ROWING UP, I remember hearing people say: “Don’t cross out Christmas!” I also remember Looney Tunes where the packages of Bugs Bunny would often say: do not open till Xmas. But can we really cross out Christmas? For more than a millenium, Christians have used an X to denote Christ. It comes from the Greek letter “Chi”—and even as late as the 19th century, Abbat Pothier used that abbreviation in the Solesmes books.
Below is example that uses X for the word “Christo,” and comes from approximately 1053AD. I’m not sure I’ve seen a more beautiful capital “Y” drop cap:
Here’s the same hymn, written with letters we can more readily recognize:
To see more examples of “X” meaning “Christ,” please click here.
If you want to learn about a Roman Catholic hymnal that uses fabulous English translations of ancient hymns, please explore The Saint Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal.