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English translation of
Vexilla Regis Prodeunt
Abroad the Regal Banners fly

1. Abroad the Regal Banners fly,
Now shines the Cross's mystery;
Upon it Life did death endure,
And yet by death did life procure.

2. Who, wounded with a direful spear,
Did, purposely to wash us clear
From stain of sin, pour out a flood
Of precious Water mixed with Blood.

3. That which the Prophet-King of old
Hath in mysterious verse foretold,
Is now accomplished, whilst we see
God ruling nations from a Tree.

4. O lovely and reflugent Tree,
Adorned with purpled majesty;
Culled from a worthy stock, to bear
Those Limbs which sanctified were.

5. Blest Tree, whose happy branches bore
The wealth that did the world restore;
The beam that did that Body weigh
Which raised up hell's expected prey.

6. Hail, Cross, of hopes the most sublime!
Now in this mournful Passion time,
Improve religious souls in grace,
The sins of criminals efface.

7. Blest Trinity, salvation's spring,
May every soul Thy praises sing;
To those Thou grantest conquest by
The holy Cross, rewards apply. Amen.

Click here for the Latin lyrics.

This is a very moving hymn, expressing love for Jesus Christ and His holy Cross, by which we were all redeemed. The cross, long a disgraceful punishment, is a badge of honor for Our Lord who redeemed us, and is now the standard or flag for His Kingdom. It is now considered an honor, like the banners of a conquering king.

More sublime or moving lyrics can scarce be imagined -- you can tell a LOT of thought, meditation, and inspiration went into this hymn. It is from an age vastly different from our own. It dates back to a time when Christian meant "following Christ and His Church completely" and casting to the wind all cares about what other men think. When this hymn was written, the persecutions had scarce ended, and the Faith was a treasure to be jealously guarded and tended.

What is the oldest song you can think of? Vexilla Regis Prodeunt is attributed to Venatius Fortunatus (530-609), as are many other ancient hymns. This hymn certainly goes back countless centuries -- how amazing that we can listen to something that predated Christopher Columbus by several centuries! What songs can we suggest as being old? The Star-Spangled Banner? (1800's) Several 17th century protestant hymns? Those are modern pop music compared to what the Catholic Church has in her arsenal! She has hymns that date back to the Roman Empire.

Let us all pray that more men will honor and worship Jesus Christ who redeemed us by suffering the ignominious death of the cross, Whose wounds are now most glorious in the splendor of Heaven.

This is found on the following CD(s) in Latin: Chant Compendium 1.

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