Friday, August 5, 2011

O res mirabilis!

The Last Supper, Buoninsegna (c. 1255 - c. 1319)

It is interesting to me that in the painting above, seven of Christ’s disciples have haloes and five do not. I wonder why the artist painted them that way.

When I was a teenager, some of us who thought we were smart/cute/funny/all of the foregoing used to sing this highly irreverent jingle to the tune of the then-current Pepsi-Cola commercial:

Christianity hits the spot
Twelve apostles, that’s a lot
The Holy Ghost and the Virgin too
Christianity’s the thing for you.

Lightning did not strike us dead on the spot, evidence of God’s great love for and great patience with not-so-smart/cute/funny teenagers.

According to the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years and were fed miraculously with something they called “manna” (because they didn’t know what it was) that fell from heaven each day. They gathered up enough each morning to feed themselves for one day. If they tried to gather more than a day’s worth, it bred worms and stank. On the day before each Sabbath, on which they did not work because God had said, “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy,” they gathered enough manna for two days and it did not breed worms and stink. This is how the Israelites survived for forty years until they came to the Promised Land, which in actuality was only an eleven-days journey from Egypt. I guess GPS had not been invented yet.

According to the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth said, “I am that bread which came down from heaven” and also “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” and also “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

It’s all in the sixth chapter of The Gospel According To Saint John, which goes on to say that then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" and that Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”

As people used to say back in the sixties, “Heavy, man.”

John also says that from this time many of Christ’s disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

Panis Angelicus, a hymn written by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), has been set to music many times, perhaps most famously in 1872 by César Franck for voice, harp, cello, and organ.

Here are four renditions, one by Andrea Bocelli (3:58), one by Charlotte Church (4:00), one by Luciano Pavarotti (3:42), and one by Mirusia Louwerse (5:00).

Here is the Latin text of Panis Angelicus, with doxology:

Panis angelicus
fit panis hominum;
Dat panis coelicus
figuris terminum:
O res mirabilis!
Manducat Dominum
Pauper, servus et humilis.

Te trina Deitas
unaque poscimus:
Sic nos tu visita,
sicut te colimus;
Per tuas semitas
duc nos quo tendimus,
Ad lucem quam inhabitas.
Amen.

and here is an English translation:

The angelic bread
becomes the bread of men;
The heavenly bread
ends all prefigurations:
What wonder!
The Lord is eaten
by a poor and humble servant.

Triune God,
We beg of you:
visit us,
just as we worship you.
By your ways,
lead us where we are heading,
to the light in which you dwell.
Amen.

12 comments:

Putz said...

in our mormon theology the mana from heaven was a petroleum concoction and that is why it never lasted more than 24 hours and went back to it's stinky petoleum base<><>what to know more?????

Pat - Arkansas said...

I enjoyed the music, thank you. I almost didn't listen to Mirusia Louwerse, but am glad I did; I liked her rendition very much.

As to why there are no halos on the 'front five' I suggest that the gold leaf/paint used for the halos would have been opaque, thus blocking quite a bit of the view of the table. Just supposin'.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Not "rendition" but "presentation."

rhymeswithplague said...

Putz, your Mormon theology also says that Adam is our father and the only one with whom we have to do, and that when Adam left the Celestial City to come into the Garden of Eden, he brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. I'm sorry, but I don't believe that any more than I believe that manna from heaven was a petroleum concoction. But we can still be friends.

Pat, I was going to link to the first three presentations only, but then I found the one by Mirusia Louwerse and added it at the last minute. I like hers the best, although the clothing of the people onstage is a bit over the top.

A Lady's Life said...

When people live properly and orderly and honestly, following the laws we were given to follow, life would be easier.
Everything is not ok.
Every day people come up with outlandish ways and means to live
disrespecting the one true wayWe try to accomodate them and in return they bring us down.Then we wonder why things do not work out.
Money is also anti God.
God is not about politics and finance but about love,

Loren Christie said...

Thank you for leading me to this post... having a tough time and it is interesting how Jesus leads us to his words through others. -Loren

Wine in Thyme said...

See the rod in the background of the image, where one apostle has artlessly shrugged off and hung his toga/wrap? There's probably a halo rack or something similar behind the 5 apostles in the front. We just can't see it because it would ruin the aestethics of the painting. That's my theory anyway. I wasn't really there when it was first painted.

Wine in Thyme said...

See the rod in the background of the image, where one apostle has artlessly shrugged off and hung his toga/wrap? There's probably a halo rack or something similar behind the 5 apostles in the front. We just can't see it because it would ruin the aestethics of the painting. That's my theory anyway. I wasn't really there when it was first painted.

Wine in Thyme said...

See the rod in the background of the image, where one apostle has artlessly shrugged off and hung his toga/wrap? There's probably a halo rack or something similar behind the 5 apostles in the front. We just can't see it because it would ruin the aestethics of the painting. That's my theory anyway. I wasn't really there when it was first painted.

rhymeswithplague said...

A Lady's Life, I have no idea what you said, but I suspect that too much Canadian Club managed to find its way into your bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream last evening. If that was not the case, a thousand pardons....

Loren, something told me to alert you to its having been created. I'm glad it helped.

Wine, I never thought of the possibility of a halo rack. You may not have been there, but you certainly know your art history.

rhymeswithplague said...

Wine, anything you say three times is true.

Wine in Thyme said...

that's my impatience getting the better of me. Didn't load quickly enough and even though I realize that pusing the "enter" key again won't make it load faster, I push the key anyway.