Archive for March, 2004

O ESCA VIATORUM

12 March 2004

I have an exceptionally dysfunctional extended family that I keep hidden and at arm’s length. Who doesn’t? LOL.

Most of them I have not seen for years.  This is just the way things work out naturally in most cases.  However, there is also always going on some Big Split or other where each has their turn to be excommunicated. Hey, years ago, for example, I didn’t see a brother for 12 years. Seriously. And even though he only lived a few streets away. And he raised a family of his own away from us because he was outlawed, so I grew up never knowing them! He was bullied out of the family, and it was only solved when he capitulated [to understand how this works see my post called “Decisions” — EDIT 2006-03-13] and left his wife and kids to return to his “real” family.

This is far from unique; to this day, I have not seen a sister for 20 years!

I don’t know if she’s dead or alive, maybe she has kids I don’t know about! I’ll probably never know anything about her; to be truthful, I don’t even remember what she looked like.

However, the one thing I do remember is that she sang a song called “O Esca Viatorum“.  She must have sung it a lot when I was little for I could always hum the tune, and I could recall the first few words —

O Esca Viatorum, O Panis Angelorum

I always liked the tune; it clearly made an impression on my young mind.  I would estimate that the last time I heard it sung (and I have only ever heard her sing it), would have been in the early 1970s.

So I went to the Internet and typed in a search for “O Esca Viatorum”, hoping the spelling was right — and up came:

“O esca viatórum,
O panis angelórum, O manna coélitum,
Esuriéntes ciba,  Dulcédine non priva
Corda quæréntium, Corda quæréntium.

“O lympha, fons amóris,
Qui puro Salvatóris, E corde prófluis
Te sitiéntes pota, Hæc sola nostra vota,
His una súfficis, His una súfficis.

“O Jesu, Tuum vultum,
Quem cólimus occúltum, Sub panis spécie,
Fac, ut remóto velo, Post líbera in cælo
Cernámus fácie, Cernámus fácie. “

I found a link to the tune in sheet music, and I was amazed to find that I was pretty close! What a memory!

It is a lovely piece of music, and I found a translation by W.H. Shewring that, while somewhat inaccurate,  manages to rhyme!

“O  Food of travellers, angels’ Bread,
Manna wherewith the blest are fed,
Come nigh, and with Thy sweetness fill
The hungry hearts that seek Thee still.

“O fount of love, O well unpriced,
Outpouring from the heart of Christ,
Give us to drink of very Thee,
And all we pray shall answered be.

“And bring us to that time and place
When this Thy dear and veiled face
Blissful and glorious shall be seen –
Ah Jesus, with no veil between. “

Music is a marvel, isn’t it? This song is the only link I have to my much older and long-lost sister.

[START EDIT — 2008-09-05]

Using YouTube and others I found that the tune is Franz Joseph Haydn’s, and that there are other tunes for this — especially when it comes to typical, traditional Italian weddings!

[END EDIT — 2008-09-05]

The Internet is fantastic, isn’t it? This vague memory was realised within a few minutes using a search engine and a blog. Brilliant — enjoy!

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