Hymnody: The Season of Passiontide and Easter:
Vexilla Regis [Gregorian Chant]
“Vexilla Regis has always been one of the most renowned of early hymns, its imperial imagery a vivid reminder of the Christianizing of the Roman empire [a vexilla is the banner at the head of a Roman legion.] Reputedly, this hymn was written in 569 to welcome a procession bringing a fragment of the ‘true Cross’ to the convent of Poitiers.”
From: Sing, Ye Heavens: Hymns for All Time, The Cambridge Singers, Directed by John Rutter, Collegium Records, 2000.
Click here to read more about this hymn: Vexilla Regis
Click here to listen to the Cambridge Singers:
Vexilla Regis prodeunt:
Fulget crucis mysterium,
Quo carne carnis Conditor
Suspensus est patibulo.
Impleta sunt quae concinit
David fidelis carmine,
Regnavit a lingo Deus.
Arbor decora et fulgida
Ornata Regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite
Tam sancta membra tangere.
O crux ave, spes unica
Hoc Passionis tempore,
Auge piis justiciam
Reisque dona veniam.
Te summa Deus Trinitas
Collaudet omnis spiritus:
Quos per crucis mysterium
Salvas, rege per saecula. Amen.
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow;
Where he in flesh, our flesh who made,
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid.
Fulfilled in all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
Amidst the nations, God, saith he,
Hath reigned and triumphed from the tree.
O Tree of beauty, Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy limbs should find their rest.
O Cross, our own reliance, hail!
So may the power with us avail
To give new virtue to the saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
To thee, eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
[Translation by J. M. Neale]