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Vexílla Regis  |  2020  |  Alternatum with TTB a cappella

Vexilla Regis, a hymn to the Holy Cross, which is believed to have been first sung as a processional chant on November 19, 569.  It accompanied the translation of a relic of the True Cross from Byzantium to Poitiers, where the Frankish queen, St. Radegunda, had retired and founded the Abbey of the Holy Cross.  Venantius Fortunatus, a 39 year-old cleric and Italian “poet in residence”, was inspired to write its eight verses to mark the occasion.  In the 10th century the last two verses were replaced before being adopted into the Latin Church’s universal divine office for Passion-tide and the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross (Sept 14).  In the interest of Latin prosody, the hymn was heavily revised in the 17th century but restored to its ancient form at the turn of the 20th century.  


premiered:  Lied Center for the Performing Arts, September 2020 for Paul Barnes' piano program, A Bright Sadness.  


Vexílla Regis | 2020 | Alternatum with TTB a cappella

  • Translation

    The banners of the King go forth, the mystery of the Cross shines, by which life overcame death and by death gave birth to life.

    Which was pierced by the sharp point of the lance, from the stain of sin to wash us, shedding water and blood.

    Now is fulfilled what was foretold by David in his faithful hymn, saying to the nations: God has reigned from a tree.

    O tree, fair and radiant, with royal purple adorned, chosen with thy worthy boughs to touch such sacred limbs.

    O blessed tree, from whose branches hung the redemption of the world; thou, from whom his body hangs, dost snatch from hell its prey.

    Hail, O Cross, our only hope! At this Passiontide, [In this thy triumphant glory,] increase grace to the just and blot out the sin of the wicked.

    Thee, holy Trinity, fount of salvation, let every spirit praise. To whom the victory of the Cross thou givest, give also its prize.

    ~Translation: Parish Book of Chant

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