Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Feast of Christ the King 2023

Thine is the power, thine the kingdom, o Lord; Thou art above all nations. * Give peace, o Lord, in our days. ℣. God, creator of all things, fearful and mighty, just and merciful. Give peace in our time, O Lord. (The ninth responsory of the feast of Christ the King in the Benedictine Office.)

From the Great Hours of Anne of Brittany, 1503-8, illuminated by Jean Bourdichon. This image accompanies a suffrage of All Saints, and perfectly expresses Pius XI’s intention in placing the feast of Christ the King on the Sunday before All Saints’ day: Mystical Head before Mystical Body. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Latin 9474)
℟. Tua est potentia, tuum regnum, Dómine: tu es super omnes gentes: * Da pacem, Dómine, in diébus nostris. ℣. Creátor omnium, Deus, terríbilis et fortis, justus et miséricors. Da pacem, Dómine, in diébus nostris.

By the time the feast of Christ the King was instituted in 1925, the hour of Matins was very rarely sung outside of a fairly small number of monasteries, and even then, only on major feasts, and this had been the case for quite a long time. To the degree that it was done in choir at all, it was usually done recto tono. (The common exceptions were Christmas Matins before Midnight Mass and Tenebrae.) As a result, there was little impetus to compose new responsories when new feasts were promulgated. For example, when Pope Clement XIII first granted permission for the feast of Sacred Heart to be celebrated in certain places, the Matins responsories of the Office which he promulgated for it were all borrowed from Tenebrae, Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi. Likewise, this responsory is borrowed for Christ the King from the very ancient corpus of Gregorian chants for the month of October, accompanying the readings from the books of the Maccabees, which is why a recording of it is available at all.

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