Ubi Caritas Lyrics and Translation

Meaning and Context of the Gregorian Chant "Where Charity Is"

"Ubi Caritas" is a Gregorian chant written somewhere between 300 and 1100 A.D. and used primarily as an antiphon in the Catholic Church during Holy Thursday. This photo shows the detail of Passion of Jesus Christ at Sacred Heart Church.
"Ubi Caritas" is a Gregorian chant written somewhere between 300 and 1100 A.D. and used primarily as an antiphon in the Catholic Church during Holy Thursday. This photo shows the detail of Passion of Jesus Christ at Sacred Heart Church. Pascal Deloche/Getty Images

What began as a Gregorian chant that some music scholars believe originated before the formation of the Catholic Mass, Ubi Caritas ("Where Charity Is") has evolved into many iterations and compositions. The actual origin of the chant is unknown and ambiguous, although musicologists and researchers believe it was written between 300 and 1100 CE.

Settings and Rites

Today Ubi Caritas is performed in a variety of settings and traditions, including its typical use as an antiphone during the Catholic Church's washing of feet ceremony.

That ceremony is performed on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), which is the Thursday before Easter Sunday commemorating the Last Supper where Jesus's washed his disciples' feet. Ubi Caritas is also sometimes performed during Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Perhaps one of the most popular compositions of Ubi Caritas is by Maurice Durufle. Durufle composed the arrangement in 1960 as part of his Quatre motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, Op. 10, by using only the first stanza of the original chant. He also used the chant's original melody, layering and weaving it into a sublime, polyphonic, and understated choral work. Below are links to several different YouTube recordings of Ubi Caritas compositions. As you'll hear, though some share the same influences of the original chant, each piece is truly unique.

Different Composers & Compositions of Ubi Caritas

Each link in the chart below links to the version on YouTube.

  • Ivo Antognini, Commissioned by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (2015)
    Performed by the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire's Concert Choir

Latin Text

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul quoque cum beatis videamus,
Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus:
Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum,
Saecula per infinita saeculorum. Amen.

English Translation

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time, therefore, are gathered into one:
Lest we be divided in mind, let us beware.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease.
And in the midst of us be Christ our God.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time we see that with the saints also,
Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good, Unto the
World without end.

Amen.