Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord

Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord. Latin, Irish, perhaps 6th century, translated by John Mason Neale* (1818-1866). The Latin text, beginning ‘Sancti, venite, Christi corpus sumite’, is from the early Irish liturgical MS known as the Bangor Antiphonary*, written at the monastery of Bangor, County Down, between 680 and 691. It may date from the 6th century, making it ‘the oldest eucharistic hymn in Western Europe’ (Companion to Church Hymnal, 2005, p. 559). It was headed ‘Ymnum quando communicarent sacerdotes’ (‘hymn while the priests are communicating’). It is sometimes attributed to St Sechnall*, which would make it earlier than the 6th century. Neale’s translation was made for his...

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