ATHER Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923) called Vexilla Regis Prodeunt “perhaps the greatest of all hymns.” I must confess that I’m slightly taken aback by his praise, because—in a particular sense—this hymn is a bit of a hodgepodge. That is to say, the original version was an altered version of Bishop Fortunatus. (Father John Connelly provides the missing verses in his volume on the Breviary hymns.) Then, Pope Urban VIII made the situation even more confused, as you can see if you scroll down to the bottom of this page and read the excerpt from the Brébeuf hymnal, which contains annotations. Of course, it’s still a superb hymn, and the Brébeuf hymnal contains multiple musical settings and translations. If you have not read my February 6th article on this tune (“ALTONA”) I really hope you will:
* Article • “What Makes A Good Hymn?”
—Published 6 February by Jeff Ostrowski.
I am proud of that article, and it includes many examples. I don’t want to repeat all that stuff here, because that would be confusing. Today (27 March 2020) there has been a new addition to the collection of “English Hymns with rehearsal videos for each individual voice”—which is posted towards the middle of the Brébeuf website:
* Access free rehearsal videos for each individual voice by clicking on #546.
Here are two pages from the Brébeuf hymnal which give a literal English translation:
The Brébeuf hymnal contains abundant settings of Vexilla Regis Prodeunt. Some people have assaulted the book for this reason—but we consider it to be a very important hymn for the Catholic Church.