Panis Angelicus – Cèsar Franck

Milla Jovovich as Joan of Arc in 'The Messenger'
Milla Jovovich as Joan of Arc in ‘The Messenger’


Music Monday  – Third in my series where I put in a link (two here) to a piece of  music that leaves me thinking. Press the word ‘clip’ to hear the appropriate version mentioned in the text.

I would like Cèsar Franck‘s Panis Angelicus played at my funeral.

I love every version, and it is sung by many, from Renée Fleming to Andrea Bocelli.  I was moved when the BBC documentary  “Pavarotti: A Life in Seven Arias” showed Luciano Pavarotti and his father, Fernando, sing it, as they did regularly, as a duet in Modena Cathedral in 1978 clip

But, then I saw the film The Messenger about Joan of Arc (1999).  The aria is played while the Maid of Orleans,  in full armour, leads her army into battle on horseback. It was the most moving version I have ever heard. I later discovered that this emotional rendition was sung by Charlotte Church.  Sony has released neither the film, nor the soundtrack on DVD. But I found this  clip of Charlotte, that talent Welsh angel, singing it on her 13th birthday.

Panis Angelicus written by St Thomas Aquinas (Music composed by Cèsar Franck in 1872)

Panis angelicus
fit panis hominum;
Dat panis cœlicus
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.

May the Bread of Angels
Become bread for mankind;
The Bread of Heaven puts
All foreshadowings to an end;
Oh, thing miraculous!
This body of God will nourish
the poor, the servile, and the humble.

You God, Three
And One, we beseech;
That You visit us,
As we worship You.
By Your ways,
lead us where we are heading,
to the light that You inhabitest.

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