend!
Give us virtue’s sure reward,
Give us your salvation, Lord,
Give us joys that never end!
Corpus Christi Sequence
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.
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.