Ubi Caritas is taken from the antiphons sung during the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet at the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. (In the Ordinary Form it is sung at the Offertory on Holy Thursday. ) This hymn written in Mode 6, the ‘pious mode,’ speaks of the infinite joys of Christian love and is intimately linked to Eucharistic adoration. Little is known of its origins but this hymn may have been written shortly after the first Millenium by a French composer. Recent tradition has the first line as “Ubi caritas et amor” (where charity and love are), but certain very early manuscripts show “Ubi caritas est vera” (where charity is true). The Roman Missal of 1962 favours the former version and this is the version we are studying.
The text of the first verse can be translated as “Where charity and love are, God is there also; since the love of God has brought us together, let us rejoice, love the living God, and love one another with sincerity.”
There is a polyphonic setting of Ubi Caritas by Duruflé which we sang last year on Holy Thursday. There is also a Taizé chant of Ubi Caritas Est.
We will be singing Ubi Caritas at Communion on the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time.