April 9, 2013

Abroad the Regal Banners Fly / Vexilla Regis Proeunt

Now Shines the Cross' Mystery 

Abroad the Regal Banners Fly is a translation of the Latin hymn, Vexilla Regis Proeunt by Venantius Fortunatus (c.530-c.609). As poet and hymnodist in the Merovingian Court of the Franks, he was asked by his patroness, Queen Radegunda to compose a fitting processional hymn for the arrival of a large relic from the True Cross that had been sent from the Byzantine Emperor Justin II and Empress Sophia. This was done in response to a request the Queen had made for relics for the Abbey Church of the convent at Poitier she had founded and retired to after the death of husband, Chlotar I. St. Radegund was canonized in the 9th century. In the Roman Breviary, Vexilla Regis was traditionally sung at Vespers from Passion Sunday to Holy Thursday. One early English translation is by William K. Blount (d.1717) and set to the tune, Primo Dierum. Another popular translation, The Royal Banners Forward Go by the Anglican Minister, John Mason Neale (1818-1866) is set to the 7th century Sarum Plainsong, Vexilla Regis Proeunt (see video below). Both translations can be sung to the tune, Andernach. In the Divine Office (1974), Abroad the Regal Banners Fly is used during Lent and Holy Week.


Vexilla regis prodeunt
Fulget crucis mysterium
Quo carne carnis conditor
Suspensus est patibulo.

Quo vulneratus insuper
Mucrone diro lanceae
Ut nos lavaret crimine
Manavit unda et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine
Dicens In nationibus
Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida
Ornata Regis purpura
Electa digno stipite
Tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata, cujus brachiis
Saecli pependit pretium
Statera facta corporis
Praedamque tulit tartari.

O Crux ave, spes unica
In hac triumphi gloria
Auge piis justitiam
Reisque dona veniam.

Te summa Deus Trinitas
Collaudet omnis spiritus:
Quos per crucis mysterium
Salvas, rege per saecula. Amen.

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