We Have No King But Jesus

Sunday, November 20, AD 2016


The feast of Christ the King is a very new one, although the image of Christ as King is as old as Christianity.  Pope Pius XI established the feast with his encyclical Quas Primas  in 1925 to remind the World after the horrors of World War I and its aftermath that God was in charge.

This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.

Prior to the American Revolution an English aristocrat related an incident in a letter.  He asked an American servant who his master was, and the man responded unhesitatingly:  My Lord Jesus Christ!  The aristocrat found this hilarious, but the servant was reflecting a very old Christian view.

Christ Pantocrator is one of the more popular images by which Christians pictured, after the edict of Milan, Christ, the Lord of all.  This representation ties in nicely with the traditional American cry of “We have no King but Jesus!” which became popular during the American Revolution.

Our wisest statesman have always remembered that behind the trappings of power of this World that God is ultimately the one who has charge of the fate of nations as well as individuals.  Abraham Lincoln was utterly convinced of this as he indicated in a letter to Eliza P. Gurney on September 4, 1864 as the Civil War teetered in the balance:

The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must  prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive  them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible  war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We  shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile  we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so  working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends  some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal  could make, and no mortal could stay.

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4 Responses to We Have No King But Jesus

  • I confess I spend too much time, on-line chunking on the hysterics and violence against President Trump.
    Hillary or Trump: it makes no difference. Jesus is my President.
    Viva Cristo Rey!
    St., Dismas, pray for us.

  • I had to research the term “Christ Pantocrator” (Χριστός Παντοκράτωρ in Greek or Christus Omnipotens in Latin) mentioned in this blog post.
    “When the Hebrew Bible was translated into the Greek Septuagint, Pantokrator was used both for YHWH Sabaoth ‘Lord of Hosts’ and for El Shaddai ‘God Almighty’. In the New Testament, Pantokrator is used once by St Paul (2 Cor 6:18).”
    “…and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be my sons and daughters,
    says the Lord Almighty…”
    “Aside from that one occurrence, John of Patmos is the only New Testament author to use the word Pantokrator. The author of the Book of Revelation uses the word nine times, and while the references to God and Christ in Revelation are at times interchangeable, Pantokrator appears to be reserved for God the Father except, perhaps, in Revelation 1:8.”
    “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'”
    I like it: Χριστός Παντοκράτωρ or Christus Omnipotens.
    Vivat Christus Rex!
    ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

  • The feast Christ the King reminds us of the contrast between how Jesus lived on earth with how He now lives in heaven. On earth in impoverishment; in heaven in splendor. Which, of course, brings up the obvious point of the majestic way most Popes have lived since the time of Constantine. I think the Church would be more successful if went about it’s affairs more like Christ did. Let’s save the splendor for heaven. The business part of the Church should be handled by lay people.

  • The Feast of Christ the King….celebrated at the end of October according to the Traditional Catholic calendar….as Sunday was the Last Sunday after Pentecost.

    The Bishops of Poland have “recognized” Christ as the King of Poland. See the link:

To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King

Saturday, November 19, AD 2016

Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

Isaiah 40:15

To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King was  written in 1941, seventy-five years ago, by Father Martin B. Hellriegel, a German-American pastor in Saint Louis, as a direct response to the pretensions of the Third Reich and to remind people who actually reigns eternally.  We Americans have traditionally understood that God is in charge:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Abraham Lincoln ringingly set forth what this section of the Declaration means:  “These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows.”

Nothing could be further from the nightmarish ideas that fueled the Third Reich, and Father Martin B. Hellriegel in his magnificent hymn conveys this majestic conception of God and of humanity under God:

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5 Responses to To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King

  • Thanks Donald. Good meditation before tomorrow’s feast day ending this tumultuous year where, thanks be to God, we dodged the bullet due, I am sure , to the many prayers to Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King and his mother.

  • I love being a Catholic.
    Thank you for the music.
    God bless.

  • We attend the early “quiet” Mass at the mission on Sundays. When we occasionally do sing I always check the notes at the bottom of the hymn. Unfortunately there is little except the name or names of the lyricist and the composer. If a folk tune is reused that’s not often mentioned. Thank you explaining the background of Christ The King.

    Mobile, AL used to be quite a Catholic city (don’t know about now) when I was in high school many years ago. On the Feasts of Christ the King and Corpus Christi the student bodies of the Catholic schools, grade and high, black and white, marched with their bands en masse past the bishop’s residence to the Cathedral. Perhaps the bishop addressed the parade; I don’t remember. My family moved the summer before my junior year so I have no idea if the parades continue. My guess is only the bands participate and it’s only in Mardi Gras parades.

  • I didn’t know the history of the song. Thanks for posting this.

King Jesus

Sunday, November 22, AD 2015

At the ending of the liturgical year our thoughts turn to the End Times.  The feast of Christ the King was proclaimed by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in response to the growth both of nationalism and secularism.  Pope Paul VI moved it to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, the better to remind all of mankind that the time will come when Christ will return and reign as King forever.

Christ Pantocrator is one of the more popular images by which Christians pictured, after the edict of Milan, Christ, the Lord of all.  This representation ties in nicely with the traditional American cry of “We have no King but Jesus!” which became popular during the American Revolution.  At the battle of Lexington the phrase “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus!”, was flung back at Major Pitcairn after he had ordered the militia to disperse.    Christ the King and We have no King but Jesus remind Christians that the nations of the world and the manner in which they are ruled, and mis-ruled, while very important to us during our mortal lives, are of little importance in the next.   They also instruct us that the State can never be an ultimate end in itself, can never override the first allegiance of Christians and that the rulers of the Earth will be judged as we all will be.  Although my Irish Catholic ancestors will shudder, and my Protestant Irish and Scot ancestors may smile, there is much truth in the inscription supposedly written on the sarcophagus, destroyed or lost after the Restoration, of that “bold, bad man”, Oliver Cromwell, “Christ, not Man, is King.”

Seventy years ago the ashes of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan attested to the great mistake of making worldly power the excuse for any crime.  How different it seemed in 1941 when both Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan seemed well on their way to global domination. In that year Father Martin B. Hellriegel, a German-American pastor in Saint Louis, wrote the magnificent hymn To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King as a direct response to the pretensions of the Third Reich and to remind people who actually reigns eternally:

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3 Responses to King Jesus

  • Traditional Catholics, of which I consider myself as I attend the Tridentine Mass and I am raising my sons to go to the same Mass, would well remember that the widely held belief among some Trads that the only valid government is one run by a Catholic monarch is silly.
    There is only one King, and He dwells not in this world.

    For us Trads, the solemnity of Christ the King was at the end of October. We are in the Last Sunday after Pentecost (which sounds so much better than…Ordinary Time).

    As of next Saturday evening, we will enter into Advent. Purple vestments will be worn by the priests celebrating Mass. Advent is a time of penitence as well as preparation for Christmas for us Catholics – a mini-Lent. Going against American Shopping Season (acronym A.S.S.) with its bland “seasonal” music and exortations to shop, shop, shop is never easy, but well worth the effort.

  • Very good! Let us pray that our dear Pope gets the message.

The Father of Our Country and the Almighty

Sunday, November 25, AD 2012

Today is the feast day of Christ the King in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar, signaling the ending of the Church year.  On this date my thoughts turn to April 30, 1789 when President George Washington commenced the government of the United States under its new Constitution with the first inaugural address.  Below is the address.  Pay special attention to the second paragraph where Washington acknowledges the role of God in bringing about the American Republic and his final paragraph where he states that America depends upon God’s cotinued blessing: so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.



Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.

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2 Responses to The Father of Our Country and the Almighty