Panis Angelicus Lyrics and Text Translation

Composed by Cesar Franck in 1872

Panis Angelicus
ruthdaniel3444/Flickr Creative Commons

Panis Angelicus of 1872 is from the hymn Sacris solemniis written by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas wrote the song which translates in Latin to "Bread of Angels" or "Angelic Bread." The song was created for the Feast of Corpus Christi, a celebration of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This event provided a time of feast and prayers for the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours, or canonical hours, known as the Breviary which included various psalms, hymns, readings, and prayers.

The Hymn Set to Music

Panis Angelicus is often treated as a separate hymn and set to music, just as Cesar Franck did. This particular composition is one of Franck's most famous works, and this type of sacred music was used for liturgical purposes — customary public worship by religious groups. Originally made for tenor, organ, harp, cello and double bass, this unique work was created into a three-voice Mass in 1861.

The melody of Panis Angelicus encompasses words that exaggerate and accentuate some passages. Following the beginning, the Maestro Bocelli's voice offers diction to certain words and phrases repeated two times, like "dat" and "pauper, servus et humilis."

Belgian-French Composer Cesar Franck

Working in Paris during his lifetime, composer and pianist Cesar Franck became one of the main leaders in French music to offer an emotional engagement, technical density, and significance that famous German songwriters held. Franck was born in Belgium and became a music teacher. He received his education from the Conservatory of Liege and became a student of Antonin Reicha, a professor of Berlioz, Liszt, and Gounod.

Franck soon became an organist who was largely talented in composition and known for works in several musical areas such as orchestral, sacred, chamber, organ and piano. He was born in 1822 and died in 1890 at the age of 67, leaving behind a legacy of other additional, extraordinary works such as "Prélude, Fugue, et Variation", op. 18 and the "Grande Pièce Symphonique", op. 17.

Latin Text

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

English Translation

The angel's bread becomes the bread of men
The heavenly bread ends all symbols
Oh, miraculous thing! The body of the Lord will nourish
The poor, poor, and humble servant
The poor, poor, and humble servant

People Who Have Covered Panis Angelicus

  • Andrea Bocelli: Italian classical crossover tenor and singer-songwriter who has been blind since twelve-years-old.
  • John McCormack: An Irish tenor who performed opera and famous songs with a talent for diction and breath control.
  • Renee Fleming: An American soprano and opera singer with a full lyric soprano voice who has been awarded several Grammy awards for her classical interpretations.
  • Chloe Agnew: The Irish singer and songwriter who gained fame from the music group Celtic Woman.
  • Brian Friel: Dramatist, short story writer, and creator of Field Day Theatre Company from Ireland.