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Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!

posted Nov 21, 2010, 2:38 PM by Steven Vaughan

As you know, this Sunday we celebrate the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King.  This festival was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI as a proclamation to combat the secularization of society and to call on everyone, including governments, to submit to Christ.  The music is appropriately both festive and solemn, mindful of the majesty and awe of God, the glory of Christ’s reign, and our sharing in it.

 

The above hymn chant (that the choir sings at the 11:45 mass) was sung at the election and coronation of Pope Pius XII in 1939.  It is set to a 1933 melody by Czech composer Jan Kunc, and used as Radio Vaticana’s theme.  Translated, it means

 
Christ is the victor, Christ is King,

Christ is the ruler of the world!

 

The pastor of St Louis’ Holy Cross Parish, Msgr. Martin Hellreigel, adapted this text in 1941 into To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King.  He set it to the melody of an 1870 chorale, Ich Glaub an Gott.  This was his heart-felt rebuttal to the darkness overtaking his German homeland at that time.

 

In 1856, Sir George Elvey composed a tune setting for Hark! The Song of Jubilee, though we know it better as Hail, Redeemer, King Divine or Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.  The tune is st. george’s windsor, named after the Royal Castle’s Chapel in England where he was organist for forty-seven years.  He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1871.

 

Elvey composes a tune in 1868 called diademata (meaning “crowns”) for Crown Him with Many Crowns.  Its triumphant mood and universal sound make a magnificent setting for the text, which is based on Revelation 19:12; and written by a former Anglican minister just three years after converting to Roman Catholicism at the age of 48.

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