Christus Factus Est

 

Christus Factus Est

There are many versions of Christus Factus Est. This one is sung by Harpa Dei—a brother and three sisters.  You can find more of their music here.

On this page you’ll find the Latin and English translation of the words, as well as the history of this chant, and some ideas for how to include it in your own spiritual life.

Latin

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens
usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis.
Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum et dedit illi nomen,
quod est super omne nomen.

English

Christ became obedient for us unto death,
even to the death, death on the cross.
Therefore God exalted Him and gave Him a name
which is above all names

History and Meaning

Christus factus est (Christ became obedient) is taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Phlippians. It is a Gregorian gradual—a chant or hymn used in the mass. In the classical Roman rite, it was sung as the gradual at mass on Maundy Thursday, however since the promulgation of the new rite of mass by Pope Paul VI in 1969 it has been employed instead as the gradual on Palm Sunday. Up until 1970 it was also sung daily at the conclusion of Matins and Lauds (the morning prayers in the Divine Office) on the last days of Holy Week.

It appeared first at Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday, but was not recited in full, ending with …’usque ad mortem’. The following day at Tenebrae of Good Friday it was sung from the beginning until …’mortem autem crucis’ and at Tenebrae of Holy Saturday it was sung in full. Up until the reform of the Holy Week liturgy promulgated by Pius XII in 1955 these Tenebrae services were sung in the late afternoon and evening of the previous day, and were well attended by the laity. Thus Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday was sung during the evening of Spy Wednesday; Tenebrae of Good Friday in the evening Maundy Thursday etc. For this reason Christus factus est (along with the famous Tenebrae responsories) was set by many composers of church music. From 1956–1969, and in the liturgical books of 1962 which are currently in use as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, these services have been ‘restored’ to the early morning of the last three days of Holy Week, with the effect that complex musical settings of this text are rarely heard in their authentic liturgical context.

When to Pray It

Recitation or singing of the Christus Factus Est is not a required element in Catholic devotion. So there are no rules as to when or how to say it.  A person is free to incorporate it it as an optional devotion by itself, or an addition to your prayer life.  Some suggested uses include praying or singing it…

• Before bed or in the morning.

Before starting your prayer time, to prepare your mind and spirit to be in a prayerful state.

Spontaneously any time of day to re-center your soul when the day gets hectic.

• As a meditation tool, slowly reciting the words and focusing on a word or phrase that stands out for you in the moment. If nothing stands out, then just be thoughtful of the phrases you’re saying, as you say them, considering their meaning.

About the Art

“Christ Crucified”

17th century (c. 1487-88) by Museo del Prado

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