A poem in honour of the various members of Christ on the Cross. A fifteenth-century manuscript ascribes it to St. Bonaventure, and Daniel thinks that this "inspired singer of the Cross" could well have composed it. The commonest ascription is to St. Bernard; and Trench thinks that this and other poems "were judged away from him on very slight and insufficient grounds by Mabillon ", who places the hymn among the spurious ( aliena et supposititia ) works of the saint (P.L., CLXXXIV, 1319-24). Although the saint died in 1153, and no manuscript of the hymn antedates the fourteenth century, Daniel favours the ascription of two of the cantos to the saint. Mone judged the hymn of French origin, and declared that all hope of restoring the text correctly lay in the future discovery of French manuscripts This task was attempted by M. Hauréau ("Poèmes latins attribués à Saint Bernard", 1890, pp. 70-73), who, finding it in only three manuscripts (two in Paris, one at Grenoble ), all of the fifteenth century, thinks it incredible that the hymn should have been composed by St. Bernard.
It is divided into seven cantos, headed respectively: "Ad Pedes", "Ad Genua", "Ad Manus", "Ad Latus", "Ad Pectus", "Ad Cor", "Ad Faciem" (To the Feet, Knees, Hands, Side, Breast, Heart, Face). Each canto contains five stanzas of ten lines each, except the canto "Ad Cor", which has seven. The manuscripts give many variant texts and many additional titles (as "To the Mouth", "Shoulders", "Ears", "the Scourging", "the Crowning "). Mone accepts only four cantos (To the Feet, Knees, Hand, Side) as original. Daniel accepts but two original cantos (those addressing the Feet and the Knees), but not their titles, which he believes of later coinage. He thinks the oldest text is found in a Lichtenthal manuscript (fifteenth century) containing only the cantos beginning "Salve mundi salutare" and "Salve, salve rex sanctorum", under the "probably true " title of "Planctus super passionem Domini". "Whoever," he says, "reads the first hymn carefully, must see that it concerns the whole form of Christ suffering, and that the feet are mentioned for the sole reason that the poet places himself at the foot of the cross, prostrate and embracing the feet of the Saviour. The second poem, also, deals with the Passion generally, and only once, and passingly, alludes to the knees." He attributes both the titles and the elaborations to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when the devotion to the Five Wounds was growing. "Then the verses of Bernard offered convenient warps or threads in which might be interwoven the woof of devotion to the wounds singly." The first lines of the cantos are: 1. Salve mundi salutare (Ad Pedes); 2. Salve Jesu, Rex sanctorum (Ad Genua); 3. Salve Jesu, paster bone (Ad Manus); 4. Salve Jesu, summe bonus (Ad Latus); 5. Salve, salus mea, Deus (Ad Pectus); 6. Summi regis cor aveto (Ad Cor); 7. Salve caput cruentatum (Ad Faciem).
In St. Bernard's "Opuscula" (Venice, 1495), the seventh canto is addressed "To the Whole Body", and commences: "Salve Jesu reverende". Julian gives the first lines of some translations (by non-Catholics) of all the cantos except three and five, and remarks that "some of the parts have suffered from neglect", and that "this should be remedied by an able translator". In the second edition of the "Dict. of Hymnology", he refers to the translation of Mrs. E. M. Shapcote (a convert to Catholicism ) and gives the date as 1873. This was published first in the "Rosary Magazine" (1877 and 1878) and republished by Burns and Oates, London, 1879; its title is: "A Rhythmical Prayer to the Sacred Members of Jesus Hanging upon the Cross".God of mySalvation, hail to Thee;
A different arrangement of the poem, found in Horst's "Paradisus animae christianae" (1644), has been translated by Canon Oakeley (1850), and (probably) by W. J. Copeland. The first lines of both are given by Julian. The paucity of Catholic translations is doubtless due to the fact that the hymn appears never to have been in liturgical use. However, the Roman Breviary hymn "Jesu dulcis amor meus" ( Lauds of the feast of the Most Holy Winding Sheet of Our Lord , assigned to Friday after the second Sunday in Lent ) is made up of lines taken, with some alterations, from widely separated cantos. This short poem contains five stanzas of the type: "Jesu, dulcis amor meus" (l. 36); "Ac si praesens sis, accedo" (l. 6); "Te complector cum affectu' (l. 13); "Tuorum memor vulnerum" (l. 15). The following stanzas comprise lines 8, 97, (?), 65; 321 (Salve caput cruentatum), 326, 328, 330; 156 (Salve latus Salvatoris), 166, 169, 170; 106, 116, (?), 40. This curiously constructed hymn (the lines are here numbered as they are found in P. L., loc. cit.) has neither rhyme nor classical quantity, while the fourth line of each stanza is in iambic rhythm and the other three lines are in trochaic rhythm. Three translations are indicated below.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online