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panis angelicus

English translation: bread of heaven

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Latin term or phrase:panis angelicus
English translation:bread of heaven
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20:54 Nov 4, 2003
Latin to English translations [Non-PRO]
Latin term or phrase: panis angelicus
panis angelicus.latin words in a song at church.
lucille samany
O Lord most holy
I think, according to link
Selected response from:

United Kingdom
Local time: 06:14
Grading comment
it all makes sense now.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

Summary of answers provided
4 +5The bread of angels
Jolanta Schimenti
3O Lord most holy



13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
O Lord most holy

I think, according to link

    Reference: http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/0021924/details.html
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:14
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
Grading comment
it all makes sense now.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Ariser: as song title, but literally: Angelic or Holy Bread + it is panis not panus
13 mins

neutral  Chris Rowson: Bread of Heaven was what we used to sing ... :-)
7 hrs

disagree  David Moore: but totally agree with Chris
10 hrs

neutral  Christopher Crockett: If a literal translation is what is sought, then this answer is not correct.
16 hrs

disagree  gianfranco: (moderator) I have fixed the glossary and ungraded the answer. It must be graded again by the asker or it will be done automatically by the sofware.
18 hrs

agree  xxxgeoffity: I'm grateful for this explanation. There seem to be many mis-translations of this text. This one agrees with every detail of the Latin form and the historical context makes sense.
2096 days
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29 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
The bread of angels

Panis angelicus fit panis hominum;
Dat panis coelicus figuris terminum.
O res mirabilis! Manducat Dominum
Pauper, pauper, servus et humilis.

What do the words of this anthem mean? Something to do with angels, perhaps? Given César Franck's heavily romantic music you might well think so. In fact they are a celebration of the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

In St John's Gospel, Jesus says "unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you". This was not easy to understand, and some of his disciples replied "this is a hard saying; who can accept it". Ignatius of Antioch (probably a disciple of Peter and John) wrote in support of the concept in 106AD, as did Ambrose of Milan in 397AD. Early medieval philosophers (the Scholastics) in the twelfth century discussed how this might happen, and the term "transubstantiation" was coined. It was decided that the Eucharistic bread is not merely a symbol but really becomes Christ's flesh. The "accidents" of the bread (its shape, colour, texture and taste) remain the same, but its intangible "substance" (its real nature) changes. This was accepted as an official church dogma at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, and reconfirmed at the Council of Trent in 1545-63.

To celebrate this doctrine, Pope Urban IV established the feast of Corpus Christi ("the body of Christ") in 1264. He asked St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) to compose some hymns in honour of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and St Thomas wrote five; one of which is Sacris Solemniis ("our solemn feast"). The words of "Panis angelicus" form the sixth and penultimate stanza. They can be translated as follows:

The bread of angels becomes the bread of man;
This bread of heaven does away with symbols.
What a marvel! The poor, the servant and the humble
May feed on their Lord.
Many Protestant churches believe that the bread is only a symbol, a belief known as Commemoration. But some Protestant churches (especially the Lutherans) believe in Consubstantiation which holds that the body of Christ and the bread are both present in the consecrated Eucharist; this view is close to that of Transubstantiation.

Anglican Churches generally use the term "real presence", which covers a wide range of views between Transubstantiation and Commemoration. This typical "fudge" was adopted in the time of Elizabeth I following the sometimes violent arguments during her father's reign. Elizabeth's famous response to the question was:

Christ was the word that spake it.
He took the bread and brake it;
And what his words did make it
That I believe and take it.
The Orthodox Church, like the Catholic Church, teaches that the bread truly becomes the body of Christ but (perhaps wisely) they have refrained from philosophical speculation and simply refer to the Eucharist as a "mystery", whose full understanding is beyond human comprehension.

Mike Leuty


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© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 13th September 2003

    Reference: http://www.stpetersnottingham.org/music/panisangelicus.html
Jolanta Schimenti
Local time: 01:14
Native speaker of: Native in LithuanianLithuanian
PRO pts in pair: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Ariser
2 mins
  -> Thank you!

agree  Will Matter
3 hrs
  -> Thanks!

agree  Christopher Crockett: Yes. "panis angelicus" is clearly *NOT* "god of life". On the other hand, it's not --literally-- "bread of angels" either (that would be "panis angelorum". "Angelic bread" is what we have here, literally. However, "of angels" is o.k.ed by Poetic License.
16 hrs

agree  gianfranco
18 hrs

agree  xxxgeoffity: Christopher, panis angelicus is literally "bread of the angel". "Angelicus" is genitive singular, 4th declension.
2096 days
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