A new look at ‘O Come All Ye faithful’

From Fr Martin Cochem’s Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

This last verse of this carol takes on a whole new significance when looked at through Eucharistic eyes. Wilcocks penned the greatest chord in the repertoire for “WORD of the Father now in flesh appearing.” This is not only true of the incarnation but at the consecration in every Mass. The holy spirit overshadows the priest as He did Our Blessed Lady and the Eternal Word is Made Flesh.

Venite Adoremus!

Vexilla Regis

As a director of liturgical music, I have the privilege of preparing, teaching and performing the great chants of the church and her rich polyphonic repertoire. I have often thought that I would like to find a way to share the beauty and theological depth of the texts which comprise the liturgy. They have indeed been inspired by God the Holy Ghost through generations and many were penned by saints. I hope that sharing liturgical texts, liturgical chant and motets, I might aid others in deepening their appreciation of the prayer of the Church and in fostering their own personal prayer life.

The first text that I would like to share is the Vespers Hymn for Passiontide, Vexilla Regis. The hymn was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609). The hymn is also used on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

VEXILLA Regis prodeunt:
Fulget Crucis mysterium,
Qua vita mortem pertulit,
Et morte vitam protulit.

Quae vulnerata lanceae
Mucrone diro, criminum
Ut nos lavaret sordibus,
Manavit unda, et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus:
Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida,
Ornata regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite
Tarn sancta membra tangere.

Beata, cujus brachiis
Pretium pependit saeculi,
Statera facta corporis,
Tulitque praedam tartari.

O Crux ave spes unica,
Hoc passionis tempore
Piis adauge gratiam,
Reisque dele crimina.

Te, fons salutis Trinitas,
Collaudet omnis spiritus
Quibus Crucis victoriam
Largiris, adde praemium.

ABROAD the Regal Banners fly,
Now shines the Gross’s mystery;
Upon it Life did death endure,
And yet by death did life procure.

Who, wounded with a direful spear,
Did, purposely to wash us clear
From stain of sin, pour out a flood
Of precious Water mixed with

That which the Prophet-King of
Hath in mysterious verse foretold,
Is now accomplished, whilst we
God ruling nations from a Tree.

O lovely and refulgent Tree,
Adorned with purpled majesty;
Culled from a worthy stock, to
Those Limbs which sanctified

Blest Tree, whose happy branches
The wealth that did the world
The beam that did that Body
Which raised up hell’s expected

Hail, Cross, of hopes the most
Now in this mournful Passion
Improve religious souls in grace,
The sins of criminals efface.

Blest Trinity, salvation’s spring,
May every soul Thy praises sing;
To those Thou grantest conquest
The holy Cross, rewards apply.

Here is a recording of the original chant.
Here is a choral setting based on the chant by one of the best Catholic composers of all, Palestrina