A religious poem in the Latin language. Although its origin is ancient and unknown, it may have been penned by St. Thomas Aquinas (Casquero & Reta, Lírica Latina Medieval II - Poesía Religiosa, 1997).
Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine
Vere passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine
Cuius latus perforatum fluxit aqua et sanguine
Esto nobis praegustatum mortis in examine
O Jesu dulcis, o Jesu pie, o Jesu fili Mariae.
(Loose) English translation:
Hail, true Body, truly born of the Virgin Mary mild
Truly offered, wracked and torn, on the Cross for all defiled,
From Whose love pierced, sacred side
Flowed Thy true Blood's saving tide:
Be a foretaste sweet to me
In my death's great agony.
O my loving, Gentle One,
Sweetest Jesus, Mary's Son.
Because of the Latin version's innate beauty, the poem has been set to magnificent choral compositions by William Byrd (one of Byrd's most-performed pieces and considered by some to be his crowning achievement), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (KV. 618, written just months before his death), Franz Schubert, and Gabriel Faure.