Palestrina’s Iesu Rex Admirabilis

The feast of Christ the King (in the usus antiquior) was put in place on this last Sunday of October to counteract so-called Reformation Sunday, for the Protestants held that the earthly potentate was head of the ‘church’, and the state in charge in religion. Catholics, of course, hold that the Church transcends all earthly regimes, and Christ has lordship over heaven and earth. (The feast was moved in the post Vatican II revisions to the last, or ’34th’, Sunday of the liturgical year, to emphasize in part its eschatological dimension).

Anon, in honour, here is Palestrina’s Iesu Rex Admirabilis, Jesus, Admirable King, for three voices, first published in 1586, at the height of the Reformation and the Catholic ‘counter-Reformation’, two years before the ill-fated Spanish Armada. It’s one of his simpler pieces in his ars perfecta, but sublime nonetheless, and a fitting tribute to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords: