Lesson Notes: Latin Prayers and Hymns

Latin Prayers and Hymns

Next month’s classroom lesson on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist includes some time in adoration, including Benediction and the singing of two traditional hymns written a long time ago by Saint Thomas Aquinas.  We love this activity and the exposure it gives everyone to the ancient traditions of the Church, but the first time we did it our audience was just not adequately prepared.  And that’s how this lesson came about.

So what’s the big deal about Latin anyway?  Historically, when the Church began, Latin was the language common to all educated people in the western world and as more of them became Christians, it became the Church’s official language and the shared language for Catholics worldwide.

Today, Latin is not claimed by any particular country, so the Church shows no partiality in this choice.  For example, if Portuguese were the official Church language, She would seem to be showing favor to Portugal.

Because Latin is a “dead language,” it does not evolve in the same was that a spoken language does.  (Consider the current meaning of “mouse” and “text” and compare that to your great-grandparents’ definitions.) Because the meanings of Latin words do not change, it is an excellent safeguard for communicating the unchanging truths of the Faith.

The activities for this lesson are found in the QR link to the audio.  (Check the back cover of the lesson.)  At the very least, listen to O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo so you’re familiar with the hymns for next month’s gathering.  If you’d like to go deeper, the prayers of the Rosary are also included.  Even very young children can learn the Sign of the Cross in Latin, and your family may enjoy praying an entire Rosary while listening along.

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