The feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI on December 11, 1925, on the occasion of the closing of the Jubilee Year.
It must be said that the secularism against which the pope protested at the time has now become more arrogant than ever. Religion would be a strictly individual matter. Society could therefore do without God. We note that this is by no means the case and that these secular conquests have led to moral defeats, decadence of mores.
In the new Ordo, this feast was postponed to the end of November, to the last Sunday of the liturgical year, after that on which the Gospel of the end of the world is read. Mr. Gire, former Secretary General ofUna Voce and fine Gregorianist, rightly contested this move which seems to postpone this reign after the Last Judgment and thus distorts the meaning of the celebration. The new Ordo Missae assume this spirit which wants to be more eschatological. It is enough to read the changes that the reformers made in the prayers (Collection, Super Oblata or postcommunion) to be convinced. Or to note that two stanzas of the splendid hymn Te saeculorum vespers of the feast have been purely suppressed in the Liturgy Horarum of 2002. Here are these two stanzas :
Te nationum Praesides
Honor tollant publico,
Colant magistri, judices,
Leges and artes expressing.
That the leaders of the nations
Glorify you with public honours;
May masters and judges confess you,
May the laws and the arts bear your mark.
Submissa regum fulgeant
Tibi dicata insignia:
Mitic sceptro patriam
Domosque subde civium.
May the standards of kings be consecrated to you
And shine in submission to you,
That your sweet authority
Regent the fatherland and the hearths.
Unnecessary additional comments!
Introit: Dignus is Agnus
The text of the introit is taken from the Apocalypse of Saint John in chapter V. It is the great vision of the slain Lamb who alone is worthy to open the book with the seven seals, having merited universal royalty by his sacrifice. He receives the praises and acclamations of multitudes of angels with whom all creation unites.
Dignus is Agnus, which occísus est, accípere virtútem, et divinitátem et sapiéntiam, et fortitúdinem, et honórem, Ipsi glória et imperium in sǽcula sæculórum.
He is worthy the Lamb who was slain, to receive power, divinity, wisdom, strength and honor. His is the glory and the empire forever and ever.
This last sentence is taken from another passage of Revelation, at the beginning of the book. The melody of this introit is original, but we find usual formulas in many other pieces. She is very noble and solemn.
This introit is accompanied by the 1er verse of psalm 71, great messianic psalm that we will find gradually.
Deus judícium tuum Regi da: et justítiam tuam Fílio Regis.
O God, give to the King your judgment and to the King’s Son your righteousness.
The five cantos of the Proper of this Mass are modern since they were composed on the occasion of the institution of the feast in 1925. They nevertheless remain authentic Gregorian. It is true that they are adaptations of old types. This introit is for example modeled on the introit Dum Sanctificatus Saturday of the Vigil of Pentecost.
The text is taken from Psalm 71, one of the great messianic psalms.
Dominábitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flúmine usque ad términos orbis terrárum.
His power will extend from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth.
Et adorábunt eum omnes reges terræ: omnes gentes sérvient ei.
All the kings of the earth will worship him, all the nations will serve him.
It is indeed Christ the King, whose empire extends from sea to sea and from the river, perhaps the Euphrates, or the Jordan, to the ends of the earth. It is he whom all the mighty of the earth must adore and serve by submitting to his law. This text obviously reminds us of the feast of Epiphany where we find Psalm 71 several times, and it is therefore not surprising that we have taken up for this gradual the melody of that of Epiphany. which fits very well with today’s text.
Dom Gajard comments on the melody on the cover of an old non-reissued 33 rpm record:
“It is worth especially by its own beauty, its line, ample, powerful initially then, in the enthusiastic flights of the verse, extraordinarily flexible and balanced traversing by 2 times all the extent of the modal range to immediately calm down and rest in a great look of complacency”.
Hallelujah: Potestas ejus
The text comes from the prophet Daniel who had, the 1D year of the reign of Balthazar, king of Babylon, a vision which resembles that reported by Saint John in chapters XIII and XIV of the Apocalypse.
It is the proclamation of the eternal kingship of the Son of Man.
Potéstas ejus, potéstas ætérna, quæ non auferétur: et regnum ejus, quod non corrumpétur.
His power is an eternal power that will not be taken away, and his kingdom is a kingdom that will not be upset.
The Son of man, of course, is Christ; he has given himself this title many times, notably in front of Caiaphas. The melody is that of the alleluia of the IVe Sunday after Easter Christus resurgent : the risen Christ no longer dies, death will no longer prevail over him. The connection between the two texts is obvious. This melody is a magnificent, wide and solemn acclamation to Christ victorious over death and his enemies.
Offertory: Póstula a me
We find a messianic psalm, psalm 2.
Póstula a me, et dabo tibi gentes hereditátem tuam, et possessiónem tuam, términos terræ.
Ask me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your domain.
In the psalm, it is the king of Israel, whom by the sacred anointing God has made his son, that is to say his representative on earth to govern the nations in his name, but he is there too the figure of the Messiah, true son of God to whom all nations must submit. The melody of this offertory borrows its formulas from those of the offertory of the midnight mass and the mass of the day.
Fellowship: Seflow Dominus
We end the songs from the proper of the Mass of Christ the King with the communion antiphon Seflow the text of which is taken from Psalm 28, a song of praise to God for his majesty and omnipotence. This verse was chosen because of the word King which appears in it and which today applies to Christ. Moreover, it evokes the peace which is one of the benefits of the royalty of Our Lord.
Seflow Dóminus Rex in ætérnum.
The Lord sits on his throne, King for eternity.
Dóminus benedícet pópulo suo in pace.
The Lord will bless his people in peace.
The melody is full of simplicity, and of this peace of which the text speaks.
We want to say thanks to the author of this short article for this remarkable content
Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King – Le Salon Beige
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