Choir Resources for 5th Sunday in Lent

Vexilla Regis (translated literally as Regal Banner) – The office hymn of Passiontide and the hymn in honour of the Holy Cross is considered as one of the greatest hymns of the liturgy written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) –  PDF from the Parish Book of Chant.

Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.
The banners of the king issue forth,
the mystery of the cross does gleam,
where the creator of flesh, in the flesh,
by the cross-bar [of the crucifying cross] is hung.

It is important to remember the context in which this hymn was written to give some idea of the rhythm and tempo.

Fortunatus wrote it in honor of the arrival of a large relic of the True Cross which had been sent to Queen Radegunda by the Emperor Justin II and his Empress Sophia. Queen Radegunda had retired to a convent she had built near Poitiers and was seeking out relics for the church there. To help celebrate the arrival of the relic, the Queen asked Fortunatus to write a hymn for the procession of the relic to the church.

This is a joyful hymn, a celebration of the wood a ligno, the beautiful and resplendent tree Arbor decora et fulgida that adorned with the purpled majesty of Christ,  purpura symbolising the Most Precious Blood, that chose to bear on thy worthy trunk, limbs so holy, electa digno stipite Tam sancta membra tangere. Tangere – to touch, to come into contact with.

I like this recording recorded at Mass in Edinburgh with quite a defiant organ accompaniment. Many of the recordings on You tube have tortuously extended dotted punctums at the end of each line, this doesn’t.

Introit  – from the Simple English Propers

Offertory – Judge my Cause O Lord – Aristotle Esguerra

Score and Midi files HERE

Crux Fidelis – John of Portugal 

This polyphonic setting will alternate with the full choir singing the chant verses of the Crux Fidelis. PDF of chant score HERE.

Hide not Thou Face – Farrant 

Recessional Hymn – O Sacred Head Sore Wounded : Bach from St Matthew’s Passion

Horrible MIDI file HERE

There are lots of good recordings on You tube but this was my favourite, the virtual organ accompaniment. It gives me an idea…


3 thoughts on “Choir Resources for 5th Sunday in Lent

  1. Leutgeb says:

    You have inspired me to do Vexilla Regis on Sunday. We practised it last Sunday with a view to Good Fri, but having the chance to do things more than once is always a good thing.

  2. Clare says:

    I like to sing it on both Sundays in Passiontide, it is just so, so beautiful, especially as we may not sing it on Good Friday. I am going to try something new this Sunday. Am going to get the choir to sing it five minutes before Mass as our Pre-Mass prayer and then continue it until the Procession reaches the foot of the altar when we begin the Introit.

  3. Thomas Windsor says:

    I see you have the shorter modern form. According to Connelly this Hymn originally had 8 verses, with 2 more added very early on (verse 6 and the doxology)

    I do have a typset copy of the original longer version…

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