Hyperion Records

Vexilla regis
1585; 4vv (6vv in final verse) alternatim; Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae
author of text
Hymn at Vespers on Passion Sunday

'Victoria: Missa Dum complerentur & other sacred music' (CDH55452)
Victoria: Missa Dum complerentur & other sacred music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55452  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Track 10 on CDH55452 [8'33] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Vexilla regis
Vexilla regis is a hymn written by Venantius Fortunatus (c530–c610), a Latin poet and later Bishop of Poitiers, which celebrates the mystery of Christ triumphant on the Cross. In the Liber Usualis (the book codifying the modern Roman Rite up to the major revisions introduced after the Second Vatican Council in 1962–1965) it is prescribed to be sung at Vespers on Passion Sunday and, in the Antiphonale Monasticum (a similar book codifying some of the rather fuller monastic rite), also at Vespers on the Finding of the Holy Cross (3 May) and at Vespers on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September). It also appears in the English Hymnal as the Passiontide hymn ‘The royal banners forward go’. Victoria provided, in the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae at the end of his music for Matins on Holy Saturday, an alternatim setting of the hymn, but both the words and the chant of this setting of the hymn differ from those found in the Liber Usualis and the English Hymnal. In the original print the hymn is described as ‘Vexilla Regis, More Hispano’, indicating that it is based on Spanish plainsong; and the words, with one small difference are those found in the Antiphonale Monasticum. One other singularity of Victoria’s setting is that, although it provides written-out chant for all the other odd-numbered verses, it does not do so for verse five: whether this omission was deliberate or accidental is not clear. In Victoria’s setting the plainsong is used as a cantus firmus in the tenor part at first and later in the soprano, where it soars above the polyphonic texture created by the other voices. The final verse is set for six voices to music of sublime serenity which strongly recalls the style of writing in his last musical utterance, the six-part Requiem of 1605. It is perhaps significant that the words of the last verse of the hymn (‘Te summa Deus Trinitas, Collaudat omnis spiritus: Quos per crucis mysterium, Salvas rege per saecula. Amen’) are printed after the word ‘Finis’ at the end of the print of the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae.

from notes by Jon Dixon © 1996

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDH55452 track 10
Recording date
6 March 1996
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Victoria: Missa Dum complerentur & other sacred music (CDA66886)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: October 1996
    Deletion date: February 2011
    Superseded by CDH55452
  2. Victoria: Missa Dum complerentur & other sacred music (CDH55452)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: September 2011
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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