Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

by Sr Fidelis  

The Feast of the Transfiguration is normally celebrated on August 6th. We celebrate it on the Sunday closest to the 6th.  It is the “name” feast for our Church, and is celebrated with full solemnity! The Feast has an interesting history. Although it was celebrated in the East from earliest times, it was not officially recognized in the West until the fifteenth century. In 1457 Pope Callixtus III ordered its observance, to mark a victory gained over the Turks a year earlier.
The Gregorian Chants for this feast are both borrowed and new.  Because of its late entry into the Church’s calendar of feasts, many of the pieces chosen were previously composed, yet their texts were valid for this particular event.  Such is the case with the famous hymn by Prudentius (348 -c. 410) Quicumque Christus, which he wrote for the Epiphany.
Listen to this beautiful hymn, while reading the English text below.

Whosoever you are who seek Christ, raise your eyes on high;
there, you will be allowed to see a sign of eternal glory.

We perceive something brilliant;  may it not come to an end;
Sublime, lofty, unending, more ancient than heaven and chaos.
Here is that king of the nations and the king of the Jewish people,
the one promised to our father Abraham and to his offspring forever.
Him, with the same prophets as witnesses who also pointed to him,
the author and Father commands us to hear and believe.
Glory be to you, O Lord , who appeared today,
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for everlasting ages.  Amen.
Detail of Peter at the Transfiguration – Carved Lintel over West Door – Church of the Transfiguration

One thought on “Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

  1. Would it be possible to post the Latin text when you post a longer piece like this hymn?
    Likely not many would want this, so perhaps it could be a link.
    My knowledge of Latin leaves LOTS of room for improvement, but I am better able to follow a hymn like this one when I can see the words actually being sung, and get a better feel for the interaction of text and melody. I still need the English translation, but I connect to a hymn better when I also have the Latin.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *