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All Glory, Laud and Honor

posted Apr 16, 2011, 11:57 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2013, 2:59 PM ]
Born around 760 AD into a family of nobility, St. Theodulph flees Spain when it's conquered by Moors and becomes abbot of a monastery in Florence, Italy.  One of the most learned writers of that age, Charlemagne appoints him Bishop of Orleans, France, where  he serves as scholar, church reformer and theological advisor. As secretary of education, he creates schools for the people.  And as ambassador to Rome, he even revises the text of the Bible!   

But when Charlemagne dies in 814, his two sons squabble over the empire, tearing it apart.  The eldest, Pippin, leaves to star in his own Broadway musical, and the younger, Louis the Pious, accuses Theodulph of conspiring against the throne with their nephew, King Bernard of Italy.  For this alleged act of treason, Bernard is sentenced to being blinded, and Theodulph is imprisoned in a monastery. 

It was customary at this time for the clergy and choir to start the processional hymn in the town square and march to the church.  While in prison, Theodulph writes one for Palm Sunday...

Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, rex Christe redemptor

Legend has it that during the procession, King Louis passes the monastery where Theodulph is singing from his window, and is so moved he immediately liberates his prisoner.  However, the unfortunate truth is that Theodulph remains imprisoned until his death in 821. 

Translator John Mason Neale notes that up until the seventeenth century, the following verse was usually sung...

Be Thou, O Lord, the Rider, And we the little ass,
That to God's holy city Together we may pass.
 
Aren't you glad we don't sing that verse anymore?