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Draw Nigh and Take the Body of the Lord
Sancti, venite, Christi Corpus sumite

This is a 7th century Latin communion hymn found in the Bangor Antiphoner, a rare Irish liturgical manuscript. From the Monastery of Bangor where it was written between 680 and 691 it was carried to Bobbio, the famous monastery founded on Italian soil by the Irish missionary Columbanus after he and been driven out of Burgundy by the reigning powers. It was first published by Muratori in his Anecdota (1697-98), when he discovered it in the Ambrosian Library in Milan.

An old Irish legend tells of St. Patrick and his nephew Sechnall hearing angels sing it first during the offertory before the communion, and adds; So from that time to the present that hymn is chanted in Erinn when the body of Christ is received.

As the legend goes, St. Patrick and Sechnall had a terrible argument, with Sechnall accusing Patrick of preaching charity too little and Patrick threatening to run over Sechnall with his chariot. After being reconciled to each other in the graveyard of their church, they suddenly heard angels within the church singing this hymn.

John Mason Neale translated the Latin text in 1851 and published it in his Medieval Hymns. Here is his text:

Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord,
and drink the holy Blood for you outpoured.

Saved by that Body and that precious Blood,
with souls refreshed, we render thanks to God.

Salvation's Giver, Christ, the only Son,
by his dear Cross and Blood the victory won.

Offered was he for greatest and for least,
himself the Victim, and himself the Priest.

Victims were offered by the law of old,
which in a type this heavenly mystery foretold.

He, Ransomer, from death, and Light from shade,
now gives his holy grace his saints to aid;

approach ye then with faithful hearts sincere,
and take the safeguard of salvation here.

He that in this world rules his saints and shields,
to all believers life eternal yields.

With heavenly bread makes them that hunger whole,
gives living waters to the thirsting soul.

Alpha and Omega, to whom shall bow
all nations at the Doom, is with us now.

And the Latin original:

1. Sancti venite, Christi corpus sumite,
Sanctum bibentes, quo redempti sanguinem.

2. Salvati Christi corpore et sanguine,
A quo refecti laudes dicamus Deo.

3. Hoc sacramento corporis et sanguinis
Omnes exuti ab inferni faucibus.

4. Dator salutis, Christus filius Dei,
Mundum salvavit per crucem et sanguinem.

5. Pro universis immolatus Dominus
Ipse sacerdos exstitit et hostia.

6. Lege praeceptum immolari hostias,
Qua adumbrantur divina mysteria.

7. Lucis indultor et salvator omnium
Praeclaram sanctis largitus est gratiam.

8. Accedant omnes pura mente creduli,
Sumant aeterman salutis custodiam.

9. Sanctorum custos, rector quoque,
Dominus, Vitae perennis largitor credentibus.

10. Caelestem panem dat esurien- tibus,
De fonte vivo praebet sitientibus.

11. Alpha et omega ipse Christus Dominus
Venit, venturus iudicare homines.

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