Dom Jacques-Marie Guilmard of Solesmes graciously offered to Neumz his reflections on the Christmas hymn “Christe Redemptor omnium” during this uncertain time:

Dom Jacques-Marie Guilmard

The Christmas hymn “Christe Redemptor omnium” is a masterpiece that illuminates the liturgy of the Christmas Season: it is sung at Vespers every day.

Each stanza is made up of 4 verses of 8 syllables. The music is the same for verses 1 and 4. The melody rises gradually from the low register of the 1st mode up to the dominant and even beyond in a luminous flourish. Then it descends to return little by little to its starting point. This melody, very finely crafted, emphasizes the accents of the dactyls in ascent as well as in descent. The lyricism of this piece makes it a jewel of the Latin liturgical chant repertoire.

But there is more. The text (from the 6th century) is of wonderful poetry, firmness, and depth.

It is above all a prayer addressed to the Savior of mankind. – You, who come from the Father, You are its splendor. You alone were born before creation. You are our hope; listen to the prayers of your servants. – Then comes the mention of the Immaculate. – You have made yourself flesh, You the author of salvation, of the Virgin. This Day testifies that You are the only savior of the world, You who came from the Father. Let heaven and earth and the sea and what they contain exult and praise the One who brought you into our midst! We too, redeemed by your Blood, sing a new hymn. Glory to you Jesus! – This is the doxology that places the Virgin at the heart of the Trinity forever and ever.

The Lord was born before Creation, so what fear would we have in the face of the threats that hang over us from all sides? Certainly, in the midst of our world so disrupted and devoid of all stability, we must keep open the eyes of our faith, our charity, and our hope that you, Christ, are the “Redeemer of all things”.

Dom Jacques-Marie Guilmard, monk of St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes

Listen to the hymn in Neumz: Christe Redemptor omnium