Some places don’t have perpetual Adoration. For those who only have Adoration for a certain amount of time, a ritual called Benediction takes place at the end. During Benediction, the priest or deacon kneels in front of the Blessed Sacrament and a hymn called the Tantum Ergo is sung. It’s my favorite Latin hymn, mostly because it’s the only one I know and understand! The reason I understand the Tantum Ergo is that the translated English lyrics were printed alongside the Latin lyrics in the little pamphlet my parish uses for Adoration.
The translated lyrics of the Tantum Ergo are thus:
Down in adoration falling,
This great Sacrament we hail,
O'er ancient forms of worship
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,
When our human senses fail.
To the Everlasting Father,
And the Son who made us free
And the Spirit, God proceeding
From them Each eternally,
Be salvation, honour, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.
It’s not a direct translation, but the poetry is beautiful, which is no surprise given that Thomas Aquinas was the one who wrote it.
Towards the end of Thomas Aquinas’s life, he received a vision that stunned him so much, he stopped writing altogether, saying that all he wrote up to that point was straw compared to what he saw. My theology professors described it as him receiving a glimpse of Heaven. It’s no surprise that Thomas Aquinas died shortly after he received that vision. I don’t blame him for not wanting to write anymore because he had a glimpse of Heaven. If I ever saw Heaven and it was anything like how John describes it in today’s passage, I’d probably stop writing myself!
The book of Revelations describes the New Jerusalem as a city made of precious stones and gold, but what really caught my eye was that John said that in the New Jerusalem didn’t need a temple or a sun or a moon because the Lamb was the temple and provided light for the city. John also says that in the New Jerusalem, the gates are always open and there is no night. But why is that? Because in Heaven, we are eternally in God’s presence.
The Mass and Adoration are glimpses of Heaven on Earth. It’s not easy to see a city of gold and jewels, let alone the holy men and women and the angels that sing God’s praises without end. But for an hour, we are in God’s presence. We join the choir of angels, singing God’s praises.
After the priest or deacon lifts the monstrance, everyone recites the Divine Praises. I remember praying these with a friend as we travelled to a retreat, which helped the driver of the car (who was tired and a bit under the weather) relax. I invite you to pray the Divine Praises today, whether you pray them at Adoration, on the road, or just at home.
Blessed be God.
Blessed be his holy name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be his most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be his most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the most holy sacrament of the altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in his angels and in his saints.
God bless dearest sisters in Christ!