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A Hymn to St. Pius V, “Saint of the Mass”

st-pius-vby Rev. Anthony Cekada

AS A CHURCH musician and priest who offered the traditional Latin Mass, I always thought it a pity that the pope-saint who promulgated the Missal in 1570 did not seem to have a hymn honoring him. So more than twenty-five years ago, when I was a priest at St. Pius V Chapel, Oyster Bay Cove, New York, I decided to write one.

The first question was the melody. I happened upon a lovely Irish tune (Is there any other kind?), occasionally used with the text “Hail Glorious Saint Patrick, and arranged by the eminent Richard Runciman Terry. ” Since my poetic gifts are rather limited, I also noticed that the St. Patrick text and its rhyme scheme could be nicely adapted to the praise the virtues of the “Saint of our Mass,” as well as to explore the theme of exile and persecution — the fate not only of the Irish, but also of the Mass of St. Pius V and those Catholics who remained faithful to it. (At that point, we had just moved our Mass to a church after fifteen years in a beer hall.)

Here is the hymn text, a copy of the sheet music and a recording of our choir singing it after Mass on May 4, the day before the saint’s feast. Happy St. Pius V Day!

(1) Hail, glorious Saint Pius, great Vicar of Christ,
O keep us e’er faithful to the true Sacrifice,
Its splendor and beauty, the light of the earth,
Its law of believing, the right of our birth.
(2) Hail, glorious Saint Pius, thy voice was once strong
Against all false worship and a heretic throng;
Though great is the courage thy words yet impart,
Still greater thy power, in heav’n where thou art.
(3) In the war for the Mass, in the fight for the faith,
Dear Saint, may thy children resist unto death;
May their strength be in Mary, her Ros’ry their prayer,
Her Son’s royal banner the standard they bear.
(4) Though barren and empty the altars once raised
To honor Christ’s presence and resound with His praise;
Though exiled the worship thou once didst restore,
Dear saint, keep us faithful till time be no more.
 (5) And now thou art near to Christ’s altar above,
On our scattered altars look down in thy love;
And our hearts shall yet burn, wheresoe’er we may roam,
For the Mass and Saint Pius, and our heavenly home.
                                                         — Rev. Anthony Cekada

St Pius Hymn Music











Addendum: After this was posted, a correspondent very kindly send me a link to a Latin hymn to St. Pius V to which Pius VII attached a plenary indulgence. See here.