Ubi Caritas, Deus Ibi Est


    Based on today’s Gospel readings on love and friendship, of God, of Christ, and of each other, much needed in our increasingly divided world, we thought we would post a couple of version of Ubi Caritas, Deus ibi est – Where there is love, there God,  is an ancient Gregorian chant, which goes back to the 8th century, composed perhaps by the Carolingian priest, scholar and hymnodist Paulinus of Aquilea in 796, durin the so-called, an inaptly called, ‘Dark Ages’. The chant version is haunting in its beauty and simplicity:

    There have been various polyphonic versions, the one here by Maurice Duruflé, organist and composer, was published in 1960, which seems hard to believe, given what was going on in the 60’s, musically and otherwise. But beauty may be found in the least expected places and times. Duruflé and his wife – also musically trained – were liturgically and musically conservative and tradition. They attended – unwittingly, we may presume – a ‘jazz Mass’ in 1969, and Mrs. Duruflé was visibly upset, with the great composer calling the experience a ‘scandalous travesty’. Just so, and we hope we may be nearing the end of that era.

    Duruflé’s adaptation of this ancient chant – eminently fitting for the sacredness of the liturgy – builds on a theme of the first line of the chant, to transcendent effect. Our college schola has sung this numerous times, and it is a delight to sing, to hear and to pray.

    For those who would like the text, here it be, in the original Latin, and English:

    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.
    Where charity and love are, there God is.
    The love of Christ has gathered us into one.
    Let us exult, and in Him be joyful.
    Let us fear and let us love the living God.
    And from a sincere heart let us love each other (and Him).
    Where charity and love are, there God is.
    Therefore, whensoever we are gathered as one:
    Lest we in mind be divided, let us beware.
    Let cease malicious quarrels, let strife give way.
    And in the midst of us be Christ our God.
    Where charity and love are, there God is.
    Together also with the blessed may we see,
    Gloriously, Thy countenance, O Christ our God:
    A joy which is immense, and also approved:
    Through infinite ages of ages. Amen.