Scripture Verse

In the name of our God we will set up our banners. Psalm 20:5


John Mason Neale


Words: Ve­nan­ti­us For­tu­na­tus, 569 (Vex­il­la Re­gis pro­deunt). Trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by John M. Neale, Med­i­æ­val Hymns and Se­quenc­es, 1851.

Music: Ham­burg Lo­well Ma­son, 1824. First pub­lished in The Bos­ton Han­del and Hay­dn So­ci­e­ty Col­lec­tion of Church Mu­sic, third ed­i­tion, 1825 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

Lowell Mason


Legend says that on No­vem­ber 19, 568, St. Ra­de­gund pre­sent­ed to the town of Poi­ti­ers a frag­ment be­lieved to be the true Cross. For­tu­na­tus was the one cho­sen to receive the re­lic on its ar­ri­val at Poi­ti­ers.

When the bear­ers of the ho­ly frag­ment were two miles distant from the town, For­tu­na­tus, with a great ga­ther­ing of be­liev­ers and en­thu­si­asts, some car­ry­ing ban­ners, cross­es and oth­er sac­red em­blems, went forth to meet them. As the marched, they sang this hymn, which For­tu­na­tus had writ­ten.


The royal banners forward go,
The cross shines forth in mystic glow;
Where He in flesh, our flesh who made,
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid.

Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood,
Where mingled water flowed, and blood.

Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old,
Amidst the nations, God, saith he,
Hath reigned and triumphed from the tree.

O tree of beauty, tree of light!
O tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy limbs should find their rest.

Blest tree, whose chosen branches bore
The wealth that did the world restore,
The price of humankind to pay,
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.

Upon its arms, like balance true,
He weighed the price for sinners due,
The price which none but He could pay,
And spoiled the spoiler of his prey.

O cross, our one reliance, hail!
Still may thy power with us avail
To give new virtue to the saint,
And pardon to the penitent.

To Thee, eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done:
As by the cross Thou dost restore,
So rule and guide us evermore.